Seafood consumption, such as mussels and prawns, is on the rise worldwide, leading to overfishing, depleting stocks, and environmental catastrophes. Luckily, these two Zurich researchers have jumped in to help by creating realistic seafood alternatives made from microalgae.

Fish and seafood consumption has risen over 60 percent over the past quarter of a century, reaching 75,000 metric tons per year, Phys Org reported. 97 percent of that is imported, which has fueled overfishing and led to the destruction of underwater ecosystems.

Zurich researchers Severin Eder and Lukas Böcker decided to use microalgae to make their superfood seafood alternative. Microalgae is rich in protein, micronutrients, and unsaturated fats. This superfood even has virtually all of the amino acids, making it a complete protein and a great source of it for vegetarians and vegans.

Eder and Böcker are developing a platform for producing seafood made from microalgae and a mixture of other vegetable protein sources like soy and peas. Their seafood, like their prawns, are made to replicate seafood in taste, texture, and nutritional value, but without the heavy metals and microplastics in normal seafood.

“We’re focusing on seafood because better solutions have already been developed for plant-based fish and development there is more advanced,” Eder explains.

Their first product will be microalgae-based prawns. Their home of Switzerland consumes 7,000 metric tons of prawns a year. They plan to add other products like scallops and crab meat to their product list later down the line.

The pair plans to have the right flavor, texture, and nutritional character by the end of the year and then launch into the market soon after. There are many other companies making seafood and plant-based alternatives from microalgae now.

Source: Heliae Global/Youtube

“In two to three years, I’m pretty certain there’s going to be a lot more plant-based fish and seafood around than there is today,” Böcker predicts.

As of July 2017, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists 455 critically endangered fish species, including 87 which are tagged as possibly extinct. The fewer fish in the ocean, the less food, the larger marine animals have to survive on, leading to an imbalance in marine food webs.

The industry wants us to believe that to solve overfishing, we need to fish more. However, this is incredibly unsustainable. Apex predators are disappearing, bottom trawling is tearing the ocean apart, and fishing vessels wage war on the oceans. GMO fish are not the answer to overfishing. If we want to save marine wildlife, dietary choices will have the most impact.

According to Counting Animals, “An individual who chooses to take on a vegetarian diet can save over 225 fish and 151 shellfish a year. If just half of the U.S. population (about 150,000,000 individuals) eliminated seafood from their diets, that would mean about 33,750,000,000 fish would remain in the ocean every year.”

Everything nutritious that people believe they are getting from fish can get from other sources. Check out How to Ditch Fish Oil for Plant-Based Sources and Why Flaxseed Oil is Healthier than Fish Oil. Fish often have been exposed to many toxic chemicals like mercury which the consumer then eats when they eat the fish. Fish are also sentient creatures and can feel pain. There is no reason that we need to continue to eat these animals.

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