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Improving Aquaculture production with bioactives from olive oil processing by-products.

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Natural fish feed additive improves salmon health and boosts aquaculture production

Sustainability is a key challenge the aquaculture industry is facing. An innovative supplement that improves fish health and benefits the entire supply chain could help.

Food and Natural Resources

If we want to feed a growing world population, we’re going to need a lot more fish. Demand for this highly nutritious (and delicious) food is growing: estimates suggest a rise of 30 % by 2030. Analysis from the UN suggests that by 2050, aquaculture production will need to grow by 50 % to meet the surging demand. The aquaculture industry will need to increase production while remaining sustainable, a significant challenge. Fish farmers are looking for new sustainable solutions that improve salmon health and resilience, which means they can use less medication. The EU-funded AQUOLIVE project has developed a natural, plant-based fish food supplement that significantly improves the health of farmed salmon. AQUOLIVE uses a sustainable business model, upcycling biomass from the olive oil industry. This method draws on available and unused resources, adding value while reducing the environmental impact. Early tests have shown the product reduces mortality from bacterial infections by over 95 percent. “AQUOLIVE improves the health and overall well-being of the fish, while making a decisive contribution to improving the sustainability of the entire value chain,” says José María Pinilla, project manager at Natac, which developed the product.

Drawing on the secrets of the olive

AQUOLIVE is a unique patented formulation of bioactive compounds present in olives. While studying the effects of olive phytochemicals for human health, the Natac R&D team found that certain combinations controlled chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. They realised the potential benefits of this in animal nutrition and got to work on the new aquaculture project. The supplement works to improve the immune system at both systemic level (head kidney) and local level (gut), stimulating both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in key organs and tissues. This is critical for fish facing the challenges of a dynamic aquaculture environment. Moving from freshwater to saltwater (smoltification), variable temperatures, potential microbial infections and diseases all threaten the survival of farmed salmon. AQUOLIVE is produced from olive fruit, using a novel upcycling approach that reduces the olive industry’s environmental impact. Using this resource not only brings environmental benefits, but also adds a fresh economic link between olive oil producers in southern Europe and salmon farmers in Norway.

An innovative functional feed additive ready for production

Studies conducted in Norway and Spain were a success, showing the benefits of the product. “We have gained all necessary scientific evidence to support the efficacy of AQUOLIVE as a functional ingredient that improves salmon health and resilience,” remarks Pinilla. Through the use of large-scale olive oil production plants, the supplement can be mass-produced at competitive prices, explains Pinilla. The team are now working to bring the product to market, securing commercial agreements with clients in the salmon feed and fish additive industries. “We have developed and upscaled a robust, cost-effective and reliable production process and guaranteed all the regulatory aspects to enter the market,” Pinilla adds.


AQUOLIVE, fish, feed, salmon, sustainable, olive, biomass

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3 December 2019