Skretting ARC researchers part of AquaIMPACT: boosting the efficiency of European aquaculture with genomic and nutritional enhancements

6 February 2019

Sea bass and sea bream on ice

Global challenges redirect our eating habits towards diets that include more healthy foods, such as fish. EU consumers eat approximately 24.3 kg of farmed fish each year (in 2016). Global seafood consumption has more than doubled in the past 15 years, and aquaculture production is still growing 5-6 % annually. EU needs actions to provide sustainably produced fish more efficiently, and to boost the business around aquaculture.

Major impact within EU

AquaIMPACT (Genomic and Nutritional Innovations for Genetically Superior Farmed Fish to Improve Efficiency in European Aquaculture) is a new Horizon 2020 project coordinated by Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), that integrates the fields of fish breeding and nutrition to increase the competiveness of EU's aquaculture of Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, gilthead seabream and European seabass. The aim is to ensure food and nutrition security and to satisfy consumer demands for high-quality seafood with limited environmental impact. The four species together represent 75% in volume and 89% in value of the total farmed finfish production in Europe.

“The project will open the possibility to design diets according to the new achievements from breeding programs in a number of species,” says Ramon Fontanillas, senior researcher at Skretting Aquaculture Research Centre (ARC). “It will provide advanced genomic tools as well as new methods to predict fish performance and composition based on early samplings, noninvasive or small sample amount to evaluate and apply the results.”

Novel technologies implemented within industry

“AquaIMPACT creates and implements next-generation selective breeding methodology, and produces novel nutritional protocols for the genetically superior fish originating from breeding programmes. Genomic selection technology is especially suitable for more effective improvement of traits such as disease resistance, quality, and processing traits. To support these objectives, we develop machine learning and IoT to provide added value for feed development, genotyping, trait recording and data processing in practical breeding programmes”, says project coordinator Antti Kause fromNatural Resources Institute Finland. Furthermore, the use of emerging raw materials, insect meal and single-cell organisms, and novel functional additives are optimised in aquafeeds.

“Skretting ARC is directly involved in work related to all species except trout, and will produce the experimental feeds for trials run in collaboration with NOFIMA, University of Las Palmas, IFREMER, CSIC and MOWI among other partners, and also be involved in the discussion on how to implement the results,” says Grethe Rosenlund, principal researcher at Skretting ARC.

The developed solutions will produce more robust, healthy, nutritious and resource-efficient farmed fish, promoting industrial practices for re-circular bioeconomy, fish welfare, zero-waste and more efficiency use of natural resources. These combined with communication actions will support consumers to make sustainable and healthy food choices.

The AquaIMPACT kick off meeting was held in Helsinki on 30-31 January 2019. The consortium consists of 11 companies and 13 research institutes, with solid track-record for developing technological advancement for the benefit of industries and consumers. The project will run over 4 years.

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