Deliverable D2.2 – Assessment of rearing conditions to improve juvenile quality and fish welfare

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 that are fundamental to improve their related Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This is a multidisciplinary WP that looks for correlations between different parameters related to rearing conditions, environmental factors feeding, growth, fish health and fish quality.

Task 2.2 (Assessment of the optimal rearing conditions to improve quality and fish health) addresses the problem of rearing conditions from a multidisciplinary approach in European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata). Considering the different factors involved, this task has focused on the Effects of temperature in seabass during larval development (Subtask 2.2.1); Effect of optimal water current inducing swimming behaviour (Subtask 2.2.2) and Effects of fish density and daily feeding frequency on KPIs (Subtask 2.2.3).Continue reading

Deliverable D4.1 – Biosecurity and risk of disease introduction and spread in Mediterranean seabass and seabream farms

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 aims to provide tools and common strategies for the prevention and diagnosis of major diseases by creating an operative and collaborative Mediterranean platform. Task 4.1 aims to assess the risk of introduction and spread of emerging diseases at farm level, and to describe biosecurity measures to improve disease biosecurity management in seabass and seabream production in the Mediterranean basin.

A questionnaire survey was executed during the period 2018-2019. A convenient sample drawn from the MedAID database of farms/companies covering the Mediterranean basin included a total of 88 farms producing seabass and/or seabream from Croatia, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Tunisia, and Turkey. The purpose of this survey was to obtain an overview of farm and health management, biosecurity measures, fish health monitoring and disease diagnostics of Mediterranean marine fish farms. The questionnaire contained 19 different themes and was performed as face-to-face interviews. A univariate statistical analysis was run to test for significant association between farm mortality and various variables. Major findings were the significant association between farms reporting no major mortality due to pathogens and farms with good biosecurity practices.Continue reading

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 D6.1 – Efficiency and economic optimization of production in the Mediterranean aquaculture industry

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 the seabass and seabream industry, in recent years production has experienced problems of economic performance that affect companies competitiveness. In this context, the MedAID Project and, within Work-package 6 (Improving bussiness performance and development of strategic marketing plans), Task 6.1 “Economics of aquaculture production” focuses on analyzing the production efficiency, productivity and optimal production in the Mediterranean aquaculture at company level focusing on seabass and seabream production.

Subtask 6.1.1 has developed a first study whose objective has been to investigate the technical efficiency and scale effects in Mediterranean sea cage farms producing seabass and seabream. Furthermore, environmental effects originating from the farms are also discussed. The study is based on data collected within the MedAID WP1. The technical efficiency effects are analysed using Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) and a Tobit regression is applied for a second stage analysis of the environmental variables. Results show that the mean technical efficiency is 0.84 and bias corrected mean technical efficiency 0.71. The interpretation is that the average farm could reduce inputs by 16% without reducing outputs, if the average farm was producing in the manner of the best-practice farms in the sample. Scale efficiency is rather low, suggestion that there is room for improving efficiency if firms are operating at a more optimal scale. For the environmental variables reported, feed conversion rate is in line with other papers, but the emission of nitrogen and phosphorus is higher than in other finfish aquaculture industries in EU. This might be due to different regulations on emissions between countries and different feeding strategies among different producers.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