Researchers seek sustainable feed, food options in the Atlantic

European Union-funded AquaVitae Consortium has invited the University of New England in the U.S. to join its international group of researchers working on the development of more sustainable aquaculture systems.

Wrangel | BigStock.com
Wrangel | BigStock.com

European Union-funded AquaVitae Consortium has invited the University of New England in the U.S. to join its international group of researchers working on the development of more sustainable aquaculture systems.

With the growing global human population putting more pressure on global resources, scientists are looking into the potential for exploiting previously overlooked feed and food sources that can be produced sustainably and more reliably under increasingly variable climatic conditions.

Among those systems that may offer opportunities to these ends is low-trophic marine aquaculture — that is, the culture of species that are low in the natural food chain in the world’s oceans and seas.

Representing the U.S., the University of New England (UNE) has been invited to join 35 other partners on the AquaVitae Consortium. With funding of EUR8 million (US$9.1 million) from the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 umbrella, the Consortium has been tasked with the acceleration of the development, education and communication of sustainable low-trophic aquaculture for states around the Atlantic Ocean.

Through its School of Marine Programs and Institute for North Atlantic Studies (UNE North), UNE’s primary role will be in the development of training and education pathways to support the aquaculture ecosystems.

“For UNE faculty and students, AquaVitae provides information and interactions with 35 consortium partners in higher education, national research institutes, and industries involved in a wide range of aquaculture disciplines such as hatchery production, processing, resource management, economics, environmental monitoring, product development, marketing and consumer behavior,” said Barry Costa-Pierce, UNE North’s executive director.

AquaVitae Consortium’s mission

Announced at a meeting in Tromso, Norway, this month, the AquaVitae Consortium is bringing together industry and research partners from across the length and breadth of the Atlantic to address relevant societal challenges, according to project coordinator, Philip John James. He is a senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research (NOFIMA).

As well as UNE and NOFIMA, partners come from 16 countries on four continents — North America, South America and Africa, as well as Iceland, Norway and eight European Union member states.

Over the next four years, five products and systems will be explored by the multinational group in terms of their introduction into the marine aquaculture value chain across the Atlantic Ocean, namely macroalgae (seaweeds), echinoderms (such as sea urchins), shellfish and finfish, as well as those involving the farming of several species together using waste from one species to feed another in a system known as integrated multi-trophic aquaculture or IMTA.

“The value chains were selected because of their promising contributions to sustainable food and feed production. There is a lot of potential in these value chains and we wish to discover new ways to improve them,” said James.

Eleven case studies will be undertaken by the AquaVitae Consortium. These include the development of new products from low-trophic species (algae and sea urchins), the optimization of the production of fish and shellfish that are already farmed, and the achievement of zero waste and a circular economy in aquaculture using IMTA and the Biofloc waste treatment system.

Key to the success of the project, according to NOFIMA, is the inclusion of industry representatives along with research scientists to ensure stakeholder involvement at each phase.

Page 1 of 47
Next Page