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Research and Technology to enhance excellence in Aquaculture development under an Ecosystem approach

Final Report Summary - ECOAQUA (Research and Technology to enhance excellence in Aquaculture development under an Ecosystem approach)

Executive Summary:
One of the pillars of the EU's Blue Growth Strategy is the Aquaculture Production Sector. European aquaculture offers good quality products, respecting strict environmental sustainability, animal health and consumer protection standards. The demand of the EU seafood market is currently supplied for 25% from EU fisheries, 65% from imports and only l0% from EU aquaculture. The sustainable de velopment of Aquaculture can contribute to the Europe 2020 Strategy. Current EU consumption pro duced internally through aquaculture would help create between 3,000 and 4,000 full-time jobs. These figures confirms that the aquaculture sector has the potential to boost growth and jobs in the EU.
The EcoAqua project, framed in the EU ERA-Chair Program, will improve the performance of the Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) in competitive research fields of Sustainable Aquaculture and participate to an Ecosystem-based approach for the management of the marine en vironment. The incorporation of new and young talents in an institution provides multiple benefits, such as:
• Set up of innovative research programs providing a favourable environment for novel ideas.
• Promote the visibility of the ULPGC at the regional, national and international level.
• Facilitate collaborative research by pooling of resources, such as research expertise, ideas, funds and research materials.
• Tncreased dissemination of its research potential and innovation.
• Expansion of its ties with the industrial sector and help focus mid- to long-term research, in terms of societal benefits and its economic impact.

Ecoaqua Main Objective is to integrate outstanding researchers in the ULPGC to foster research ex cellence in Sustainable Aquaculture under a Ecosystem Approach strengthening the S&T research potential and capacities of ULPGC, underpinning its better integration into the ERA.

The specific Objectives of the EcoAqua project include:
• Consolidate existing research potential by means of the integration of an outstanding researcher and its team members.
• Develop the next generation of sustainable aquaculture research in European marine waters
• Tnitiate innovative approaches for sustainable aquaculture development.
• Develop sustainable aquaculture science and technology
• Capacity building inside the ERA and towards the Outermost Regions (ORs).
• Disseminate & extend knowledge to diverse Economic and Social Sectors.
• Tncrease public awareness of Aquaculture benefits under an Ecosystem Approach.


Ecoaqua Main Outputs include: The recruitment of experienced scientific personnel to integrate the teams of existing research groups. The improvement of the Scientific and Technological Equipment of the existing marine facilities of the ULPGC in the Marine Research and Technological Park and the optimization of their uses. The development of new marine research themes, new methodological approaches and new technical developments to reach research excellence. Tnnovative aquaculture procedures contemplated to improve European seafood production within the Ecosystem-base ap proach include Tntegrated Multitrophic Aquaculture- TMTA, Marine Spatial Planning, Environmental services, genetics and Alternative Tngredients & Feeds. The enhancement the scientific and technolo gical exchange (know-how) of the ULPGC through the diffusion of the knowledge at the University level and at the regional and European level are also considered to increase public awareness on sus tainable issues related to the European aquaculture sector. This exchange will be partly performed

through the conduction of various events such as:
- Annual Summer Course on "Ecosystems-based Approach for the Sustainable Development of Aquaculture" to train and exchange information among ERA members (including ORs and Overseas Countries and Territories - OCTs) on current issues.
- International Workshop as discussion forum for the application of an Ecosystem-based approach
- International Conference on "Challenges in the Environmental Management of Coastal and Marine Areas".
- International Conference on "Marine Spatial Planning, Sustainable Growth and Biodiversity Con servation in Tsland Systems"
Another networking activity of EcoAqua consist in the set up of the Sustainable Aquaculture Tech nological Platform among concerned stakeholders in ORs and OCTs as strategic tools for economic development of coastal areas. The research activities of the EcoAqua Research team will contribute to After the 5 years implementation of the EcoAqua Project, the ULPGC will push up the boundaries of its extant research lines, have an enhanced research capacities on aquaculture and its environment al interactions, through its University Research Tnstitute in Sustainable Aquaculture and Marine Eco systems (TU-ECOAQUA with a lifespan beyond the Ecoaqua Project) and enlarged Tnternational Net works. At the same time, the research staff of the ULPGC will play an active role in the development of the European Blue Economy, contributing to Outermost Regional Sustainable Developments.

Project Context and Objectives:
Seafood production is the only food production sector where wild harvest & farming complement each other! At a global level, aquaculture is increasing while fisheries are at best stable. It is predicted that by 2020, total seafood (aquatic food) production volume will be above that of beef, pork or poultry, mainly due to the growth in the
Aquaculture sector.
One of the pillars of the EU's Blue Growth Strategy is the Aquaculture Production Sector. The demand of the EU seafood market is currently supplied for 25% from EU fisheries, 65% from imports and only 10% from EU aquaculture. Current EU consumption produced internally through aquaculture would help create between 3,000 and 4,000 full-time jobs. These figures confirm that the aquaculture sector has the potential to boost growth and jobs in the EU.
When it comes to EU overseas’ outermost regions (ORs) or territories and countries (OTCs), they cover an area of 4.4 million km., equivalent in size to that of the
continental Europe, having a combined Exclusive Economic Zone of over 15 million km., the largest in the world. Of the different ORs, the Canary Islands possess recognized research expertise as well as aquaculture production.
Thus, the “EcoAqua” represents a substantial involvement from the EU for aquaculture development associated to the management of marine coastal areas within the EU’s ORs and OTCs.
The EcoAqua project, framed in the EU ERA-Chair Program, aims at improving the performance of the Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) in competitive research fields of Sustainable Aquaculture and participate to an Ecosystem-based approach for the management of the marine environment. More specifically it will contribute to:
• Set up of innovative research programs providing a favourable environment for novel ideas.
• Promote the visibility of the ULPGC at the regional, national and international level.
• Facilitate collaborative research by pooling of resources, such as research expertise, ideas, funds and research materials.
• Increased dissemination of its research potential and innovation.
• Expansion of its ties with the industrial sector and help focus mid- to long-term research, in terms of societal benefits and its economic impact.

