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Green Aquaculture Intensification in Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GAIN (Green Aquaculture Intensification in Europe)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2020-10-31

GAIN is designed to support the ecological intensification of aquaculture in the EU and the EEA, with the dual objectives of increasing production and competitiveness of the industry, while ensuring sustainability and compliance with EU regulations on food safety and environment. Eco-intensification of European aquaculture is a transdisciplinary challenge that requires the integration of scientific and technical innovations, new policies and economic instruments, as well as the mitigation of social constraints.
Successful eco-intensification of aquaculture will provide more and better aquatic products, more jobs, and improve trade balance by reducing imports. GAIN, besides looking at innovative ways of integrating cultured species, will seek integration with other sectors, in order to promote the implementation of the principles of circular economy in Aquaculture. The GAIN Consortium includes a wide range of complementary expertise and a well blended mix of research institutes and industrial partners, which will ensure the achievement of the following specific objectives:
(i) Develop and optimize sustainable feeds, without increasing the pressure on land and fish stocks;
(ii) Add value to cultivation, by means of innovative processes, which turn both by-products and side-streams into valuable secondary materials, thus increasing profits and minimizing the environmental footprint;
(ii) Improve the management of finfish and shellfish farms, in terms of FCR, fish welfare and reduction of wastes, through the use of sensors, biomarkers, Big Data, IoT (Internet of Things) and predictive mathematical models;
(iv) Support integrated policies and address current barriers to the implementation of the principles of circular economy in aquatic production.
Main activities and results achieved during the first 30 months are summarised below:
Obj 1: Innovative feeds based on emerging ingredients and by products from GAIN innovative circular processes were designed and tested. Ingredients were selected taking into account their nutritional properties and their sustainability. New feed formulations were tested in 2 sets of feed trials: 1)innovative formulations based on emerging ingredients, were tested on Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, seabream, and turbot. 2)Ingredients based on by products from GAIN were added to feed formulations tested on Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, turbot and seabass, as, due to covid-19 pandemic, it was not possible to test them on seabream. Growth performances and feed conversions turned out to be very good for rainbow trout and good for salmon, seabream and turbot, in comparison to those obtained using control feeds. A set of Key Performance Indicators is being determined.
Obj 2: Ten pilot sites were instrumented to test different tools for real time monitoring of environmental variables and fish/shellfish responses, e.g. growth rate, mortality, appetite. Field data were processed on the basis of standardized protocols and integrated with data from other sources, e.g. Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service, in the GAIN Information Management System (IMS). This platform is made up of: 1) a centralized hub for data collection, standardization, quality control and short term predictions of environmental variables relevant for aquafarmers, e.g. water temperature; 2) a set of distributed web based modelling systems, i.e Aquasense, delivering to farmer decision support products, e.g. short term forecast of fish growth, dissolved oxygen concentrationObj 3: Innovative processes to recover nutrients from RAS (Recirculation Aquaculture Systems) wastewater and sludges and from fish mortalities were optimized, up to TRL 7-8. Based on quantitative and qualitative analysis of GAIN target species by-products, the production of Fish Protein Hydrolysates (FPH) was optimised and the extraction of peptones and gelatine were investigated. FPH were used as a component of novel aquaculture feeds, see Obj 1. The use of mussel shells as sustainable filler media for RAS/Aquaponics biofilters was tested, at TRL4. The possibility of establishing nutrient trading schemes for bivalve culture areas in Europe was investigated, taking into account also results obtained in the U.S.
Obj 4: Regulatory and legislative issues for the circular economy in aquaculture were reviewed. The analysis showed that the lack of legislation is still one of the main barrier towards the implementation of integrated production processes targeting 0 waste, such as those being tested in GAIN. Results of the analysis and suggestions for lowering the barrier were presented in a submitted paper.
Obj 5: A preliminary Value Chain Analysis (VCA) was performed to assess how product flows are being utilised for the following species: Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, European seabass, gilthead seabream, common carp, turbot, blue mussel, pacific and European oyster, striped catfish and tilapia. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, the VCA could not be completed for rainbow trout European seabass, gilthead seabream and shellfish: these activities will be performed soon.
Obj 6: A set of candidate indicators, to be included in EISI - Eco-Intensification Sustainability Index, was identified. These indicators cover 4 areas: environment, fish welfare, economy and social sustainability. The EISI index will be populated and tested by the end of the project.
Main progress and expected impact are listed below.
1) GAIN is developing a set of tools to assist aquaculture producers. The main tool is the GAIN IMS, which implements the principles of Precision Fish and Shellfish Farming.
2) GAIN activities concerning the design and testing of novel feeds were delayed by the covid-19 pandemic: nevertheless, field trials were completed. Preliminary results of the second set of trials confirms that the reuse of aquaculture by-products, are likely to increase profitability and decrease in environmental impact, in terms of Fish Meal and Fish Oil savings.
3) GAIN activities concerning the design and testing of novel feeds proceeded as planned. Results obtained in 1stphase indicated that the second set of trials, in which feeds included components obtained from aquaculture by-products, were likely to be successful, thus leading to increase in profitability and decrease in environmental impact, in terms of Fish Meal and Fish Oil savings. This was confirmed by the preliminary results: the full set of KPI will be delivered by the end of the project.
4) Activities concerning VCA were rescheduled, in order to optimize the collection of relevant data, required by the application of LCA to the sustainability assessment of GAIN innovations. Furthermore, the covid-19 pandemic affected the data collection. As a result, progress on high-values niche species is expected soon.
5) The preparation of GAIN training activities started in November 2019, as scheduled, but the outbreak of covid-19 pandemic suggested to reorient them, as it will be hardly possible to organize successful training courses in presence in 2021. Therefore, a series of online courses and a 1-week Summer School will be delivered on-line, conditional to the acceptance of an amendment to the GAIN Description of Action, in preparation.
Rossoya Nord_Norway_Gifas Pilot site