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Sustainable farming of European catfish (Silurus glanis) for innovative, resource efficient and eco-friendly pond farm production

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SILGEN (Sustainable farming of European catfish (Silurus glanis) for innovative, resource efficient and eco-friendly pond farm production)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2016-05-31

According to the latest EUMOFA reports between 2012 and 2013, total world fishery and aquaculture production increased by 5%, from 181 million tonnes to almost 190 million tonnes. Of this, the EU was responsible for 3,22%, making it the fourth largest global fish producer, after China, Indonesia and India. However we currently import 68% of the seafood we eat and only 10% of our consumption is farmed here. The EU is a major seafood consumption market with household expenditures of EUR 54,7 billion in 2013 which marked a 1% increase over 2012 – the highest amount ever recorded. The market trends show that EU consumers buy less seafood but spend more for it, which indicates a change in consumption preferences as well as fish prices. EU consumption is still dominated by captured fish, which represents 75% of the total. The most remarkable phenomena observed are the increasing consumption of salmon and herring, and the stabilisation of pangasius.
As today over 70% of world fish stocks are fully exploited, fish farmed in the EU provides a healthy, fresh and local alternative. Fish farming can help to relieve this burden on wild fishes when it comes to satisfying our ever growing demand for fish – both in the EU and worldwide. One of the world's fastest growing food sectors, fish farming accounts for about half of the fish eaten worldwide every year with that figure on the rise. Sustainable aquaculture is needed to provide fresh, high-quality, local supply of healthy products which follows strict rules to protect the consumer, the fish and the environment.
We would like to be a very strong competitor of the South -East Asian dump of Pangasius (Pangasius sp.), producing fresh and safely controlled food on our domestic and European market. The market needs “boneless” fish, as e.g. one of our native predatory fishes, European catfish (Silurus glanis). Due to quality concerns and marketing campaigns by 2012 EU imports of pangasius products, of which 98% is frozen fillet, fell a significant 27%. In fact, the EU imports of pangasius fillets were almost 23.000 tonnes lower compared with 2011, indicating declining demand. Price of frozen pangasius also decreased by 15% from 2010, while price of frozen fillets (the most important segment of pangasius consumption) remained stable. We identified this trend as a market opportunity for introducing high quality, local, sustainable SILGEN catfish and gaining the trust of consumers with locally produced “boneless” fish products. More than 80,000 people are already directly employed in European aquaculture, and this figure is expected to grow as more and more of our seafood is provided by EU fish farmers.
Our company, Aranyponty Halászati Zrt. is one of the biggest freshwater producers in Central Europe and we are one of the first private companies in operation since 1989. We have full-scale fish farm system of over 1500 hectares at Retimajor, operating a high standard fish hatchery and a number of wintering ponds. Our quality assurance system grants high-quality, local product traceable from egg to plate. Our business roadmap consists of diversifying our product portfolio and use our lower performing extensive aquaculture system for more profitable culture.
The main aim of our project is to analyse the feasibility of developing a large scale production of European catfish and commercialising the SILGEN methodology via the following main tools:
• Installing a special arrangement in the traditional large ponds creating an intensive and extensive unit; applying indoor and outdoor culture periods, further improving our already successful European catfish production technologies, developed by a previous project. This new method will be a more environment friendly way of production since it needs less water, and energy per kg produced fish and minimize N and P input into the water because does not apply manuring.
• Developing specially selected broodstock for this technology using up to date method (marker assisted selection to run by our university partner). For this purpose we plan to exploit the genetic diversity of our catfish race collection (4 Hungarian and 3 foreign race) to select for improved growth rate, disease tolerance and reduced feed conversion at conditions of our new technology.
The end product of our improved stocks will be table size European catfish (fresh on ice and processed) and the buyers will be the same European traders who buy more than a million tons of fish from out of Europe.
During the feasibility study we carried out the following tasks:
1. Market assessment
2. Operational and technological feasibility
3. Economic feasibility
4. Identify potential traders and conclude agreements with them.
5. Identify and conclude agreements with potential test sites.
6. IP and exploitation management.
7. Risk assessment and contingency planning.
These tasks have been carried out successfully and as a result a comprehensive feasibility study was prepared. We have managed to develop a business plan and create agreements with potential customers.
The final result of the SILGEN SME Instrument Phase 1 project was that we understood much better the needs and possibilities of the market and we were able to harmonize of our goals with them. Furthermore, we have built a very strong business networks which will help our project realization. We have implement every actions that aimed to mitigate the risks of the commercialization of SILGEN.
For all these reasons the SILGEN project is ready to move to the next phase of the implementation. The SILGEN project will have significant societal impacts when it will become available on the market through providing the European population with a healthy food (fish) that is controlled and widely available.