Struggling Fisheries Could Make a Comeback using... Beer!

Fish Drinking Beer Photo

Photo via: Aturkus

Not too far from Denver, Colorado comes an alliance between two businesses nobody would have ever thought could work so wonderfully together. We are talking about a beer brewery and a fishery.

Currently around the world, fisheries have hit a brick wall when it comes to commercial aquaculture. These commercial industries often rely on other fish to feed their current stock. So what's a fishery to do when there are not enough low quality fish in the ocean to go around?

They crack open a "cold one" and then offer one to the fish!Fish Like Beer Too
Well, they don't exactly offer the finished beer product to the fish, but rather the waste product. A company by the name of Oberon FMR (Fish Meal replacement), started by two Colorado School of Mines students, just may one day become the saving grace of fisheries all over the world.

"It was just back-of-an-envelope brainstorming," said Andy Logan, one of the co-founders of Oberon. "What we've done is come up with a way to make a high protein fish meal using sludge that comes from breweries."

One Colorado Brewery Puts the Idea to the Test
Breweries have waste just like any other industry. It basically looks like a brown sludge, which is a biproduct that comes from the hops and barley. Such facilities can see a much as 40,000 to 50,000 pounds of this stuff every day.

One way to treat this goop is to use large settling ponds in order to help process and dispose of it. But what if it could be used for a greater cause? Such as say, I don't know... food for fish. What Logan and fellow co-founder, Seth Terry, plan to do along with some help from the popular Fort Collins Brewery, New Belgium, is convert this sludge to bacteria protein (a.k.a fish food).

"We can convert 30,000 to 35,000 pounds of bacterial protein everyday," says Logan. "Regular fish meal has 40 percent protein—ours has 65 percent protein." Best of all, the entire set-up to accomplish this task is incredibly low cost and low maintenance for the brewery.

Oberon Will Be Entering its Testing Phase this Next Year
While plans are already in the works to build a much larger facility out east to offer the idea on a much larger scale, the cold hard fact is that this is a relatively new approach that will need testing.

"We can have a large scale operation up and running in six months," says Logan. "We are in the testing phase in Hawaii and Peru right now, and the University of Idaho is going to be testing our fish food next year."

Leave it to a bunch of brainy graduate students to find a new use for beer. All those nights drinking beer when I told my parents I was studying, well, they weren't all that far from the truth. Only difference is... I made a beer tower; Logan and Terry may have just "greened" an entire global network of fisheries... Sorry Mom!

I don't know about those fish... but I could sure use a cold one about now.

Source: Fish Food From Beer
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