Hello Nils, thanks for taking the time for our Interview. I am a biologist and also head the JBL research expeditions. We have some questions for you about JBL PlanktonPur:
Would you like to tell us something about yourself?
Hello Heiko. My name is Nils and I am the CEO of a Norwegian company dealing with the subject of plankton. My research background is from the University of Science and Technology in Norway, where I did my PhD in marine biology and where I worked later as a scientist. My field of expertise is marine planktonic food webs.
How are you involved with JBL PlanktonPur?
I worked together with the research and development team at JBL to develop a premium quality zooplankton feed for ornamental species in a user-friendly package for aquarium owners. It took several years to develop the optimal formula and a type of packaging which would retain the nutritional quality of zooplankton.
What is special about this new JBL plankton food?
It is a well known fact that marine zooplankton, and especially copepods, contain the nutritional profile to meet the basic nutritional requirements of aquatic organisms. Zooplankton originating in high latitudes contain a significantly higher percentage of essential fatty acids bound in phospholipids, and this is beneficial for most aquatic organisms. We have developed ways of processing raw zooplankton material, so that in the nutritional composition and the valuable fatty acids remain intact. It hardly deviates in nutritional value from fresh zooplankton taken directly from the sea.
What gave you the idea of using this plankton diet for ornamental fish care?
Our basic idea was to use the plankton diet for juvenile marine fish in aquaculture. We noticed that no other feed had a comparably high nutritional quality as ours as regards the development, survival and general health of the fish larvae. In recent years aquarium owners have tested our JBL PlanktonPur diet on a variety of ornamental species, both freshwater and marine species with great success. They have reported better pigmentation and better general health in their ornamentals. Additionally, the feed is more sterile and cleaner than the various types of frozen feed on offer in aquarium shops. It does not contain such undesirable elements as dissolved nutrients (no or negligible phosphates or nitrates) or pathogenic micro-organisms, which can negatively influence the water quality in the aquarium.
Can the plankton be harvested all year round or is it a seasonal product??
Zooplankton is harvested at various times of year. Large copepods are typically harvested in spring and autumn, whereas small zooplankton are harvested from June until October. During the winter months the primary production in the sea is at its lowest, and with it the occurrence of zooplankton. Therefore we harvest zooplankton in the period from April until October, and not in the winter.
Should we be concerned about overfishing in the sea?
I did my PhD on this subject, and I am confident that our fishing quota has no effect on the sustainability of zooplankton. Zooplankton, and especially marine copepods, are thought to be the world’s largest bio-resource of multicellular animals. Globally, copepods even outnumber insects. The Institute of Marine Research in Norway has estimated the production of zooplankton in Norwegian waters as ranging from 500 to 1000 million tons per year. When you consider that the world’s fisheries’ landings, including aquaculture, are 140 million tons per year, it is easy to understand that the zooplankton stock constitutes a vast bio-resource. Zooplankton such as copepods has typically generation times of approximately one month in cold water areas, and the stock quickly recovers from heavy fishing or harvesting. Zooplankton has the potential to meet the demand for protein and fat for the world’s growing population, which is expected to increase from 7 to 9 billion people in the next 20-30 years. We need to continue in our approach to manage the zooplankton stock carefully, and promote a research-based management to maintain a healthy ecosystem.
What exactly happens after you catch the plankton using your dedicated plankton nets?
We employ several fishing techniques, but our main innovation is the use of passive plankton traps. This is a very environmentally-friendly method of catching the plankton, and involves a minimal use of fossil fuel with a negligible CO2 emission.
How is it possible increase the shelf life of the plankton without using preserving agents?
When we process the plankton, the last step is flash sterilizing at very high temperature, which kills all bacterial spores. As the plankton is packed in laminated aluminium foil with a barrier for both micro-organisms and oxygen, there is no need to use preserving agents.