Ecoaqua Main Objective is to integrate outstanding researchers in the ULPGC to foster research excellence in Sustainable Aquaculture under an Ecosystem Approach strengthening the S&T research potential and capacities of ULPGC, underpinning its better integration into the ERA.

The specific Objectives of the EcoAqua project include:
• Consolidate existing research potential by means of the integration of an outstanding researcher and its team members.
• Develop the next generation of sustainable aquaculture research in European marine waters
• Initiate innovative approaches for sustainable aquaculture development.
• Develop sustainable aquaculture science and technology
• Capacity building inside the ERA and towards the Outermost Regions (ORs).
• Disseminate & extend knowledge to diverse Economic and Social Sectors.
• Increase public awareness of Aquaculture benefits under an Ecosystem Approach.

Ecoaqua Main Outputs include: The recruitment of experienced scientific personnel, the improvement of the Scientific and Technological Equipment of the existing marine facilities, the development of new marine research themes, new methodological approaches and new technical developments to reach research excellence. Innovative aquaculture procedures contemplated to improve European seafood production within the Ecosystem-base approach including Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture- IMTA, Marine Spatial Planning, Environmental services, genetics and Alternative Ingredients & Feeds. The enhancement the scientific and technological exchange of the ULPGC through the diffusion of the knowledge are also considered to increase public awareness on sustainable issues related to the European aquaculture sector. This exchange is to be performed through the conduction of various events targeting the scientific community as well as policy makers and civil society.
Another networking activity of EcoAqua consist in the set up of the Sustainable Aquaculture Technological Platform among concerned stakeholders in ORs and OCTs as strategic tools for economic development of coastal areas. After the 5 years implementation of the EcoAqua Project, the ULPGC is expecting to push up the boundaries of its extant research lines, have an enhanced research capacities on aquaculture and its environmental interactions, through its University Research Institute in Sustainable Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (IU-ECOAQUA with a lifespan beyond the Ecoaqua Project) and enlarged International Networks. At the same time, the EcoAqua project will allow the research staff of the ULPGC to play an active role in the development of the European Blue Economy, contributing to Outermost Regional Sustainable Developments.




Project Results:
The development of new marine research, new methodological approaches and new technical advances are essential phases to enhance the scientific and technological knowledge of the University research entities in order to reach research excellence. In order to pursue this objective, a specific work package (4.5) was designed to develop actions towards generation of knowledge and training development and more specifically facilitate the incorporation of the ERA Chair together with his team of scientists. The main objectives of the task is to increase the capacity of the research team in order to improve and establish strategies for the development of a sustainable aquaculture and marine ecosystem conservation, increase collaborations with other European entities and facilitate a deeper integration of the ULPGC within the European research scene. The scientific actions are developed to consolidate the research groups in order to reach excellence and international competitiveness in thematic areas relevant to Sustainable Aquaculture Development, as well as S&T management recognized as S3 strategic areas.

The EcoAqua research team is participating in various tasks, from different WPs, required for the successful development of the project, besides being associated to specific and independent research lines and activities focusing on different subjects necessary for the development of sustainable aquaculture and marine ecosystem conservation.

The focus of the research lines are:

1. Marine/Maritime spatial planning (MSP), policy applied to marine & coastal areas, marine environmental management and related support of the data infrastructures.
2. Applied genetics in aquaculture to improve production, health and animal welfare
3. Techniques and procedures for quantification of environmental and ecological services and improved environmental management
4. Improvement of animal performance through nutritional advances during grow-out period
5. Mitigation of potential aquaculture environmental influence by means of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture
6. Control of the reproductive cycle of fish species of economic importance

The development of these research activities was made possible through the EcoAqua project by providing access to appropriate technology S&T infrastructures to the scientists of the team. The development of the research activities is closely integrated with collaborative actions with research projects undertaken by the ULPGC as part of the IU-ECOAQUA.

These research tasks allow the researchers to produce peer-review papers published in leading scientific journals and participate to international Workshops, Conferences and Symposia. Moreover, new research projects mainly linked to H2020 calls are starting and the EcoAqua Research Team are partner or leading coordinator inside those projects.

1. Marine/Maritime spatial planning (MSP), policy applied to marine & coastal areas, marine environmental management and related support of the data infrastructures.
• Development of the EcoAqua data infrastructures - establishment EcoAqua research in the field MSP

Efficient (Spatial) Data infrastructures and competent data management are extremely important in the process of the MSP. EcoAqua Institute is an important producer of the scientific marine/maritime data in the Macaronesia region. Consequently was established EcoAqua spatial data infrastructure to manage data delivered in the previous and future projects. In order to develop the SDI and connect to European INSPIRE data infrastructure EcoAqua uses exclusively open source/free of charge software.
The main motivation behind becoming a part of the distributed European SDI is to increase the visibility of EcoAqua activities and share information, and moreover, to properly understand INSPIRE data management methods, that can be shared with our project partners and applied in future international developments. The goal behind the activities is to understand and properly adopt the whole process from metadata development, data harmonization and finally providing the network services for spatial data discovery, view and download.
For the use case, citizen science database developed by the project Poseidon (2012-2014) was selected, in which users are entitled to report the sighting of marine species, providing a photo, location and specie common name. The database is harmonized with Species Distribution INSPIRE data model and common specie names are mapped using the standard EU-Nomen code list provided by Pan European Species Directories Infrastructure.
During the process number of issues were identified and are planned to be reported as solutions to be applied during the following INSPIRE conference.
More details on EcoAqua data infrastructure are provided in the EcoAqua report entitled “Deliverable 3.3- Report on standardization databases”.

