Future of Fish Feed (F3) is a collaborative effort between NGOs, researchers, and private partnerships to accelerate the commercialization of innovative, substitute aquaculture feed ingredients to replace wild-caught marine ingredients since their populations are declining.




We have created a Forage Fish Savings Estimator to assist innovative ingredient companies, that can provide nutritionally equivalent replacements for fishmeal and fish oil, in calculating the number of forage fish saved. Based on our calculations, the first three F3 contests have saved over 2.5 BILLION forage fish.

Forage Fish Savings Calculations:
First Challenge, Second Challenge, Third Challenge

Million Forage Fish Saved

“Fishmeal alternatives continue to be developed, like algae, bacteria from methane production or microbial proteins from carbon dioxide sequestration. We are trying to turn plant-based ingredients into animal-based ingredients… The trick is to make plant meal behave like fishmeal, not to turn carnivores into herbivores.

Fish do not require fishmeal. They require the nutrients that fishmeal happens to contain. That is why fishmeal has been used so much in aquaculture. If you take the fishmeal out, you must supplement with other ingredients to get the necessary nutrients, hence the need to develop other protein sources. If diets are formulated correctly and contain all essential nutrients, growth rate and feed efficiency will be good.”

Dr. Rick Barrows

F3 Chief Scientific Officer




In 2015 the first F3 Challenge, the F3 Fish-Free Feed Challenge, launched to create fish-free feeds for aquaculture, also called F3.


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The challenge was for an aquafeed company to produce and sell the most marine animal-free aquaculture feed using innovative formulations by the challenge end date. Companies from Australia, Austria, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, South Africa, Thailand, and the U.S. competed.

One of China’s largest aquaculture and feed producers, Guangdong Evergreen Feed Industry Company, was awarded the $200,100 prize for selling over 85,000 metric tons of fish-free feed for tilapia. Representatives from Evergreen accepted their prize in October 2017 at a ceremony held during the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s GOAL Conference in Dublin. Check out their acceptance speech here.

To facilitate networking between the contestants of the F3 Fish-Free Feed Challenge and large feed companies, we held the first F3 Meeting in the San Francisco Bay Area in January 2017. Discussions at this meeting prompted the development of our Feed Innovation Network, which encourages sustainable innovations in fish-free aquaculture feed ingredients by sharing experimental protocols, and directing ingredient companies to test facilities that can implement these protocols.

This contest was a game-changer in the fish feed industry by helping to promote the adoption of fish-free feed to improve the overall sustainability of the aquaculture industry. The challenge drew contestants from all over the world who collectively sold over 100,000 metric tons of fish-free feed.

Our assumptions for this calculation are here, with a breakdown of the calculations here.



The second F3 Challenge, the F3 Fish Oil Challenge, was designed to encourage the development and commercialization of fish oil replacements that contain essential fatty acids in ratios that mimic the average fatty acid profile found in forage fish.


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The prize was to be awarded to the company or team who sold the greatest amount of DHA + EPA + ARA fish oil substitute as calculated from sales of qualified F3 oil by the Challenge end date. Companies from China, the Netherlands, and a UK/U.S. team competed.

In October 2019, Netherlands-based joint venture Veramaris won the F3 Fish Oil Challenge and the $200,000 USD grand prize for selling the most “fish-free” oil for use in aquaculture feed. The winner was announced during a special award ceremony at the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s GOAL Conference in Chennai, India.

Contestants of the F3 Fish Oil Challenge sold a combined total of roughly 850,000 kilograms of “fish-free” oil during the contest period, equivalent to saving over 2 billion forage fish from use in aquaculture feed—the largest amount of fish ever conserved through a contest.

In February 2019, the second F3 Meeting brought together feed companies and contestants of the F3 Fish Oil Challenge. Check out highlights from the 2019 F3 Meeting here.

Our assumptions for this estimate are here, with a breakdown of the calculations here.



Our third challenge, the F3 Challenge – Carnivore Edition, focused on advancing substitute feeds for the largest consumers of fishmeal and fish oil.


