UW-Madison researchers are developing a product to help stressed-out fish.


That could have real impact on aquaculture, or fish farming, because stressed fish are bad for business. So says Jake Olson, an assistant scientist in the school’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who spoke yesterday at WARF Innovation Day in Madison.


“Our vision is to improve fish health through the diet,” said Olson, who co-founded a research startup called Mareco with a product for salmon and rainbow trout. He started this company at a time when global protein demand is increasing while the world’s population steadily rises.

He says fish provide “very high quality protein,” while being relatively efficient to produce.

“Aquaculture right now provides about 50 percent of the fish we eat, and that number is increasing,” he said.

The largest constraint on that growth, he says, is fish stress. According to Olson, it’s well-known in the industry that when fish become stressed, their immune systems crash and disease outbreaks can occur. That can lead to mortality, and fish farmers take the loss for it.

Norway is the world’s largest producer of salmon, and Olson says the country’s fish producers lose more than $1.7 billion each year due to fish stress.

Mareco’s first product is called Cosajaba oil, and has been in development for about five years at UW-Madison’s animal science department. The name is an anagram of the inventors’ initials. Read the full story here.