Microalgae have been the subject of decades of research first as an alternative to fuels, more recently as a source of nutrients for food. This research has shown that certain species of algae are easier to cultivate in closed systems, called photobioreactors. The German team wanted to clarify the environmental impacts of algae produced for human consumption.
Compare the carbon footprint of nutrients from microalgae and fish
The team compared carbon footprints and analyzed how the two food sources increase acidification and eutrophication (accumulation of nutrients) in water bodies. The study shows that the cultivation of microalgae has an environmental impact similar to the production of fish. However, at equivalent omega-3 levels, fish farming has a much higher environmental impact.
- Microalgae will not completely replace fish as a food source.
- But used as a basic food, they would constitute an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, respectful of the environment.
Seaweed is a key resource in the global supply of omega-3 fatty acids, the researchers conclude.