How Maggots Can Save Our Oceans

walnut maggotApproximately half of the fish we get out the ocean doesn’t end up on our plates, but gets used as a protein food source for livestock – particularly as chicken feed. That’s a very taxing statistic on our oceans.

The dwindling supply of fish has been a concern for years. However, a new type of protein feed recently developed in South Africa could not only lessen the strain on our oceans, but also create a new industry.

And what’s this innovation based on? Maggots.


Magmeal is an alternative protein food source for livestock that’s not only renewable, but far cheaper to produce than fishmeal. And another great perk – it entails recycling waste matter. That’s a score for both the environment, and industry.

Magmeal was developed by AgriProtein Technologies, a South African company that’s been working on coming up with a new protein feed for farmers.

They’ve come up with a way to collect eggs from flies on a large, industrial scale. The eggs are hatched overnight in an incubator and the maggots placed on a food source. (This would be whatever maggots would be happy to eat, and so you can imagine this to be where the recycling element comes in.)

After only three days the maggots weigh 280 times more than before. They are then dried out, ground up, and used as meal. It’s as simple as that.

A major new industry player

The whole process takes less than two weeks, and can be done on a large or small scale. And what’s more, it’s considerably inexpensive – one female fly can lay a thousand eggs in just one week. There would then be no need for farmers to take out loans to invest in a new feeding system, making for a win-win situation.

Currently, the protein animal feed company is a US$70 billion a year industry. With fish meal becoming increasingly expensive to produce, magmeal can soon become a very marketable alternative solution. And future generations just might be able to have fish in their oceans as well.

Despite the optimism being generated by the product, and the seeming lack of disadvantages, AgriProtein are being cautious and taking their time to industrialise and commercialise the process of mass fly laying. That’s because they want to be careful that they don’t upset the eco-system in anyway. This is a welcome change to see, when often the case is that developers are in such a hurry to industrialise a product and make money that they don’t take the time out to first assess what the environmental impact might be.