i) What is your contribution to the MedAID project?
The company is involved in most of the Work packages of the MedAID project. There are Work Packages, like WP1-Holistic sustainability assessment of Mediterranean aquaculture: zootechnical, environmental, economic, social, and governance, and WP5-Product development, market and consumer assessment, where our contribution so far has been to give data and information relevant to the above mentioned issues, by completing questionnaires, surveys etc.
There are also Work Packages, like WP2-Improving zootechnical performance and WP3-Genetics and breeding, where our contribution is more relevant to the company’s mission, i.e. produce high quality fish.
For example, in WP2 we had two missions. The first one was to grow sea bass until 20gr average weight and then send them to HCMR, where an evaluation of the hormonal differences between lean and fat fish will take place. The second one was to produce sea bream juveniles of 2gr average weight and then stock in one of our cages, half the produced population and transport the rest of the population to another company in Spain (Cudomar). Both companies will feed these fish from 100gr until harvest weight of 400gr, with experimental feeds produced by Dibaq. In this way the only difference will be the environmental profile of the two different Mediterranean areas.
Afterwards, in WP3, when the cage trial will be almost over, both companies will collect from their fish 1,000 fin clips, which will be genotyped and together with the rest of the production data produced by this case study, the WUR will try to assess possible genotype by environment interactions between fish that are coming from the same broodstock and have been fed the same feed.
ii) Why is this research needed?
The Mediterranean basin is a wide area with so many different environments, microclimates etc. The Mediterranean sea bass and sea bream aquaculture, although it is a dynamic sector, which is constantly growing, cannot be compared to other areas, for example, with the salmon farming in northern Europe, neither technologically nor productively. Each work package targets a different aspect of aquaculture, such as production, fish health, genetics, socio-economic matters etc. first in order to evaluate the industry so far, then to experiment and try to find holistic solutions to its problems and finally to allow all this knowledge, experience and information to be passed on to producers so that they can be used to launch the industry performance at a higher level.
The main reason this research is needed, would be to investigate the challenges that this sector is facing in all the above issues and the development of new feeds, medicines, equipment, electronic tools that the producers could use to improve their fish performance, welfare, survival and, why not, taste.
iii) What are the main expected outcomes/or possible impacts on the sector?
As far as the production is concerned, we believe that the positive impacts on the sector will come a) from the development of new, species specific feeds, that could reduce the FCR, improve the fish health and their growth, b) the development of medicines and vaccines that could eliminate the danger of sudden big scale mortalities, c) the exploration of these species’ genome and their general physiology, in comparison to the “stuck in growth” phenomenon that sometimes appears especially in sea bass.
As for the final product itself, the impact of MedAID will be a) the development of new products, b) their correct and targeted marketing, c) the assessment of the consumers, not only as product buyers but also as possible neighbours, in many cases of farms operating close to their estates and the elimination of the old implications/prejudice of such proximity and d) the consultation, dissemination, communication and training the project will provide to the producers at the end of the 5-year period.
iv) What other projects/activities are you working on?
Apart from “MedAID”, the company is participating in:
• The FP7 European Project “DIVERSIFY”, where, together with the HCMR, we are working on the reproduction and the larval rearing of the Greater Amberjack (Seriola dumerilii).
• Very recently another H2020 European Project “FutureEUAqua” has been approved and will start in the next months, where we will test new biological feeds for the Mediterranean Sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax).
Moreover, the company has a private contract with WUR for the development of a breeding program for Mediterranean Sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and Sea bream (Sparus aurata) and other private contracts with universities, institutes and construction companies for its overall, scientific and technical, improvement.
Thomas SIARMPAS, Area Production Manager
Kalliopi TSAKONITI, R&D Department
Galaxidi Marine Farm S.A., Galaxidi, Greece.