The “PLASMAR” Project is developed within Eco Aqua with the support of the European Union, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Operational Programme of Territorial Cooperation Madeira-Azores-Canary Islands (POMAC 2014-2020). The objectives of PLASMAR are to define and propose robust scientific methodologies in support of Maritime Spatial Planning and Blue growth taking into consideration the biogeographic characteristics of the Macaronesian Region and searching for a balance between the diverse maritime sectors and the conservation of the natural marine heritage. The projects’ activities will focus on the coastal and marine waters of the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands, finalizing activities by the end of 2019.

More info: www.plasmar.eu

The MarSP project is developed within EcoAqua with the support of EASME/EMFF. MarSP, Macaronesian Maritime Spatial Planning, intends to reinforce maritime spatial planning in Macaronesian archipelagos (Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands), by assisting the competent authorities of Portugal (Azores and Madeira) and Spain (Canary Islands) on promoting the development of operative mechanisms of maritime spatial planning until 2021.
Partners: Fundo Regional para a Ciência e Tecnologia (Regional Fund for Science and Technology), Direção Regional dos Assuntos do Mar, Secretaria Regional do Mar Ciência e Tecnologia, Governo Regional dos Açores (Regional Directorate for the Maritime Affairs), Secretaria Regional do Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais, Governo Regional da Madeira - Direção Regional do Ordenamento do Território e Ambiente, Direção Geral de Recursos Naturais, Segurança e Serviços Marítimos, Direção Geral de Política do Mar, Instituto Espanõl De Oceanografia, University of Seville, Universidad de Cádiz, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (IU-ECOAQUA).

More info: http://marsp.eu/

2. Applied genetics in aquaculture to improve production, health and animal welfare
Objective: Development of genetic improvement programs in marine species (fish, crustacean and mollusk) for economical interesting traits like growth, performance, fish and meat quality (morphology), by implementing of different tools (molecular and quantitative genetics, engineering and management).

For genetic improvement of various aspects (growth, morphology, meat quality), some experiments and investigation have been performed as following,

- The breeders in genetic program were selected by consanguinity and morphological traits.
- Potentially relevant genes were investigated to be identified by the genetic determination of deformities, linked to QTL.
- Offspring from selected breeders were produced to study various aspects of growth and morphology (deformity)
- Fish were tagged with Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) to identify and analyze the parental assignment.
- Offspring were transferred to aquaculture companies to investigate links between genetic and environmental effects.
- Specific software was used to obtain the whole information of breeders’ sex, origin, carcass and quality traits, genotype and phenotype.
- Experiments design of the project
- Parental assignment of whiteleg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) was analysed to develop a genetic improvement program to increase production

a) Development of activity A1 of “PROGENSA-III”, a national project.
• During this time period, the design and execution of samplings in link with a private company (AQUANARIA), for evaluation of descendants and breeders of PROGENSA F3, as follows:
o Tagging, and measuring 5,500 breeders for growth traits (weight, length and deformities), in tanks.
o Slaughtering 1,500 descendants: Measuring growth, carcass, meat quality and fish quality, including morphological evaluation by using IMAFISH-ML, a tool developed earlier by the ULPGC research group
o Setting up and optimizing the methodology for genotyping characterization of gilthead seabream

b) Development of activity A2 of PROGENSA-III national project.
• During this time period, the design and executed this activity, consisted in:
o Extracting DNA of 2,250 samples supplied from IATS-CSIC by using the BIOSPRINT96 robot.
o Estimating DNA concentration of 2,250 samples compromised in A2 by using the NANODROP device.
o Normalizing DNA concentration of 2,250 samples compromised in A2 by using EVO TECAN robot.
o Preparing PCR reactions of 2,250 samples compromised in A2, by using EVO TECAN robot.

c) Development of activity Analysis of skeletal deformities in gilthead sea bream in PerformFISH European project
• During this time period, the designing and programming this activity, included:
o Coordinating the work of student
o Participating in crosses design.
o Supervising the training of student in histology techniques.
o Simulating the weight of larvae according their ages, for gene expression analysis.
o Participating in all meetings carried out between ULPGC partners implied in this task.

PerformFISH European project
The overarching objective of PerformFISH is to increase the competitiveness of the Mediterranean aquaculture sector by tackling biological, technical and operational weaknesses that underlie the stagnation of marine fish production in the last decade, while addressing social and environmental responsibility and contributing to “Blue Growth”
Within the PerformFISH project the activities focused on the development of selective breeding tools taking into account important phenotypic traits such as feed efficiency, disease resistance, deformities and analyzing skeletal deformities in gilthead sea bream.

