Health forum discussion on Viral Encephalopathy and Retinopathy (VER)

Dates: 17-28 September 2018
Forum coordinator: Dr. Snježana Zrnčić, HVI. Zagreb, Croatia.
Discussion moderators:
Dr. Anna Toffan, IZSV, OIE Reference Laboratory for VER, Italy
Dr. Alain le Breton, VETEAU, France
Niccoló Vendramin, PhD student/Veterinarian, DTU-Aqua, Denmark

The discussion on Betanodavirus is the second topic addressed by the MedAID Health Forum, which is conceived as a platform to gather field diagnosticians, laboratories, relevant authorities in charge of disease management in the Mediterranean mariculture and other stakeholders.

Betanodavirus causes a disease known as Viral Encephalopathy and Retinopathy (VER), also known as Viral Nervous Necrosis (VNN). Since its first description during the early nineties, the disease is now endemic in the Mediterranean Sea and it is considered the most important viral disease affecting farmed and wild marine species. Betanodaviruses have an extended host range, including sea bass, groupers, flatfish and drums but the species that suffer more from this disease in the Mediterranean is undoubtedly the European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax).Continue reading

Prophylactic measures against Viral Encephalopathy and Retinopathy (VER) and vaccine development

The disease and the virus

Viral Encephalopathy and Retinopathy is a viral disease affecting more than 50 fish species, both wild and farmed (sea bass, grouper, sea bream, striped jack, flat fish etc.)(OIE, 2016). The disease causes neurological symptoms and increased mortalities. The disease occurrence has a seasonal pattern, with most outbreaks during the summertime, because of the higher temperatures of the water, which favors virus replication. Fish fry and larvae seem to be most susceptible, and in this age-group the disease can cause up to 100% mortality. Transmission of the disease can occur both horizontal (from fish to fish or equipment/feed to fish) and vertically associated (from brood stock to progeny), and the virus is very persistent in the environment, making spread with vectors (such as boats, feed and equipment) possible. As the name suggest, the disease manifest in the central nervous system causing histopathological necrosis in the brain and retina. Affected fish will either show clinical symptoms such as loss of buoyance control, spiral swimming pattern and darkening of the skin, or die before symptoms appear.Continue reading

Viral Encephalopathy and retinopathy

Viral encephalopathy and retinopathy (VER), also known as viral nervous necrosis (VNN), is a severe neuropathological disease caused by RNA viruses belonging to the Nodaviridae family, genus Betanodavirus. This infectious agent, detected in the early nineties, has rapidly spread worldwide becoming endemic and representing one of the most important limiting factors to the development of mariculture in several countries. Given the expanding host range and geographic diffusion, the disease has recently been included among the most significant viral pathogens of finfish.

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In the Spotlight: Carolina PEÑALOZA

i) What is your contribution to the MedAID project?
In the MedAID project I am part of the WP3 which is called ‘Genetics and Breeding’. The general objective of WP3 is to develop genomic technologies and techniques to improve selective breeding for improved performance of seabass and seabream fish. I work with Prof Ross Houston at Roslin, and we are collaborating with colleagues at NOFIMA on the creation of a combined-species (seabass-seabream) single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array. A SNP array is a technology that allows the high-throughput genotyping of tens of thousands of SNPs distributed throughout the genome in an individual of a species. To develop the SNP array, we will sequence the whole genome of several population samples from both seabass and seabream fish species. Molecular probes for these SNPs will then be placed on the array.Continue reading

SOFIA and Mediterranean Aquaculture


The name of Sofia has deep 2Mediterranean roots. Of Greek origin meaning “wisdom”, Sofia was the name of an early, probably mythical, saint who died of grief after her three daughters were martyred during the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian. Sofia is also a very popular girls’ name in many Western and Latin countries, as well as among partners of the MedAID H2020 Project. For many years, an actress (Sophia Loren) made us to believe that Sofia was a synonym of Mediterranean… beauty. More recently, Sophia has been used in Artificial Intelligence to name the world’s first robot declared a citizen by Saudi Arabia.

SOFIA is also the acronym of a well known report published every two years by FAO about The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture.  The 2018 edition of SOFIA emphasizes the sector’s role in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. As in past editions, SOFIA makes an analysis of the major trends and patterns observed in global fisheries and aquaculture, and it reviews new and upcoming topics and areas that need to be considered when managing aquatic resources. SOFIA 2018 is available in the five FAO official languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish). It can be downloaded here in PDF format, and for the first time in MOBI and E-PUB versions too.Continue reading

In the Spotlight: Sofia ENGROLA, Cláudia ARAGÃO and Rita COLEN

i) What is your contribution to the MedAID project?
In MedAID we are working in WP1 – Holistic sustainability assessment of Mediterranean aquaculture: zootechnical, environmental, economic, social and governance, participating in the Data Collection Working Group. We have been interviewing collaborative farms in order to gather technical and socioeconomic information that will help to define typologies of Mediterranean aquaculture farming.
We are also working on WP2 – Improving zootechnical performance. This workpackage will address current gaps in fish feeding, management practices and fish behaviour and welfare. Thus, WP2 will focus on the main Key Performance Indicators (KPI) identified by the industry for European seabass and gilthead seabream, like growth rate and feed efficiency.Continue reading

In the Spotlight: Thomas SIARMPAS and Kalliopi TSAKONITI

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.Continue reading

Meet our team – WP7 – Social acceptability and governance of aquaculture development in the Mediterranean

Aquaculture development is one of the mail pillars of the European Blue Growth Strategy that can be also addressed at the whole of the Mediterranean eco-region. However, this development is facing many technical, technological, social and economic challenges. In addition, as is the case with other recent activities requiring for space (eg. wind farms….), aquaculture should be aware of its role within the coastal and marine social ecological systems in a way to convince the society about its benefits. In general, Social Acceptability as a concept has been rejected by the social sciences because it has been interpreted as the way of making political decisions. Social acceptability stems from major shortcomings on two levels: that of local acceptability, because of the impact the projects in question have on communities directly affected (noise, pollution, traffic, safety, property values, etc.); and that of social relevance, because developers have proven to be unable of convincing communities that projects will meet certain guidelines or expectations (sectoral policies, direct and indirect economic spinoffs, overall environmental impacts).Continue reading

Health forum discussion on Sparicotylosis

Dates: 2-13 July 2018
Forum coordinator: Dr. Snježana Zrnčić, HVI. Zagreb, Croatia.
Discussion moderator: Dr. Ivona Mladineo, ZOR, Split. Croatia.

The discussion on Sparicotylosis is the first topic addressed by the MedAID Health Forum, which is conceived as a platform that will gather field diagnosticians, laboratories, relevant authorities in charge of disease management in the Mediterranean mariculture and other stakeholders

This parasitosis is caused by the relatively large monogenean – Sparicotyle (syn. Microcotyle) chrysophrii that can be observed by naked eye. Although once considered as a specialist monogenean species that infects exclusively the gilthead sea bream, today we know that it parasitises also other wild sparids (bogue, pickerel) present at the farm sites. Continue reading


Sparycotyle chrysophrii is a monogenean gill parasite specific for the sea bream (Sparus aurata), causing mortalities when contacted at high prevalence (61.5%) in fish cages (Sanz, 1992; Alvarez-Pellitero, 2004; Vigianou et al. 2006). A parasite has been isolated from the wild (Rajduković and Euzet, 1989; Faisal and Imam, 1990) and the cultured sea bream, and cultured sharpsnout bream (Diplodus puntazzo) (Mladineo and Maršić-Lučić, 2007).Continue reading