Denmark.- New, large international research project will improve the cultivation and utilization of organisms at the bottom of the marine food chain. DTU Aqua is part of an international research project, AquaVitae, looking to improve aquaculture of organisms such as mussels, sea urchins and sea cucumbers. Together with researchers from 16 countries, researchers from DTU Aqua’s Danish Shellfish Centre will for the next four years look into optimization of production of these species for human consumption – but also at exploiting by-products; e.g. mussel shellscontain carbon and could be used for e.g. insolation.
AquaVitae is a new research and innovation project funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. The project consortium consists of 36 partners, from 16 different countries, spread across four continents. In addition to Europe, partners are situated in countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean, including Brazil, South Africa, Namibia, as well as in North America.
Danish Shellfish Center at DTU Aqua will be leading the work on blue mussel production in new off-coast areas. DTU Aqua coordinator Pernille Nielsen “We will help increase the production of blue mussels for food and feed and show how by-products (shells) can be used as an anthropogenic carbon sink. The project will contribute to increased production of sustainable high-quality marine protein source for food and feed produced by low carbon footprint production methods”
The project is coordinated by Nofima – the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research. “It’s an exciting challenge to bring together industry and research partners from across the length and breadth of the Atlantic to address relevant societal challenges,” says project coordinator Philip James.
Aquaculture value chains
The project’s purpose is to introduce new low trophic species, products and processes in marine aquaculture value chains across the Atlantic. The five chosen value chains include macroalgae, Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA), echinoderm species (e.g. sea urchins), shellfish and finfish. IMTA is a process that farms several species together using waste from one species as feed for another.
“The value chains were selected because of their promising contributions to sustainable food and feed production. There is a lot of potential in these value chains and we wish to discover new ways to improve them,” says James.
The value chain of existing shellfish species (mussel and oysters) will investigate the research issues that are inhibiting expansion and growth of the industry, including production and on-grow of native species in areas that currently rely on introduced species (e.g. oyster culture) and to expand shellfish aquaculture to new areas.
This correlates with recommendations made in the Food from the Oceans report (2017), which highlighted the need to expand low- and multi-trophic marine aquaculture as an ecologically efficient source of increasing food and feed.
To complete the objectives, 11 case studies will be conducted across the Atlantic, with emphasis on developing new products from low-trophic species (e.g. macroalgae and sea urchins), optimising production in existing industries (e.g. shellfish and finfish) and moving towards zero waste and a circular economy in aquaculture (e.g. IMTA and Biofloc).
Some of the cross-cutting activities involve research into biosensors, Internet of Things (IoT), product characteristics, market potential, sustainability, environmental monitoring, as well as conducting risk assessments, analyses of value chains, studying profitability and the legal framework.
Furthermore, the project will implement a multi-actor approach to ensure stakeholder involvement in all phases of the project. Companies act as partners of the consortium together with research institutes and universities, which will also help to establish a durable aquaculture industry and research network around the Atlantic Ocean.
Horizon 2020 is the biggest Research and Innovation programme of the European Union with nearly 80€ of funding for the period 2014- 2020. It selects outstanding research proposals for taking great ideas from the lab to the market.
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Source: DTU Aqua