More info: PerformFISH (Consumer Driven Production: Integrating Innovative Approaches for Competitive and Sustainable Performance across the Mediterranean Aquaculture Value Chain) http://performfish.eu/

- International Project MaCMICOd.1 (Implementación de un Programa de Mejora Genética Adaptado al Sistema de Producción de Camarón o Langostino blanco (Litopenaeus vannamei) de la Empresa Biogemar S.A.)_Ecuador (FCPCT-ULPGC)
The activities focused on the development of a molecular biology tool to allow the assignment of kinship between descendant animals and their broodstock under the growing conditions of the company BIOGEMAR SA, through the use of specific microsatellite markers of shrimp or white shrimp

3. Techniques and procedures for quantification of environmental and ecological services and improved environmental management.
Objective: Foster High Qualified Research in deep sensitive habitats in the Macaronesia, but also to increase local research team expertise in Deep Diving and Acoustic Techniques for marine seabed characterization.

The EcoAqua improvements of research infrastructures in terms of the “mixed gases unit for Deep-water SCUBA to complement the Standard SCUBA diving equipment Unit” and the “current-meter”, as well as, the various technical and dive trainings developed under the project, allowed to develop research activities needed to gather new key information about subtidal epibenthic communities and deep sensitive (potentially affected by anthropogenic activities) habitats in the Macaronesia. In general, the scientific knowledge related to these habitats is very poor, overall in topics such as the ecosystem services valorisation (nursery areas, carbon burial, biodiversity, eco-tourism activities...) or their potential interactions with aquaculture activities (Blue economy).
This research line focuses on the development of research activities needed to gather new key information about subtidal epibenthic communities and deep sensitive (potentially affected by anthropogenic activities) habitats in the Macaronesia. In general, the scientific knowledge related to these habitats is very poor, overall in topics such as the ecosystem services valorisation (nursery areas, carbon burial, biodiversity, eco-tourism activities...) or their potential interactions with aquaculture activities (Blue economy).
Initially, the research activities are focusing on the extensive corallinaceus red algae (rhodoliths) sea beds in Canary Islands in the Gando peninsula (Gran Canaria island). This sensitive habitat, poorly studied in sub-tropical latitudes, is a non-renewable resource (growth 1-2mm per year) with commercial and conservation interest as nursery area for invertebrates and fish assemblages but overall as a high potential source for global carbon burial. According to this topic and through ECOAQUA infrastructures several experiments are being performed with the collaboration of two Master of Science projects.

4. Control of the reproductive cycle of fish species of economic importance
Maintenance of spawning stocks of fast-growing species

Broodstocks of three fast-growing species have been maintained: meagre (Argyrosomus regius), longfin yellowtail (Seriola rivoliana) and greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili). In the case of greater amberjack the number of broodstocks has been increased with the incorporation of new specimens captured in the wild.

A batch of breeders of another fast-growing species already present in the Canary Islands, the white trevally (Pseudocaranx dentex), has begun to be established.

Annual biometric sampling of broodstock was done, performing the following measures: weight, total length and fork length. With the new weight, the daily broodstock food rations were adjusted.

The possible risk agents and their effect on the broods have been determined. For this, a total of 107 breeding individuals of the Parque Científico Tecnológico Marino (PCTM) of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) have been sampled. Blood samples (blood extraction) were taken in situ and sent by courier to the laboratory of the Instituto de Acuicultura de la Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (IA-USC), for processing (detection of viruses, bacteria and parasites). In the IA-USC, PCR/qPCR detection and isolation in cell culture was applied from previously precipitated leukocytes from the processed broods. Only the VNNV virus has been detected in 13 of them, which have been sacrificed. The ULPGC processed the tissues of slaughtered individuals and sent them to the IA-USC for the verification of their carrier status.
Studies about reproduction in captivity

• Different dietary levels of n-3 HUFA in amberjack broodstock diets are being assessed. The quality of the spawns obtained by injection of GnRHa is being compared for the groups of broodstock fed with different levels of n-3 HUFA.

• Studies about spawning patterns are being performed to report, spawn days, number of eggs and their quality (% of fertilization, feasibility, hatching and larvae with open mouth) of a group of wild specimens of Seriola dumerili held in captivity. The data of spontaneous spawns was collected to compare it with that of previous years, with the aim of determining the reproductive behaviour of this species in captivity.
Spawning in captivity

• In order to obtain viable eggs of meagre (Argyrosomus regius) for various larval rearing and fattening experiments, 20 mature meagre specimens bred in captivity were stocked in two tanks 10m3 with 5 ♀ and 5 ♂ in each. The spawns were obtained after induction with hormonal injections of GnRHa (Des-gly10, [D-Ala6]-LH-RH; Sigma-Aldrich Co. St. Louis, Missouri, USA) at a dose of 15μg/kg both for ♀ and ♂. A total of 5 inductions were performed.

• The state of maturity of yellowtail longfin broodstock (Seriola rivoliana) has been determined. Females underwent ovarian biopsy with a catheter that was introduced by the genital pore, the maturity of the males was determined by abdominal massage or stripping technique. Since there were females with oocytes of diameter greater than 500μ and fluent males, they were induced by injection of GnRHa, in order to obtain viable eggs to be used in various larval earing experiments.

