Pallab Sarker

Pallab Sarker is a Research Assistant Professor in Sustainable Aquaculture in the Environmental Studies Program at Dartmouth. His research interests involve shifting aquaculture, the world’s fastest growing food sector, to sustainability by redesigning the composition of aquaculture feeds because they drive life-cycle environmental effects of aquaculture, both inputs and emissions (pollution). The main focus of his current research is to develop a fish-free and crop-free aquaculture diet by combining different species of micro- and macro-algae and developing targeted biochemical/mechanical manipulations to maximize the diet’s nutrient quality, economic viability, and benefits for environmental conservation. He is an expert in sustainable aquaculture and nutrition, and he worked with several freshwater (rainbow trout, tilapia, Indian major carps, common carp, and silver barb) and marine water aquaculture fish species (yellowtail, Japanese flounder and shrimp).

Dr. Sarker received his B.Sc in Fisheries and M.S. in Fisheries Technology from Bangladesh Agricultural University (1994, 1998). He received Scholarship (Monbukagakusho) from Government of Japan, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for his graduate studies in Japan, leading to his M.Sc. (2004, Lab of Fish Nutrition, Kochi University) and Ph.D. (2007, United Graduate School of Agriculture, Ehime University). His research in Japan focused on nutritional strategies to reduce environmental impacts (pollution) of fish culture by changing feed formulations to meet nutrient requirements and incorporating enzymes into diets of Japanese flounder and yellowtail.

As a postdoctoral researcher at Laval University, Canada (2008-2012) he conducted and coordinated the following aquaculture nutrition and physiology core research programs: 1) optimization of the composition of practical diets for rainbow trout aquaculture – including studies on alternative feedstuffs to reduce reliance on fish meal and fish oil and on strategies to minimize phosphorous and nitrogen loading and contaminants in aquaculture wastes; 2) effects of vitamin (biotin) on growth, survival, biotin deficiency syndrome, and gene expression of Nile tilapia and zebrafish; and 3) strategies to prevent off-flavors in rainbow trout raised in recirculating aquaculture systems in order to improve the quality of both the farmed fish and water resources.

Dr. Sarker was a Scientific Officer at the Brackishwater Station in Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (1998-2002) where he conducted research in adaptive aquaculture and practical aspects of fish/shrimp nutrition. He initiated and led shrimp feed formulation research from locally available fishmeal and alternative feed ingredients for sustainable development of this industry in Bangladesh. His research on integrated rice-fish farming led to the dissemination of genetically improved farmed tilapia (GIFT) and common carps in coastal regions of Bangladesh. As workshop/seminar coordinator at the Brackishwater Station, he led the dissemination of aquaculture technology working with stakeholders such as the shrimp/fish industry, regulatory agencies, educators and the public, businesses, consumers, local communities, and academic and federal scientists.

He is the member of the editorial board of the Journal of Aquaculture & Marine Biology and EC Nutrition. He is a member of the manuscript review committee of 7 peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Sarker’s current research at Dartmouth investigates the in vivo and in vitro digestibility of different marine algae/co-products and their incorporation in tilapia and salmonids feed formulae to eliminate the use of industrial crops and forage fish in aquafeed to foster environmentally sustainable, economically viable and socially responsible aquaculture while assuring human health benefits of fish raised on these diets. Marine algae are excellent sources of essential amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids that meet the requirements of fish.

Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food industry in the world, now producing more edible biomass than wild seafood for humans, making it a fundamental part of future food production. Although aquaculture contributes significantly to the animal protein consumption on a global scale, it raises important questions in the realm of sustainability science. Aquaculture is increasingly dependent on terrestrial crops (soy, corn) and wild fish (fishmeal and fish oil extracted from small ocean fish or “forage fish,” such as anchovy) for feeds—deeply unsustainable—and damaging to aquatic ecosystems. Aquafeeds now use over 70% of the world’s fishmeal and fish oil from unsustainably-sourced forage fish. Large-scale diversion and overfishing pose several environmentally unsustainable consequences. Aquafeeds also contain large amounts of soy and corn ingredients obtained from industrial farms that cause significant environmental damage, especially eutrophication of rivers, lakes and coastal waters; have deficiencies in key essential amino acids; and, for their oils, lack health-promoting long-chain Omega-3s EPA and DHA. Moreover, fish cannot fully digest phosphorus content of fishmeal, soy, and corn, and this elevates nutrient pollution in aquaculture effluents.

Dr. Sarker is on the cutting edge of research on the issue as one of very few scientists in his field dedicated to innovating a sustainable aquafeed that address both the problems of sourcing and waste streams.

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