In this recently published article, Fjeld et al. performed a litterature review around the topic of mesopelagic resources. The authors put forward how there is little room for increased yields in current commercial fisheries since most of them are either overfished or fished at maximum capacity – and that unexploited marine resources can contribute to renewable, nutritional food for the growing world population.

The Mueller’s pearlside (Maurolicus muelleri), a small mesopelagic fish abundant in Norwegian fjords and the North East Atlantic ocean. Perhaps this small fish will play a big role as a source of nutrition in the future? (Photo: Kristian Fjeld, SINTEF Ocean)

The mesopelagic resource – especially mesopelagic fish, is viewed as a new and untapped marine resource with a large estimated biomass and great potential. Usage areas include animal feed, nutraceuticals, and food for direct human consumption. However, a similar narrative was presented for the zooplankton redfeed (Calanus finmarchicus), with a huge estimated biomass and usage in both animal feed and as human food, in the early 2000’s. As such, in resemblance to mesopelagics today, redfeed gained a lot of popularity, and multiple initiatives and research projects were started.

Since then, redfeed as a marine resource has not been able to live up to the initial hopes and dreams of the industry, as a supplementary resource with high economic benefits. Nowadays the zooplankton is mainly harvested in Norway for its oil as an Omega-3 health supplement. The authors thus compared the narratives around mesopelagics as a new resource to the similar narratives of redfeed, in order to determine if mesopelagics could potentially have higher potential as a new “gold rush”, or if it simply is a “castle in the sky”.

Access the full article here (pdf) or read it online (10.1016/j.marpol.2022.105359)