CORDIS - Forschungsergebnisse der EU

High-Performance Standardised System for Mass Production of Premium Freshwater Fish

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SilGen (High-Performance Standardised System for Mass Production of Premium Freshwater Fish)

Berichtszeitraum: 2021-05-01 bis 2022-04-30

SilGen was an R&D project, with the aim to develop, standardise, and pre-commercialise a complex state-of-the-art production method of European catfish, enabling mass market introduction of a beautiful, wild, predatory fish with white, boneless, firmly textured filet.
There is a large and constantly growing consumer demand for fish in the EU and worldwide, yet natural waters are on the edge of overfishing and capture fisheries cannot satisfy market need. Aquaculture production is the only way to go, but EU is characterised by a fragmented approach and is thus not able to compete well with global competitors, covering more than half of its consumption from imports.
SilGen offers a complete system of highly efficient aquaculture for mass production of premium quality fish that is guaranteed free of contaminants. The technology is highly sustainable, can be operated under any geographical and climatic conditions, and offers 200% productivity vs traditional methods.
SilGen builds on the novel opportunity offered by the comprehensive package of a newly domesticated predatory species of the native European catfish, scientifically formulated feed, and an elaborate production technology that has been perfected over a decade, now ready for deployment. However, marketing a complex novel package is a bold, disruptive step, translating to risk for initial adopters. Therefore demonstrator farms were piloted, establishing technology reference, market replication, and commercial bridgehead position in one go.
The real-life piloting featured technology standardisation, operational protocols for different environmental conditions, business management, advanced feed formulation and species standardisation, as well as marketing and commercial preparatory actions.
The project has resulted in two product types: a complex farming technology, and a premium consumer product. The technology will be commercialised under a franchise brand (SilGen Noble Wels®), ensuring investment-light fast growth and strong scalability.
Beyond the economic gains and global perspective, the transformative technology has the power to resolve structural limits of the European fish supply sector and drive consumer habits towards high quality, healthy, local produce, alleviating EU reliance on imports and reducing environmental footprint.
Despite the direct and indirect negative impacts of the concurrent COVID situation, the project has made good progress, although some flexible deviations had to be introduced to cope with the challenges.
The main activities in the first year focused on the standardisation of the different technologies. In the end, the consortium has managed to standardise 4 technologies: i) intensive method, ii) semi-intensive earthen pond, iii) semi-intensive cages, and iv) tank-by-pond hybrid method. This was a major milestone in the development, as these technologies gave the basis of the SilGen project. In addition to the standardisation, we also developed the quality assurance system that enables uniform output of these technologies.
The second main result in the first period was the start of the piloting. Although the piloting started with some delay to what was originally planned due to the travel restrictions raised by COVID (extreme difficulty in transporting sperm and egg at the given period), the consortium has managed to start the feed piloting on time and the brood piloting with some delay. By the end of the project we managed to test 4 different breeds including 2 mixed hybrid ones and 3 different feeds optimised for the different technologies.
The genetics results validated our initial assumptions that the best performing broods will be the mixed hybrid ones, and as a result we have managed to create our own SilGen brood which outperformed the other ones. These tests were carried out in an intensive environment which meant we could run the tests for nearly a year and show how full table size can be reached in this period.
The feed tests were also a success, as our newly developed low-cost feed outperformed existing feeds both in an economic sense and also in its environmental footprint, which was an important factor in the development. As a result, we have managed to complete a full lifecycle impact assessment for the technology and calculated the corresponding environmental footprint. The results convincingly showed that SilGen technology has notable advantages over other aquacultures and other animal production technologies. Although there is always a trade-off depending on the location and environmental conditions of the production site, the adaptability of SilGen enables optimising the setup according to specific characteristics of each location.
Significant progress was also achieved with the non-technical tasks. We have reviewed the IPR environment and derived a comprehensive strategy on how to protect the results, which by themselves turned out to be difficult to protect. As a result we have trademarked the SlGen Noble Wels® brand which incorporates all the SilGen knowhow. We have prepared our franchise-type business plan including a brand strategy and product portfolio. We readjusted our communication and marketing strategy and as result carried out a very effective campaign reaching a large target audience. Furthermore, we have already received interest from fish farms to use our technology a well as potential customers who would like to distribute our convenience products.
By the end of the project the SilGen consortium has up 4 aquaculture demonstrators in different environments to showcase performance indicators: superior production, economics, environmental impact, risks, jobs, commercial success. The demonstrators include the intensive (RAS) method, the two most effective semi-intensive methods (earthen pond and cages) and also a novel hybrid method (tank-by-pond) showing broad adaptability of the production technology.
We completed the brood stock enhancement via genetic selection. The feed was also optimised to the standardised technologies, species, and environments. In addition, we have created a product portfolio so the high quality and standardised catfish can be sold to consumers in various forms, satisfying the demand and maximising profits. We completed the SilGen business development to determine operational and business management standards; the brand was devised and introduced as the new industry benchmark.
In addition to this, the SilGen project will have a much wider impact as well to answer societal issues such as overfishing and healthy eating habits. Overfishing is a non-sustainable use of the ocean because we are removing the fish at a much greater rate than they can reproduce. At the same time, demand for fish is constantly increasing, aggravating the problem of overfishing to eventually catastrophic dimensions, unless suitable replacement technology for fish supply is introduced to the market such as SilGen. Furthermore, the quality of marine fish is greatly affected by environmental pollution, increasing year by year. SilGen System 100% guarantees fish quality as it uses fully controlled environment, taking into consideration the wellbeing of the fish. It offers traceable and healthy fish products so safe that even pregnant women and small children can eat it. SilGen can effectively contribute to ensuring food security and nutrition for all, in a highly enjoyable, convenient, and accessible way.
Sous Vide SilGen wels