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This contest awarded $100,000 USD prizes awarded in each of three categories—salmonid, shrimp, and other carnivorous species—to the contestants that produced and sold the most feed made without using wild-caught fish or any marine-animal ingredient. In total, six global competitors entered the race.

In October 2022, the category winners and one honorable mention were acknowledged during a special award ceremony at the Global Seafood Alliance’s GOAL Conference in Seattle, Washington.

  • U.S.-based Star Milling Co. won for its non-GMO plant-based feed that contains omega-3 DHA-rich algae and heart-healthy flax oil for rainbow trout.
  • The Ecuadorian company Empagran won for its vegetarian recipe using Veramaris’ algal oil rich in EPA & DHA omegas for Pacific white shrimp.
  • China-based Jiangsu Fuhai Biotech uses its unique Fatide® product with dehulled full fat soybean fermented by microbes and enzymes for its largemouth bass feed.
  • Japan-based Dainichi Corporation received an Honorable Mention Award, a US$25,000 prize for their breakthrough feed for red sea bream.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we hosted online webinars in lieu of the in-person F3 Meeting. Our Challenge participants had the opportunity to showcase their companies and products to an audience of over 11,000 people.

Our calculations with assumptions are here.




The Feed Innovation Network, supports the innovation and widespread adoption of substitute fish-free feed ingredients by providing information on experimental protocols, testing facilities, and promising new ingredients.

F3FIN.org hosts resources for ingredient suppliers, aquafeed companies, fish farmers, researchers, investors, and policymakers:
•    F3 Suppliers – F3 ingredient and feed company profiles
•    Open formulas for F3 feeds
•    Evaluation protocols and testing facilities
•    Forage Fish Savings Estimator

Learn more about F3FIN.org and join the network here.

Supporting Organizations

Thanks to Anonymous Donors as well!

Past Sponsors

F3 Team

Leadership and Judges


Dr. Kevin FitzsimmonsUniversity of ArizonaFormer President World Aquaculture Society, Aquaculture and Integrated Farming Systems, Aquaculture Extension Specialist, Tilapia Expert, Fullbright Fellow
Dr. Ling CaoCollege of Ocean and Earth Sciences, Xiamen University Professor and Deputy Director of the State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science
Dr. Michael TlustyUniversity of Massachusetts BostonSeafood Sustainability, Research Faculty in Aquaculture, Sustainable Seafood Policy and Management

Scientific Advisory Committee


Dr. Rick BarrowsAquatic Feed Technologies, USDA/ARS ret.Nutritionist, Feed and Fish physiology, F3 Chief Scientific Adviser Background, Publications
Dr. Delbert M. Gatlin IIITexas A&M UniversityRegents Professor, Texas A&M AgriLife Research Senior Faculty Fellow
Dr. T. Gibson GaylordUS Fish and Wildlife Service, Bozeman Fish Technology CenterNutritionist
Dr. Ewen McLeanAqua CognoscentiConsultant
Kelly CampbellAnthropocene InstituteF3 Program Manager

Industry and Technical Advisory Panel


Dan ChenGuangdong Evergreen Feed Industry Co., Ltd.President
Yuchi ChenGuangdong Evergreen Feed Industry Co., Ltd.Vice President
Dr. Hillary EgnaOregon State UniversityAquaculture and International Development
Dr. Roz NaylorStanford UniversityFood Security and the Environment, Economist
Karim KurmalyVeramarisCEO
Chris OakesNovoNutrientsVice President Market and Product Development
Dr. Wendy SealeyU.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceResearch Physiologist
Dr. Loc TranNong Lam University, Shrimp Vet LaboratoryDisease Expert, Vietnam

Coordination & Administration


Dr. Barbara PageAnthropocene Institute
Kelly CampbellAnthropocene Institute
Alex DriedgerAnthropocene Institute
Annie ReisewitzMar CommunicationsF3 Media Liaison