Deliverable D7.1 – Guidelines in support of Social Acceptability for aquaculture development

Aquaculture in the countries bordering the Mediterranean and the Black Sea has grown substantially over the past decades, helping meet the rising demand for fishery products and contributing to increasing food security, employment and economic development in the region. However, this rapid expansion in some cases not well planned, has caused concerns about environmental impact, competitions with other local activities, human health and social issues.

Social acceptability refers to the degree to which aquaculture activities are accepted or precluded by the public at large. Social acceptability is also a key driver for sustainable aquaculture development and understanding the drivers that influence it could help unlock the aquaculture development potential and establish sustainable models that could contribute to the building of consensus around aquaculture activities.Continue reading

Deliverable D2.4 – Case studies as a proof of concept and validation of feeding practices and strategies

The evaluation of aquaculture performance is a difficult task as full-scale aquaculture production is affected by numerous parameters, such as structure and size of culture units, environmental conditions (temperature, water flow, winds, fouling, etc.), husbandry (feed and feedig pracices, fish handling, monitoring, etc.), which are very difficult to be mimicked at reseach scale. The evaluation of performance should be addressed with a multidisciplinary approach, difficult to be mimicked at research scale, and very expensive at a pilot or commercial scale. Consequently, the evaluation of causes behind a poor zootechnical performance is a very difficult objective for aquaculture managers, as the above mentioned parameters are interrelated and the sector operates with low profitability margins and on a highly competitive international scale.

There is a need for the sector to develop methodologies for the comparison of zootechnical performance among fish farms, which could facilitate decision making towards the implementation of more efficient and sustainable management practices. Considering the information previously gathered by MedAID regarding feeding practices designed along different tasks in WP2, a large case study was designed in two different sites located along the Mediterranean basin.Continue reading

Deliverable D6.4 – Estimation of the Economic Impact of Improvements in Production and Marketing

The goal of MedAID is to increase the overall competitiveness and sustainability of the Mediterranean marine fish-farming sector throughout the whole value chain. In this context, the MedAID Project Work-package 6 (Improving business performance and development of strategic marketing plans), through the Task 6.5 “Estimation of the economic impact of improvements in production and marketing” aims to analyze the economic impact at the micro (firm/farm) level of some specific measures in the production and marketing areas to improve the financial performance of the European seabass and gilthead seabream aquaculture industry.

To carry out this analysis, we have designed a deterministic static model programmed with the spreadsheet Excel, which we have named MedAID Model for Economic Simulation (MMES), to simulate the annual income statement of an aquaculture facility (firm or farm). The model simulates in an independently way a grow-out facility for growing up seabass and seabream as well as a hatchery-nursery facility to culture seabass and seabream fry and larvae in the Mediterranean Sea. To obtain the baseline values of model parameters, we have used data from representative facilities from six European countries (Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, and Spain) collected in the survey conducted in MedAID’s WP1.Continue reading

Deliverable D2.3 – Recommendations of use for specific feed formulations and immune – stimulants in seabass and seabream during stressful conditions

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 rearing conditions, environmental factors, feeding, growth, fish health and fish quality. Furthermore cultured fish are often exposed to stresses of different nature, which can cause a wide range of physiological alterations, reducing overall performance and fish welfare. Handling operations (e.g. vaccinations, treatments, grading or transport) can involve fish crowding during short times; fasting periods are a consequence of bad weather conditions, when feeding can be impossible, or to voluntary restrictions before harvesting and slaughtering fish; cold water temperature during winter periods can also challenge fish ability to feed and impose long fasting periods. Task 2.3 of MedAID has investigated different options for reducing fish stress by optimizing feed formulation or using functional feeds.

Deliverable 2.3. reports the results from WP2 Task 2.3. Optimize feeding strategies during unfavourable farming conditions, which aims to reduce feed conversion rate (FCR), improve health and stress tolerance by better rearing and feeding strategies for seabass and seabream juveniles.Continue reading

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