5. Improvement of animal performance through nutritional advances during grow-out period
Determining the vitamin E requirement of meagre juveniles.
Seven experimental isonitrogenous (50%) and isolipidic (16%) diets with different levels of α-tocopherol acetate (16, 100, 190, 285, 430, 880 and 1300 mg kg-1) were tested during 72 days to evaluate growth performance, tissue composition, fillet oxidation and liver histology in meagre juveniles, Argyrosomus regius. Growth performance, feed conversion ratio (FCR) and tissue composition were similar among treatments (P > 0.05). In the liver, no major differences were recorded in lipid and fatty acid composition but higher lipid vacuolization were observed in diets E100, E190 and E880. Muscle fatty acid profiles showed an increment of the highly unsaturated fatty acid (HUFA) and a decrease of the saturated fatty acid with the increase of dietary vitamin E, which was accompanied with a reduction of the muscle TBARS responses. Therefore, it is suggested that diets for this species should be supplemented with 451 mg kg-1 of DL-α-tocopherol acetate (496 UI of vitamin E), as determine by broken-line regression analysis of muscle TBARS, to provide good overall growth performance and improved fish quality and storage stability. Moreover, results suggest that vitamin E deficiency or excess may deteriorate fish health.
Whole body composition, fatty acid profile and statistical analysis were performed.

Study the interaction among different antioxidants (vitamin E, vitamin C and astaxanthin) and its effect on growth, body composition and fish antioxidant defenses.

Six isonitrogenous and isolipidic diets were formulated to contain different levels of vitamin E, C and astaxanthin and be fed to meagre juveniles during 163 days. The aim of this work was to study the impact of different antioxidants levels and assess how they interact among them during the ongrowing phase of A. regius.
a. The growth trial has been completed and whole body composition, growth performance, glutathione and superoxide dismutase activity were analyzed in the liver.
b. To complete the set of analysis liver RNA extraction are being started to perform gene expression of selected genes (GSH, SOD, CAT and HO-1) and liver tbars and fatty acid profile.

Trial for the amberjack cage culture
Collaboration in a trial for the amberjack cage culture, taking care of the grow-out samplings and data treatment. Once fish stocked in the cages, a protocol for the parameters to be daily controlled, and a scheme for the subsequent sampling along the year were accorded between the company and the GIA group (3-4 month sampling was agreed). The feeding method, feed company; feed type; feed diameter according to fish weight; feeding time / h /days a week, all of them are being shown in the correspondent daily control tables by the company. Same for the husbandry practices: temperature, stocking density, net changes, medicals or so. To better define the state of the sea during working–feeding the amberjack, a scale was used and recorded according to specific numbers: sea overview 1 calm; 2 wind, 3 heavy, 4 heavy + wind, 5 storm; water current 1 no current, 2 some current, 3 heavy current. The whole results for the amberjack growth in cages together with their respective biometric and feed efficiency are being now discussed in relation with the natural temperatures recorded, and also with those previously obtained for the growth of the fish in tanks. Health status samples continue under analysis and will be also discussed with the whole obtained results to better achieve the objectives of the trial.

Systemic granulomatosis, linked to nutritional imbalance in cultured meagre (Argyrosomus regius)
Collaboration in a trial to better understand the systemic granulomatosis, which is an important and growing disease with a high morbidity that could be caused by a nutritional imbalance in cultured meagre (Argyrosomus regius). To prevent systemic granulomatosis was studied the role of antioxidant vitamins, together with the addition or no of Astaxanthin. Meagre juvenile (79.3±0.54g) were fed during 90 days with six diets containing different levels of vitamin E, C and with or without addition of vitamin K and astaxanthin as follows: Diet 0 (no addition of vitamin E, C and K, ASTAX), K (35 mg·kg-1 K), KA (35 mg·kg-1 K; ASTAX), EC (300 mg·kg-1 E, 100 mg·kg-1 C), ECA (300 mg·kg-1 E, 100 mg·kg-1 C, Astax), KEC (35 mg·kg-1 K, 300 mg·kg-1 E, 100 mg·kg-1 C), KECA (35 mg·kg-1 K, 300 mg·kg-1 E, 100 mg·kg-1 C, Astax), EECC (700 mg·kg-1 E, 600 mg·kg-1 C), EECCA (700 mg·kg-1 E, 600 mg·kg-1 C, astax) , KEECC (35 mg·kg-1 K, 700 mg·kg-1 E, 600 mg·kg-1 C), KEECC (35 mg·kg-1 K, 700 mg·kg-1 E, 600 mg·kg-1 C, astax). The dietary addition of vitamins E and C (Diet 0EC) significantly increased meagre growth in terms of final weight and length. In liver high addition of vitamin E, C and K significantly increased de gene expression of catalase. In heart low addition in diet of vitamin E and C increased expression of superóxido dismutase and glutathione peroxidase. Fish fed with highest level of vitamin E and C presented lower percentage of granulomas. There was not found relationship between astaxanthin additions and the growth or granulomatosis in the meagre at the end of the trial.

Study the effect of diet on growth and health status meagre (Argyrosomus regius)

To continue with the understanding of the diets effect on the meagre growth and health status, a complete trial during the ongrowing of meagre was done. The meagre (Argyrosomus regius) - as fast-growing species - is a promising candidate for the diversification of the Mediterranean aquaculture industry. Previous studies tried to figure out the optimum protein and fat contents for its feeds, but there is still a lack of precise knowledge on the requirement of n-3 essential long chained polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) for juveniles of this species. Six isolipidic, isoproteic, semi-purified diets with rising levels of n-3 PUFA (0.0%, 0.3%, 0.6%, 0.9%, 1.2% and 1.5% dw) were fed three times daily to juvenile mea- gre of 35.6±0.1 g for 84 days using triplicate groups. There were no significant differences be- tween the treatments with 0.9% to 1.5% n-3 PUFA in terms of final body weight, but the fish fed 0.6% n-3 PUFA and lower showed differences indeed. The group fed the 0.0% n3-PUFA diets was significantly lowest in growth parameters such as FCR, SGR, TGC as well as final bodyweight. Prevalence and mean abundance of granulomas examined in the liver strength- ened the discrepancy between the 0.6% and the 0.9% n-3 PUFA treatments, since prevalence and abundance in the groups with less than 0.9% n-3 PUFA were significantly higher com- pared to the other treatments. Hence, the results showed that 0.6% dietary n-3 PUFA is not enough to cover the essential fatty acid requirement of juvenile meagre, whereas a dietary n-3 PUFA content of more than 0.9% did not result in an improvement of growth parameters and health status. The results of the broken line regression model suggest a requirement of juvenile meagre for n-3 PUFA of around 0.7% of dw. Present results are being published shortly.
Astaxanthin physiology in salmonids: Beyond colour

