Alicia Estévez has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the Complutense University of Madrid (1982) and a PhD in Fisheries from Kagoshima University (Japan, 1996) and several post-doc fellowships (Stirling University, UK, 1997 with a EU Grant in Aid and Kyoto University, Japan, 1998-2000 with a scholarship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, JSPS). She works as a researcher at the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA), at the Centre of San Carlos de la Rápita that belongs to the Generalitat de Cataluña, where she has been working since 2000 in marine aquaculture, mainly in the larviculture of marine organisms (including fish, crustaceans and mollucs) and in fish nutrition and feeding.
Alicia has written over 130 scientific papers and has been involved in more than 40 national (JACUMAR, MICINN, CDTI) and international projects. Alicia is involved in MedAID project (Mediterranean Aquaculture Integrated Development), as the leader of WP2 -Improving Zootechnical Performance.Continue reading
There is a trend towards increased concern for the welfare of animals under human care, and this concern has expanded to include the welfare of farmed fish. However, at present, the necessary operational welfare indicators (OWI) and implementation protocols required to monitor and safeguard the welfare of farmed fish are lacking. Operational Welfare Indicators (OWI) in aquaculture are measures that can be used to assess welfare status in individual animals or groups of animals, made practical and operational on commercial aquaculture facilities (Martins et al. 2012). The best set of OWIs for a particular situation will depend on variables such as farmed species, life stage, husbandry system, environmental conditions, especially temperature and photoperiod.
The main objective of this report is to list a potential range of targeted OWI protocols to be used in the industry to improve the knowledge on welfare of seabream, the main fish species cultured in the Mediterranean area.Continue reading
SNP arrays are enabling tools for high-resolution studies of the genetic basis of complex traits, and for incorporating genetic markers to expedite genetic gain in selective breeding programmes. The development of a SNP array for the European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and the gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata) would be of significant importance for Mediterranean aquaculture, as it would allow, among other relevant applications, to implement Genomic Selection (GS).
GS is a method by which genome-wide genetic marker data are used to predict the breeding values of individuals with higher accuracy than pedigree-based methods. Consequently, high-density marker panels have a major potential for accelerating genetic gain of breeding programmes through GS, particularly for traits practically impossible to measure on selection candidates, such as disease resistance.Continue reading
Aquaculture, besides being an economic activity that generates employment in coastal and rural areas, is a source of food, essential to ensure food security. This is clearly specified in the FAO report The State of Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 (FAO, 2018), which states that “With capture fishery production relatively static since the late 1980s, aquaculture has been responsible for the continuing impressive growth in the supply of fish for human consumption”.
In the Mediterranean, the demand for fishery products has been rising steadily during the last decades, due to an important population growth and an increase in human per capita consumption (CIHEAM, 2010). These developments have caused a growing pressure on Mediterranean fish stocks, most of which (about 78%) are currently being fished at biologically unsustainable levels, according to FAO-GFCM (FAO, 2018b). Thus, as in other areas, Mediterranean countries are facing an important and growing seafood supply deficit that can only be compensated by aquaculture.Continue reading
The MedAID project (Mediterranean Aquaculture Integrated Development) aims to improve the key performance indicators (KPIs) of Mediterranean mariculture and considers health and welfare prerequisites for sustainable and profitable aquaculture in the Mediterranean area. Work-package 4: “Health management and diseases and fish welfare” addresses health issues and endeavours to provide tools and common strategies for the prevention and diagnosis of major diseases by creating an operative and collaborative Mediterranean platform. Task 4.2. “Strengthening diagnostic capacities by harmonising competences” focuses its objectives on i) The establishment of a network between all stakeholders included in diagnostics and health management, and ii) The evaluation of laboratory capacity and strengthening diagnostic capacity at national and regional level focusing on the most important pathogens.Continue reading
The MedAID project (Mediterranean Aquaculture Integrated Development) aims to improve the key performance indicators (KPIs) of Mediterranean mariculture and considers health and welfare prerequisites for sustainable and profitable aquaculture in the Mediterranean area. Work package 4: “Health management and diseases and fish welfare” addresses health issues and endeavours to provide tools and common strategies for the prevention and diagnosis of major diseases by creating an operative and collaborative Mediterranean platform. Task 4.2. “Strengthening diagnostic capacities by harmonising competences” focuses its objectives on i) The establishment of systems for communication between key players within diagnostics and health management, and ii) The evaluation of laboratory capacity and strengthening of diagnostic competence at national and regional level focusing on the most important pathogens. Given that European sea bass and Gilthead sea bream diseases are listed neither in OIE aquatic code nor in EU legislation, and there are no standards for the improvement of their health, the first step was to define the most relevant diseases requiring improved diagnostics methodologies. The