PhD Defence: Economic Analysis on Key Challenges for Sustainable Aquaculture Development: Live Feeds and Externalities

PhD defence
Tenaw G. Abate


Aquaculture (farming of aquatic organisms) has been the fastest-growing animal food-producing sector in the world during the last three decades. At present, more than half of the world’s human fish consumption comes from aquaculture. Despite the positive trend, the aquaculture industry faces challenges that could obstruct its sustainable development, such as a lack of suitable feed, which includes fishmeal, fish oil and live feed, and negative environmental externalities. If the aquaculture industry is to reach its full potential, it must be both environmentally and economically sustainable. To this end, key challenges should be thoroughly examined to identify sustainable and efficient solutions. Thus, the thesis focuses on two important bottlenecks in the growth of the aquaculture sector—namely, lack of nutritionally suitable live feed items for marine finfish production and negative environmental externalities.

A sustainable supply of high-quality live feeds at reasonable prices is absolutely essential for aquaculture hatcheries because many commercially produced high-value marine fish larval species, such as flounder, grouper, halibut, tuna and turbot, require live feed for their early developmental stage. The key challenge in this regard is that the conventional used live feed items, Artemia and rotifers, are nutritionally deficient.

Thus, the first main purpose of the thesis is carrying out an economic analysis of the feasibility of commercial production and the use of an alternative live feed item, copepods, which have a superior biochemical composition to the conventional live feed items. Using a unique data set from Denmark, the thesis shows that copepods are not only a biologically superior live feed item as documented in the literature but also an economically viable alternative that has the potential to avert a looming live feed trap for marine finfish aquaculture. Second, negative environmental externalities do exists in aquaculture production and if they are not included in the private producers’ production decision-making process, they could lead to economic inefficiency and welfare loss. Thus, public authorities often devise and implement various regulatory instruments.
The second main purpose of the thesis is, therefore, to investigate whether how negative environmental externalities are regulated affects aquaculture growth and social welfare. It is shown that how negative externalities are regulated significantly affects aquaculture growth and could explain the growth disparities among producing countries, particularly between emerging economies and developed countries.


Max Nielsen, Associate Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Rasmus Nielsen, Academic Officer, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Assesment Committee

Jesper Levring Andersen, Associate Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Eva Roth, Associate Professor, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

Atle Guttormsen, Professor, Department of Economics and Resource Management, University of Life Science, Norway

If you are interested in a copy of the thesis, you can contact the PhD student or one of the supervisors.