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Cultivated barnacle offspring – the solution for realizing marine aquaculture growth

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MAXIPLAN (Cultivated barnacle offspring – the solution for realizing marine aquaculture growth)

Reporting period: 2019-08-01 to 2020-07-31

The production of marine fish and crustaceans in aquaculture rely on live feeds to support early development. Rotifers and Artemia, used at marine nurseries today, are a very poor nutritional match for most marine species in aquaculture. Also, bio-security is considered as a high risk when introducing rotifers/artemia to the production tanks. Juvenile fish and crustaceans are normally pelagic, and prey on planktonic organisms in their early life stages. Crustacean plankton are their natural prey items in their natural biota, and are considered to meet the juvenile fish/crustaceans nutritional requirements. When offered a natural live feed, the marine juveniles will respond with better growth and survival rates, and also a far better immune system. Our solution is to offer the marine juveniles in aquaculture cryopreserved barnacle offspring (nauplii). The nauplii from barnacles are cryopreserved and stored in liquid nitrogen, and when thawed they become alive again, which is a necessity for being preyed upon by marine fish larvae in aquaculture. Some aquaculture species are not dependent of live prey, but nevertheless, a feed that meets their nutritional requirements is still important. We have developed an inert feed of intact barnacle nauplii to be used in shrimp nurseries.

The EU Blue Growth Strategy (COM/2012/494) and Atlantic Action Plan (COM/2013/0279) both seek to harness research and innovation to boost competitiveness and innovation potential of the European seafood sector and drive regional growth. MAXIPLAN follows recommendations of the World Resources Institute “to produce more fish per unit land and water and reduce reliance on wild-caught fish”. It supports several UN Sustainable Development
Goals: - ensure access to sufficient and nutritious food; - sustainable consumption and production through more efficient use of natural resources, appropriate waste management and pollutant disposal, while promoting
sustainable consumption in society; - climate change and marine habitat protection by supporting reduced wild captures. Besides significantly strengthening existing EU finfish aquaculture industry, MAXIPLAN brings a market
creation opportunity in facilitating early-stage shrimp farming to Europe. MAXIPLAN will help increase European self-sufficiency in seafood production amidst geopolitical and climate upheaval.

The overall objective of the MAXIPLAN project is to cultivate barnacles in extensive production systems in sea and to trial the MAXIPLAN feed products on sea bream and shrimp at commercial hatcheries. With an efficient cultivation technology, Planktonic will manage to produce enough barnacle offspring to supply the global live feed market, and to totally replace rotifers and Artemia in aquaculture. CryoMax and SteriMax, which contributes the MAXIPLAN feed, will increase growth and survival of juveniles of marine fish and crustaceans. Also, as seen on other species, the quality of the marine juveniles will be much improved, with a better immune system and robustness.
In the MAXIPLAN project, the overall aim is to efficiently produce barnacle eggs/nauplii by cultivation in extensive growth systems, and to demonstrate the resulting feed products in the MAXIPLAN line at a sea bream and a shrimp hatchery.

Two main products are produced in the MAXIPLAN project, SteriMax and CryoMax. Both SteriMax and CryoMax are produced in two sizes, small and large. The small size is based on raw material from the subtidal species Balanus crenatus, whereas the large size is based on raw material from the intertidal species Semibalanus balanoides.

Several prototypes for cultivating barnacles were tested, and we have identified the two most promising growth systems which now have been deployed in the sea as pilot systems. One of the pilot systems are Vertical Substrate Modules (VSM) for the intertidal species S. balanoides, and the other is submerged web-bands for the subtidal species B. crenatus.

A transportable processing unit were explored in the project. The intention of a transportable processing unit is to semi-process the MAXIPLAN products close to the cultivation site. A transport container was modified, with liftable roof and sidewalls, and fitted the needed processing equipment for extracting eggs/nauplii from adult barnacles. We managed to reduce the foot-print of our processing equipment so it could be fitted inside the transportable container.

Trials were made on the most efficient storage methods for producing the SteriMax product, and we found that producing it in the transportable processing container was ideal. Semi-processed eggs/nauplii from the two species that makes SteriMax Small and Large could be produced close to the cultivation site in the 40’ container and stored up to 10 days before a need for transportation to the factory for full sterilization. CryoMax Large can also be produced in the transportable container, but with limited storage time to obtain maximum vitality. It turned out that CryoMax Small was unsuitable for being produced in the transportable container, as the species which constitutes this diet, are more fragile and has to be cryopreserved when as fresh as possible.

A production unit developed in the project plan, based on new filtering/sedimentation technology, resulted in far better purity of the MAXIPLAN product. The yield of eggs/nauplii from the adult barnacles more than doubled, going from 5% in 2019 to almost 12% in 2020. Thus, we can extract far more eggs/nauplii than before from the same amount of raw material of adult barnacles.

In the project plan, the first feeding trials on sea bream should have been accomplished in Spring 2020. However, due to the Covid19 situation, we have not been able to go to our subcontractors in the project for performing the trials. Hopefully, we will be able to do start feeding on sea bream using the MAXIPLAN diets fall 2020. We have successfully tested CryoMax Small and CryoMax Large at two commercial hatcheries which are producing ballan wrasse in Norway. Ballan wrasse is not a volume species as sea bream in aquaculture, but it has a more complex start feeding cycle than sea bream. As we have succeeded replacing rotifers and artemia at ballan wrasse hatcheries, we are quite confident that we also will succeed using CryoMax as a live feed diet for sea bream.
Cryopreservation is normally a costly preservation method with the involvement of major human resources for producing small samples. Planktonic is cryopreserving barnacles by the tons, and have reduced costs severe compared to conventional cryopreservation technologies. Our former H2020 project, CryoPlankton2,was conducive to developing a succesful cost-effective cryopreservation protocol of barnacle offspring in industrial scale. Now, as the processing and cryopreservation of barnacle offspring is mastered, we are experiencing a new bottle neck in our production, which is the supply of more barnacle raw material.
Now, with the MAXIPLAN project, we aim to cultivate barnacles in industrial scale, and so far in the project we have two prototypes which is now deployed in the sea as pilot systems.

In the MAXIPLAN project, we have developed a new technology for sedimentation and filtering, which increases the yield of barnacle offspring from 5 to 12%. This is far beyond what was expected, and has major implications for investements, profitability and footprint of the cultivation systems.