The resource trade-off hypothesis postulates that certain animal nutrients are limiting resources and their allocation depends principally on the physiological stage or environmental conditions. Carotenoids are among limiting resources in fish, allocated principally to pigmentation or to the antioxidant machinery. This project proposal intends to verify if astaxanthin, a key carotenoid for rainbow trout pigmentation, is mobilized from skin and muscle to other tissues in face of a stressful condition such as hyperoxia. Results of this proposal will help to elucidate more about astaxanthin trade-off. As well, as colors in integuments are dynamic, changing rapidly in response to short-term changes, this information could be of important use for salmonid industry regarding skin and muscle color changes.

6. Mitigation of potential aquaculture environmental influence by means of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture
Objective: Implement an Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture production (IMTA), as an efficient method for the purification of effluents and as a production method allowing to obtain algal biomass of high protein content. This algal biomass can either be used directly as feeding source, or be included in diets as ingredient to substitute fishmeal.

The development of such production methods are of great interest as they meet the requirements of the EU in its commitment to develop a European Sustainable aquaculture through the minimization of aquaculture impacts and the development of vegetable based diets. More specifically they contribute to:

• Mitigate the potential environmental impacts of aquaculture by effluent biofiltration
• Produce marine bio - products ( algae )
• Obtain alternative marine protein sources of vegetal origin
• Ensure sustainable algal resources in the natural environment.
• Diversy marine aquaculture through the production of new species
• Provide answers to some societal challenges that include food safety and quality through the development of productive and sustainable primary production and the preservation of natural resources
•Generate knowledge on sustainable aquaculture production techniques of interest for the future technological development of the sector.

• Production of algal biomass in Integrated Multi - trophic IMTA systems
The improvements of research infrastructures for mass production of macroalgae allowed the installation of automated systems to improve harvesting activities associated to feed production within the experimental facilities. The automation allowed programming of harvesting time and duration tailored to the different needs according to growth stages and rearing densities. They contributed to the optimization of the algal productivity.
Various experiments were performed to grow the macroalgae Gracilaria cornea and Ulva rigida at different densities in the Integrated multi-trophic units of the University of Las Palmas in order to improve their productivity.
In order to maximise the production efficiency of the GIA IMTA system, the studies evaluated the effect of two different cultivation parameters, algal stocking density and water flow rate, on the growth rates and biochemical compositions of U.rigida and H.cornea. Hence, two different algal stocking densities and wastewater flow rates were tested and environmental conditions were monitored throughout the experimental period (irradiance, temperature, nutrient availability). Growth rate and algae proximal composition (ash, protein, lipid and carbohydrate contents) were evaluated, under the different rearing conditions. In order to attest the interest of IMTA for seaweed production in Canary Islands, these experiments where conducted in both fresh seawater and nutrient-rich GIA wastewaters. The efficiency of the integrated production system was thus analyzed by comparison between the two sets of experiments. This took place in the context of the installation of new biofiltration ponds in the facilities with the need of setting rearing parameters for U.rigida and H.cornea production.


• Determine the nutritional properties of seaweeds
IMTA produced macroalgae have been regularly analysed for nutrient composition according to the following protocol:

• Protein content is determined by the Kjedahl method according to AOAC standard analyses.
• Total lipids are extracted with chloroform–methanol (2:1) and fatty acids in the lipid extracts are transesterified to methyl esters (FAMEs) with 1% sulphuric acid: methanol complex. Fatty acids are then analysed in a Thermo Finnigan- GC Focus gas chromatograph equipped with a flame ionization detector (260ºC) and separated with capillary column (Supercowax 28mx0.32mmx0.25i.d.) using helium as the carrier gas.
• The dry matter is determined by drying samples at 110ºC until reaching constant weight.
• The ash content is determined by incinerating samples at 600°C for 24h.

• Formulate and process novel vegetal-based compound diets
Novel, vegetable-based, diets were formulated to contain 40% protein 50% of which was supplied by the experimental seaweeds meals. The remaining protein and energy contents were supplied by soybean meal, corn gluten meal, spirulina and starch. Vitamin and mineral mixtures were supplemented. Similarly the amino acids composition of the diet were also adjusted and all diets were supplemented with L-methionine, lysine and arginine. Sodium alginate was used as a binder. Diets were then processed through an extruding machine to obtain 2mm thick strips cut into approximately 1x1cm grains, dried at 38°C for 60h and stored at 4°C until use.

