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AQUAculture and Agriculture BIOmass side stream PROteins and bioactives for Feed, FITness and health promoting nutritional supplements

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AQUABIOPROFIT (AQUAculture and Agriculture BIOmass side stream PROteins and bioactives for Feed, FITness and health promoting nutritional supplements)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-09-30

Large amounts of fish and fish byproducts from fisheries or aquaculture are wasted or underutilized in animal feeds in Europe. Cage farming effluents being uneaten feeds and faeces and nutrients from activities on land contribute with hundreds of thousand tons nutrient rich side stream biomasses still containing proteins, bioactive peptides, long chain ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, organic minerals, vitamins and more, that to be collected, preserved, extracted and used for higher value products, considerable investments and new knowledge development is needed. Reliable documentation and consumer education as well as the establishment of appropriate legislative framework are also indispensable so that developed products successfully reach and establish in the markets.

The objective of AQUABIOPRO-FIT is to remove bottlenecks and fill gaps of knowledge bringing together an interdisciplinary team of experts to develop ingredients and products from lipids, proteins and other bioactive ingredients and thoroughly document their functionality in major target groups, such as athletes, consumers of fitness and beauty products and specific patient groups. The products will be backed by well-documented mechanistic data obtained using pre-clinical models to support their effectiveness and superiority to competitive products. A large supplier of fish side stream biomass, two processing SMEs of aquaculture, agriculture effluents and fish processing side stream biomasses are members of the consortium, possessing relevant products in the market. Our consortium includes highly recognised research, academic and vocational training organisations which will ensure the development of quality materials, scalable technologies, standardised methods, training protocols and appropriate documentation of biological activity. Environmental engineers and economists will fine-tune the project products to comply with demanding financial and environmental sustainability principles.
The project’s identity is created establishing the project logo and website ( Our first works were to identify market opportunities and barriers and the necessary volumes and qualities of major aquaculture and fisheries side stream biomasses for the development of AQUABIOPRO-FIT innovative supplements for human fitness and health, that can be competitive in the market.

Side stream materials from fisheries and aquaculture were thus processed and analysed extensively for their composition in macro and micronutrients. Detailed data have been accumulated on the content of fish heads, guts, backbones, skin, liver, gills and fillets of different species (Atlantic salmon, European seabass, Gilthead seabream, blue whiting, herring and mackerel) in proteins, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, macro and trace minerals.
Innovative processing methods for fish by-products and Ciona biomass for the production of meals for animal feeds and products for human consumption were identified and described, including conventional and non-conventional technologies such as heat processing, chemical and enzymatic hydrolysis, filtration, Supercritical CO2 extraction and Pulse electric fields. Lab, pilot and large-scale infrastructures necessary for the realisation of the project works and available within the AQUABIOPRO-FIT consortium were mapped and upgraded to match the project needs.

Ciona intestinalis culture was established and the production has been successful yielding biomasses for tests, including studying the rheological properties of the material in the production of extruded feeds for Atlantic salmon. Co-culturing Ciona intestinalis with salmonids in RAS and macroalgae in the sea was also tested. Last Ciona fond, a novel gourmet food product was developed for use as sauce in meat and fish meals. The processing works of the project are evolving from lab to pilot scale. A significant stream of products is tested chemically, biologically in cell cultures and mice, and sensory panels. We have produced a.o. hydrolysates from salmon, mackerel and herring by-products, functional extracts from sea bream and sea bass heads and backbones, and protein powders and collagen from whitefish, flounder, herring and salmon skins and trimmings. As documentation on bioactivities that will be used to create the project’s elixirs is being created, we are preparing the questionnaires for the selection of the volunteers and the monitoring of their condition during the trials with humans.

The technical evaluation of the AQUABIOPRO-FIT concepts includes modelling and simulation of the selected technologies creating equipment user models that will allow us to calculate the main outputs for the mass and energy balances in downstream processing major fish side stream and Ciona biomasses and provide relevant information for a future scale-up. The economic and environmental validation and assessment of the project technologies is being evaluated by Life cycle cost analysis life cycle assessment, respectively.
A communication and dissemination plan for the project is made and put in action, including early on presentation of the project and project results in events and conferences. We are building a Project showcase to building AQUABIOPRO-FIT as a versatile e-tool that presents the project achievements following its dynamic, designed for variety of end-users and target groups and communicates its activities to customers, candidates and clients. The tool will be composed of 3 sections including a training toolkit to promote acquisition and transfer of specific knowledge within project subject area, a repository and a Webinar.
The most significant scientific and technological achievements of AQUABIOPRO-FIT are:
- We have characterised extensively the nutritional composition of a long list of fish fractions/side stream biomasses that can become available for further exploitation in great volumes in the nutritional supplement raw material market, both chemically, biochemically and in cell cultures for their bioactivity.
- We have developed and verified in lab but also pilot scale innovative processes for the refinement of bioactive fish protein fractions of acceptable organoleptic characteristics.
- We have successfully produced collagen from different side stream sources.
- We have successfully established Ciona intestinalis cultivation and produced Ciona fond for human consumption and meals in pilot-large scale for use in fish feeds.
The potential impacts of our project results are significant and include:
- Creation of new sustainable products and value chains based on side stream biomass
- Establishing technologies and documentation for the production of more and highly nutritious food to prevent food waste and promote circular economy and reduce EU countries’ dependency on imports in food and feed
- Creation of incentives and knowledge-based foundations for the establishment of new businesses in the food supplement market
- Creation of educational training courses to increase capacities among workers and support the development of a knowledge based circular economy society where men and women can have equal opportunities and decent income.
- Reduce the pressure from human food production activities on the biodiversity on land and in the water.
Salmon by products/ heads and backbones
Herring by products/heads
Mackrell skin