list of the most important diseases was created as a product of several activities: i) results of the survey organised by European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) for Fish and Crustacean Diseases for fish diseases addressed to a group of fish pathologists from the Mediterranean region consisted of questions designated to identify and characterise the most important diseases and map the health issues and infectious diseases, ii) the working group discussions during the annual meetings of national reference laboratories for fish diseases organised to define the perception of the impact and risk of infectious fish diseases in different parts of Europe, iii) data collected during the “Workshop on animal health and risk analysis in finfish aquaculture in the Mediterranean and Black Sea” organised by GFCM, in Larnaca, Cyprus on 3-4 October 2018 and iv) the results described in the MedAID “Assessment of the sustainability of Mediterranean aquaculture” (project Deliverable 1.2). These documents streamlined the selection of viral and bacterial diseases needing harmonised and improved diagnostic protocols. The diagnostic procedures for selected viral and bacterial diseases are described in the MedAID’s “Diagnostic manual for the main pathogens in European sea bass and Gilthead sea bream aquaculture”. The diagnostic manual consists of the detailed protocols for sampling, shipping and receipt of samples in the laboratory, followed by protocols for diagnosis of Viral Nervous Necrosis (VNN), Vibriosis caused by V. anguillarum and V. harveyi, Photobacteriosis, infections caused by Aeromonas spp., Tenacibaculum spp., Mycobacterium spp., procedures in the case of mortalities caused by unknown pathogens and reporting of the results of diagnostic procedures. This manual can be a very useful document to improve individual laboratory competence, select the methods to be harmonized and secure confidence in test results throughout the Mediterranean basin. The diagnostic manual will be published in journal “Option Mediterannennes” by the end of the current year.
The capacity of a laboratory to diagnose and genotype VNN was evaluated by means of interlaboratory proficiency testing and it was concluded that there is a room for improvement, particularly in the ability of laboratories to genotype different genotypes of NNV.
Using Google forms, in cooperation with the PerformFISH H2020 Project, the diagnostic capacities of fifty-two laboratories throughout the Mediterranean basin were evaluated. It is concluded that capacities are not in tune with the aquaculture production and the pathways of improvement and strengthening should be imposed. More efforts should be put into building the capacities of countries lacking specific techniques, and systems for improved training of laboratory personnel is highly requested.
The process of strengthening diagnostic capacities started through activities such as the establishment of the MedAID Online Health Forum (which has already launched 3 open discussions on topics such as Sparicotylosis, VNN and Tenacibaculosis) and by organising advanced training courses for professionals on Aquatic Animal Health (as the two courses organised by CIHEAM with collaboration of MedAID and other importante international partners. The above mentioned Diagnostic Manual will also contribute to the aim of enhancing diagnostic capacities. Such activities are important to sustain as pillars for improving disease management in the Mediterranean.
MedAID task 6.2 focuses on the analysis of market equilibrium by the estimation of the supply and demand functions at various levels of the value chain and under different competitive environments. The market for seabass and seabream is periodically shocked by instability and price volatility, seriously compromising the profitability of the business and the survival of the industry (STECF, 2014, 2016, 2018). The analysis performed here attempts to identify the causes of this instability and to be used as reference for the development of strategic marketing recommendations to avoid upcoming risks and failures.
The analysis is performed at different levels which involve long and short term, international and national markets and disaggregated by value chain levels. Every model was tested for those National markets where information is available, with the required periodicity and in long enough series to fit with the minimum sample size. Unfortunately these data are not available or complete for all countries in the required format. However, the main national markets, covering about three quarters of total seabass and seabream consumption and production, are included in the analysis in one or several models.Continue reading
Last month, on 12 June 2019, more than 50 experts attended the MedAID seminar on “Common pathological problems in marine fish farms and hatcheries as well as the role of biosecurity in preventing their spread”, which was held in Alexandria, Egypt, at the National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (NIOF). During the seminar, experts from NIOF, the University of Alexandria, the University of Cairo, and CIHEAM Zaragoza presented the project MedAID and the topic “Diseases and biosecurity, the most prevalent diseases affecting marine fish farming in Egypt and in Spain”, as well as the preliminary results of the survey conducted in Spain on Biosecurity measures and management in marine fish farming. The participants discussed the impacts of disease in marine fish farms and possible control measures, including the levels of biosecurity that could be implemented.Continue reading
Last week, on March 28, 2019, took placed in Zaragoza a MedAID Seminar of the Spanish Working Group of the Work-package 4 on Health management, diseases and animal welfare. Forty experts from all the steps of the aquaculture value chain working on fish diseases diagnosis, management and prevention met to analyze the current situation the regarding prevalence of main diseases, about biosecurity measures and the need for a further communication and coordination among involved experts, companies and institutions.