• Testing of novel vegetal-based compound diets for abalone production
The studies addressed the production of fishmeal-free formulated diets, adapted to local abalone nutritional requirements that could provide the potential industry with a readily available and more stable nutritional feed, while validating the environmental and social sustainability of the farming operations.
For that purpose, experiments were performed to evaluate the effect of the formulated diets on the growth performance and body composition of H. tuberculata coccinea.
Abalones (H. tuberculata coccinea) were produced within the experimental hatchery production unit of the Grupo de Investigación en Acuicultura (GIA). A total of 540 juvenile organisms (30/replicate) with an average shell length and weight of 20.1±0.5mm and 1.1±0.1g respectively, were selected for the feeding trial and assigned to each experimental unit. Animals were distributed in triplicates in a flow-through system constantly supplied with fresh seawater and constant aeration. Water temperature ranged between 20.6 to 24°C. Abalones were subjected to a natural photoperiod. Mortality was recorded on a weekly basis. During the experiments comparing six experimental feed the following indices were monitored:

Shell growth rate (μm day-1), Weight gain, WG (%), Specific growth rate, SGR (% day-1), Feed intake, Feed conversion ratio (FCR) and Protein efficiency ratio (PER)
Diets and abalone (visceral mass and foot muscle) were analysed for nutrient composition at the end of the experiments.





Potential Impact:
The potential impacts from EcoAqua addressed scientific, economic environmental and social aspects. The EcoAqua project activities addresses the expected impacts listed in the work programme contributing to:
• Development of research capacity and research excellence through maintaining infrastructures capacity of the marine center and consolidating the work force, integrating specialised research scientists.
• Increased participation of the institution in Horizon 2020 and other important European programmes through successful application to European calls. Through the lifespan of the EcoAqua project the research team has achieved participation to the following projects:
PROGENSA-INNOTECSS:
New methodologies for genetic improvement in collaboration with the productive sector and in a coordinated way
To reinforce the innovation and competitiveness of the companies and hence to help the consolidation of the Spanish productive sector

DIETABS:
Development of a sustainable model for growing abalone in Europe, through the development of Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture production (IMTA),
Development of exclusively vegetable based aquafeeds, that meet the nutritional requirements of the European abalone.

PROGENSA-III (MEJORA DE LA COMPETITIVIDAD DEL SECTOR DE LA DORADA A TRAVÉS DE LA SELECCIÓN GENÉTICA)
Objective: To improve the production of gilthead sea bream in Spain for characteristics of growth, morphology, yield and resistance to diseases, considering the different production systems in the national territory, estimation of genotype-environment interaction under the conditions of the industrial production system.

MORFOGEN (Genomic and bioinformatic study of the factors that regulate morphology and its alterations in Gilthead seabream and Senegalese sole)
Objective: The main objective of this project is the identification of the genetic and molecular basis that control and determine the morphology and its alterations in sole and seabream to be incorporated in genetic breeding programs.

MELUMA (Programa de mejora genética en lubina, Dicentrarchus labrax)
Objective: The study with SNP and microsatellites to determine the sex of sea bass and then it can be applied to design and run the breeding program for the growth as more specified breeding program.

MaCMICOd.1 (Implementación de un Programa de Mejora Genética Adaptado al Sistema de Producción de Camarón o Langostino blanco (Litopenaeus vannamei) de la Empresa Biogemar S.A.)_Ecuador
Objective: The main objective of this phase has been to develop a tool of molecular biology that allows the assignment of kinship between descendant animals and their broodstock under the growing conditions of the company BIOGEMAR SA, through the use of specific microsatellite markers of shrimp or white shrimp

PMG breeding programme (Propuesta de Mejora Genética para el Langostino blanco en FORTALEZA, Litopenaeus vannamei)
Objective: The main objective of this phase is to conclude the proposal, and later to implement the breeding program in shrimp for the best growth and survival, weighted 30% in growth and 70% with survival (robustness against the environmental factors under estuary culturing).

Canary Islands Marine deep habitats: Structure and biodiversity of rhodolith seabeds supported by The Canary Islands Campus of International Excellence – CEI -20-20162505-07).
Objective: To generate new knowledge about the structure and biodiversity of Canary Islands rhodolith sea-beds, combining different technologies such as side scan sonar devices and deep dive techniques.

Bio-Principe Scientific Expedition:
Objective: To characterize the marine habitats (including fauna & flora) of Principe island (Republic of Sao Tome and Principe, Gulf of Guinee), focusing on rhodolith seabeds due to their potential role as a biodiversity hotspot and global carbon storage sites. In addition, some analyses were also performed to set up protocol about microplastics survey.The data obtained can be employed in future conservation actions such as the definition of potential Marine Protected Areas.

INNOMOL: (Innovación y sostenibilidad en el cultivo de moluscos: del criadero al medio exterior)
Objective: The INNOMOL project aims at increasing the sustainable production of molluscs of interest, through the transfer of knowledge to the productive sector during its development by providing protocols and fostering the development of useful and practical production procedures.

Evaluation of carbon sequestration in biogenic habitats (SECBIO)
supported by The Canary Islands Campus of International Excellence – CEI -2017-24).
Objective: To understand how the spatio-temporal configuration of marine habitats considered of high priority for conservation in the Canarian Archipelago (rhodolith sea beds) influence the carbon sequestration as high priority Ecosystem Service for Conservation.

Micro-Smart ENvironmental Sensing CAPsule (μSENSCAP) supported by The Canary Islands Campus of International Excellence – CEI -2007-15).
Objective: To design, built and experimentally validate device to measure environmental parameters related to quality of Marine Ecosystems.

AQUAEXCEL2020:
TNA Astaxanthin physiology in fish: beyond colour .
Objective: Although much in known about the role of carotenoids on fish pigmentation and its possible impact on health, there are some knowledge gaps regarding key aspects of carotenoid deposition and how colour and health are related.
To assess dietary Ax impact on fish health and welfare and the possible interactions with other antioxidants.

