Deliverable D3.2 – Phenotypic and genotypic records

This report is part of MedAID Work Package 3 on Genetics and Breeding. This is a multidisciplinary WP that looks to develop and determine the performance of SNP chips in production and breeding populations, and to perform a comparative phenotypic and genetic study of different populations of European seabass and gilthead seabream.

In all animal bioproduction, lipids are important nutrients, because they are linked to production efficiency. The deposition of lipids in organs and tissues, e.g. adipose tissue, liver, muscle, heart and gonads, are also linked to the health, welfare and reproduction of the animals. Hence, compartmentalisation of the lipids is much studied. It is known that constant energy excess may lead to excessive lipid deposition in the body and internal organs and thereby increase the risk of metabolic disorders, oxidative stress and inflammation. However, not only the fat contents but also the fatty acid contents are studied in fish, in particular of the long-chained omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) , because of their beneficial health effects in fish and humans.Continue reading

Deliverable D2.1 – Effects of genetic variability, feeding regime and feed formulations on fish adiposity

MedAID Work-package 2 (Improving Zootechnical Performance) starts from the current context of knowledge in fish nutrition, and considers work on improvement in rearing conditions and feeding strategies fundamental to improve their related Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This is a multidisciplinary WP that looks for correlations among different parameters related to feeding and growth.

The aquaculture industry seeks for shorter production cycles, implying faster weight gain, and targeting to reduce high fish somatic lipid reserves which decreases feed efficiency and fish quality. It is well-known that farmed fish accumulate substantial lipid amounts and significant perivisceral fat as they grow, due to intense feeding and lower physical activity. This remarkable lipid deposition significantly reduces feed utilization and product value.

Task 2.1 (Assessing the optimal feeding strategies in order to reduce the adipose tissue in commercial-sized fish) addresses the problem of fat deposition from a multidisciplinary approach in European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata). Considering the different factors involved in adiposity, this task has focused on the influence of the origin of fish, the impact of feed formulation and feeding strategies in order to reduce the adipose tissue in commercial-sized fish. The work implemented here was organized in two main research objectives, Subtask 2.1.1, which looked at the “Evaluation of the hormonal differences between lean and fat fish” and Subtask 2.1.2, which looked at the “Effect of feed composition and temperature on fat deposition”.Continue reading

Deliverable D6.3 – Attitudes, communication and prices

The goal of MedAID is to increase the overall competitiveness and sustainability of the Mediterranean marine fish-farming sector, throughout the whole value chain. Despite the positive general trend in the growth of this industry, in recent years, seabream and seabass production has experienced problems of economic performance that affect companies’ competitiveness. Whereas economic research has covered almost all aspects of the economics of other species such as salmon, the same attention has not been given to seabass and seabream. In this context, the MedAID Project, through its Work Package 6 (Improving business performance and development of strategic marketing plans), focuses its research on various topics relevant for the seabass and seabream sector, such as assessment of economic efficiency; assessment of market efficiency; analysis of preferences and consumer behaviour; and economic analysis of technical improvements and innovations.

This Deliverable presents the results and conclusions of two tasks: i) Task 6.3 (Communication tools in Mediterranean aquaculture), whose main goal is to analyse the sources of information that give rise to positive or negative reactions on the demand side, which may affect market volume and prices; and ii) Task 6.4 (Assessment of preferences in the retail/consumer segment), which aims to assess consumers’ and traders/retailers’ preferences and willingness to pay for product attributes by using hedonic and choice models.Continue reading

Deliverable D5.3 – Development of new added value fish prototypes at pilot-scale for different fish market channels

More product innovation and the development of new products for new markets is clearly needed for a more long-term competitive supply-demand equilibrium of Mediterranean aquaculture (European Seabass, Gilthead seabream and meagre). As in the rest of the food industry, the improvement of the competitiveness and sustainability of the Mediterranean marine aquaculture sector is governed by current consumer trends, which translates into the need to transform the species of aquaculture to make available to consumers the safe, quality and convenience products they demand.

In WP5 we aimed to explore and validate the technical and market feasibility of developing different product alternatives of specific Mediterranean aquaculture fish species for commercial exploitation, identifying the best market solution for each type of fish species, transforming them into new value-added products, and tailor-made to satisfy the needs of different consumer profiles (children, senior, gourmet/premium, ethnic etc.), and finally adapted to the needs of diverse food and fish market channels.Continue reading

Deliverable D4.5 – Report on fish welfare and list of operational welfare indicators in sea bream

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

Deliverable D3.1 – Development of a combined species SNP Array for the European Sea Bass and the Gilthead Sea Bream

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

Deliverable D1.3 – Integrated Holistic Assessment of Mediterranean Aquaculture

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

Strengthening diagnostic capacities and harmonising methods

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

Deliverable D4.2 – Report on diagnostic capacities and harmonising methods

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.

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Deliverable D6.2 – Market dynamics

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