Diversify
Potential of new/emerging candidate fish species for the expansion of the European aquaculture industry: Meagre nutritional requirements. Fatty acid requirement study.

Establishment of a European Red list of Habitats Technical Contract EU and IUCN - Naturebureau (2013-2016).
Evaluation of Threatened Habitats in the Macaronesian archipelagos and review of North Atlantic and Mediterranean region fact-sheets.

JRC Marine Pilot project
Obtain a common understanding of the requirements of Marine Strategy Framewrok Directive (MSFD) & INSPIRE Directive.
Facilitate the implementation of MSFD requirements applying INSPIRE principles on data management.
Explore links with other international marine data initiatives (EMODnet).

EURASTIP: Promoting Multi Stakeholder Contributions to International Cooperation on Sustainable Solutions for Aquaculture Development in South East Asia.
To prepare and launch an international multi stakeholder platform; the “European Asian Technology and Innovation Platform”,
To provide mechanisms to create and reinforce international cooperation on sustainable aquaculture between Europe and South East Asia.
To integrate stakeholders from Europe and South East Asia in a platform that will focus on mutual benefits for both regions.
To reinforce professional skills and competences in industry and research.

PLASMAR (INTERREG MAC)
Bases para la PLAnificación Sostenible de áreas MARinas en la Macaronesia
Development of the methodologies and establishment of the basis for Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) to facilitate the implementation of the MSP Directive 2014/89/EU applying robust scientific methodologies for the development of the maritime activities in balance with the marine environment.

Erasmus Mundus Master Course on Maritime Spatial Planning
Role of IU ECOAQUA: Case studies in aquaculture zoning.
Organizational aspects of EMMC-MSP mentoring and training M.S. students in MSP processes.

PerformFISH (Consumer Driven Production: Integrating Innovative Approaches for Competitive and Sustainable Performance across the Mediterranean Aquaculture Value Chain)
Objective: The overarching objective of PerformFISH is to increase the competitiveness of the Mediterranean aquaculture sector by tackling biological, technical and operational weaknesses that underlie the stagnation of marine fish production in the last decade, while addressing social and environmental responsibility and contributing to “Blue Growth”

MBIs (Marine BLUe Infrastructures: Connecting Ecosystem Services (Connecting BLU-ES) – Biodiversa)
The project focuses on the relationship between MBIs and ESs, in particular on the evaluation of global additional connectivity associated with targeted MBIs and their induced Ess
Actions: Connectivity role assessment
The evaluation of connectivity in the targeted MBIs is performed through the individual tagging (demographic connectivity), using telemetry techniques (e.g. acoustic devices), and population genetics (trans-generational connectivity), through molecular markers (e.g. microsatellites). In addition spatially explicit modeling linked to individual tagging in targeted fish is developed to forecast connectivity role due to MBIs deployment.

EASME/EMFF/2016/1.2.1.6 Marine Spatial Planning
Title: Macaronesian Maritime Spatial Planning
Summary: This proposal intends to reinforce maritime spatial planning in Macaronesian archipelagos (Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands), by assisting the competent authorities of Portugal (Azores and Madeira) and Spain (Canary Islands) on promoting the development of operative mechanisms of maritime spatial planning until 2021.

• Compliance with the ERA priorities, including open recruitment, gender balance, peer review, and doctoral training through the doctorate program in Sustainable Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems. More information about doctoral training on the following site: https://escueladoctorado.ulpgc.es/programasDoctorado/acuicultura/presentacion.

- Stronger interaction with national or regional authorities designing and implementingresearch and innovation strategies for smart specialisation such as the contribution to the creation of the BIOASIS platform with the Regional bodies for the development of blue biotechnology and aquaculture. https://www.spegc.org/bioasis/

- Research activities to contribute to regional/national development plans on research infrastructure and innovation focusing on the following research lines:
1. Marine/Maritime spatial planning (MSP), policy applied to marine & coastal areas, marine environmental management and related support of the data infrastructures.
2. Applied genetics in aquaculture to improve production, health and animal welfare
3. Techniques and procedures for quantification of environmental and ecological services and improved environmental management
4. Improvement of animal performance through nutritional advances during grow-out period
5. Mitigation of potential aquaculture environmental influence by means of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture
6. Control of the reproductive cycle of fish species of economic importance
The details of the activities performed within each of the research lines are further detailed in the S&T section

- The research capacity for an effective contribution to regional economic and social development through an improved dissemination of information regarding aquaculture to enable a better social understanding of the activity.
In order to ensure effective communication activities, a sound set of working dissemination tools and materials were established within the first months of the beginning of the project. Accordingly, a project logo and a web platform were developed in the first 6 months to form the backbone of both project communication and public visibility.
In addition various dissemination materials, such as brochures, publications, roll ups, newsletters, press articles and posters were produced for raising awareness about the projects advances. Templates, milestone and deliverable reports, Powerpoint presentations, were made readily available to the consortium to facilitate dissemination and reporting activities. Moreover a cultural photographic exposition was organized to sensitize the public to the marine environment and its associated activities. The dissemination activities are further detailed in Deliverable 6.3.
List of Websites:
www.ecoaqua.eu
Scientific project manager: Gercende Courtois de Viçose gcourtois@fpct.ulpgc.es
Coordinator: Ricardo Haroun ricardo.haroun@ulpgc.es

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 621341

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    1 May 2014

  • End date

    30 April 2019

Funded under:

FP7-REGPOT

  • Overall budget:

    € 2 571 812,01

  • EU contribution

    € 2 074 539,78

Coordinated by:

UNIVERSIDAD DE LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA