GAIN Summer School: online from August 30th to September 3rd

The GAIN journey is nearly over and we would like to share results and lessons learnt with motivated young researchers and operators, eager to contribute to the ecological transition of the aquaculture sector.

The GAIN Summer School “Ecological Transition in Aquaculture” will provide key concepts and tools concerning: precision aquaculture, circular economy, sustainability assessment, policies and markets. Students will get an up-to-date knowledge of key ideas in these areas and then will be led through the GAIN innovations, thus discovering how the main challenges in aquaculture field can be dealt with by adopting the GAIN approach to the ecological intensification of this sector.

Talks delivered by GAIN experts will be complemented by contributions from other EU projects, focused on aquaculture ecological transition, and worldwide recognized authorities. Students will be engaged in demonstration sessions, using virtual tools, e.g., mentimeter, and encouraged to interact within focus group.

The Summer School will be held Online from August 30th to September 3rd, 2021.

Five morning sessions, from 9:30 to 13:30 CEST, will be complemented by two afternoon sessions, from 14:30 to 16:30 CEST, for a total of 24 hours of training. The participation is completely free of charge.

Official language of the school is English. The School will admit up to 40 students. The admission is based on a CV and a motivation letter. Deadline for application is August 6th.

More info and application here.

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Novel Aquafeeds workshop

A new workshop on the novel concepts and solutions for more eco-efficient aquafeeds with GAIN partners is coming up in September 21 and 22.

Hosted by GAIN with the support from H2020 projects PerformFISH, AquaIMPACT, MEDAID, AQUAVITAE, NewTechAqua; and project SUSHIN (Italy)

The purpose of this Workshop is to present and discuss new developments of knowledge on novel fish feeds that support eco-intensification of the aquaculture industry, providing training to professionals on this topic, including aspects of value creation and sustainable use of by-products and side streams from aquaculture, fisheries and agro-industries.

If you are a professional in the aquafeed value chain (e.g., Junior and Senior staff involved in R&D, formulation and technical support), or part of the research institutions (e.g., Lecturers, Researchers, PhD students, post-docs) across the enlarged European Union and other countries, this is for you.

Check out the program:

Day 1 (21 September 2021, Online, 9.30 – 12.30 CEST)

Part 1: Introduction – what are sustainable aquafeeds?

Part 2: Novel ingredients – Strengths and Weaknesses
Yeast and bacterial proteins, PAPs from agroindustry by-products, By-products from aquaculture, Micro and macro-algae, Mineral and Vitamin sources, Challenges for a sustainable supply

Day 2 (22 September 2021, Online, 9.30 – 12.30 CEST)

Part 3: Alternative fish feed formulations – Results for the industry
Results from GAIN, PerformFISH, AquaIMPACT, MEDAID and SUSHIN

Part 4: Novel tools to assess feed performance – Where are we and how to progress
Molecular Biomarkers, Microbiome analysis, Simulation models

𝗥𝗲𝗴𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿 here 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸𝘀𝗵𝗼𝗽.

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Still curious about Blue Fashion?

By: Wesley Malcorps

Check out the latest video on the GAIN2020 YouTube channel, ‘Fashion from the Sea II’.

The University of Stirling once again produced another interesting piece for the video series ‘Voices from the Water’.

Meet Daniel Hatton (founder and CEO at Commonwealth Fashion Council (CFC)) and Neishaa Gharat (founder and designer at House of Gharats).

They talk about circular economy, blue fashion and designs using fish leather, seaweeds and much more. The video includes an amazing showcase of fashion products and materials from James Ambani, CEO at Victorian-foods, Sheena Frida C and Barbara della Rovere.

Check out the GAIN2020 youtube channel and subscribe for more videos.

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We are One – Aren’t we?

By: Candice Jade Parkes

Sustainable farming sometimes seems like an unreachable glamorous idea. How do you feed almost 8 billion people in a sustainable way when we already know that habitats are being lost, species are going extinct, water resources are running out, etc. It seems like a fantasy.

But on a smaller scale, this may be possible. Using the ocean as a farming seascape is a great opportunity, but how do we make sure that we do not farm the sea in the same destructive way we have farmed the dry lands?

I recently worked on a project with the aim of intensifying fish and shellfish farms while improving animal welfare, all in an environmentally friendly way. This too seems like a glamorous idea. But with the help of local fishermen, scientists, software developers and, of course, you the consumer, this can be made possible.

Fundamentally, we need to realize that we do not function alone in this world, we are all part of a ‘bigger something’ that pulses and beats together, connected in one way or another. Two birds that communicate through songs, Blue Whales and Penguins that both eat krill, migrations, the metamorphosis and shedding of exoskeletons, the oxygen we breathe, the light we see, and the arms and legs that move us – we are all connected, and sustainability IS reachable is when we understand this connection.

The GAIN objective

By: Andre Sobral Lopes

Yesterday we launched the official GAIN project Youtube channel:

The GAIN project

The GAIN project aims are to promote the eco-intensification of aquaculture. But what does this mean?

To sustainably farm more fish in the same area, i.e. to make more with less! With the combination of precision aquaculture, improved feeds and re-using secondary products while reducing waste, we aim to grow a healthier and environmentally friendlier fish.

A goodfish: tasty, nutritious, sustainable and happy.

To define this ’goodfish‘ we need to understand its economic and environmental sustainability, welfare as well as its nutritional and taste qualities. This way we can support consumers and businesses with metrics based on good data that compare seafood options and guide good choices.

This is the end game of GAIN: to help provide more and better seafood for the future.

Carp aquaculture in Poland: an ancient tradition established by monks (part 2)

By: Wesley Malcorps, Piotr Eljasik, Richard Newton, Jacek Sadowski and Remigiusz Panicz

After the conference it was time to go into the field and meet some of the farmers in the center and north of the country. This area of Poland is relatively flat with some hills, and large water bodies, making it an excellent habitat for carp. In late February farmers are preparing to move their fish into ‘production ponds’, which they will occupy until the next winter. At that time carps are transferred to deep (approximately 2.5m) ponds to hibernate. This cycle is repeated in the second year until the fish reach a harvesting size of 1.5 kg to 2 kg.

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The carp sector faces many challenges, such as strict regulations, predators and consumer preference for other fish. Despite that, there are also many opportunities, such as better carp processing into multiple products and  eco-intensification using novel formulated feeds. GAIN is exploring the sector to assess the impact of different innovations to support the sustainable growth of the industry: we are also looking forward to contribute and collaborate with everyone involved in the sector.

Carp aquaculture in Poland: an ancient tradition established by monks (part 1)

By: Wesley Malcorps, Piotr Eljasik, Richard Newton, Jacek Sadowski and Remigiusz Panicz

On February 17th UoS colleagues arrived in Poland to start data collection on the carp aquaculture value chain together with Polish partners from ZUT. The main goal is to gain insight into industry practices and collect value chain and life cycle assessment data from Polish carp farming value chain.

ZUT has a large network in the sector and proposed to meet the industry players at the 25th National Conference of Carp Breeders and Training for Fish Producers. This event took place between the 19th and 21st of February 2020 in Slok, a small town in the centre of Poland- this was an excellent opportunity to talk with stakeholders and introduce them to the GAIN project.

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The Polish carp sector is considered ‘extensive’: traditional, functioning in large ponds (few hectares up to a few hundred hectares) with low feed or other inputs, while also exposed to predation from birds and other wildlife – as a result, these ponds are characterized by their natural production capacity. Intensification strategies like pond fertilization and feed application (e.g. grains or formulated feeds) are uncommon. This natural and traditional way of producing carp dates back to the middle ages where monks constructed earthen ponds to provide food for the communities. Such carp farming systems are unique to Eastern Europe and produce only a small share of the global carp production.

The majority of carp is farmed in China, using different production systems, of which some are considered ‘intensive’ – with high stocking densities, pond fertilization and formulated feeds. Most of these ponds use polyculture strategies where multiple species maintain the balance in an ecosystem – waste of one species is used as a feed input for the other.

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Richard presenting on Chinese carp aquaculture, while Piotr translates in Polish.

Richard Newton substituted Wenbo Zhang (unable to travel from China due to the Coronavirus) and willingly gave the presentation while providing some interesting insights in the development of aquaculture in China and in particular the diversity in Chinese carp farming systems. Polish carp farmers were curious about it.

(end of part 1 – expect part 2 soon)

Surrounded by innovation

By: Meredith Burke and Catilin Stockwell

Over the past few decades, technological advances have completely revolutionized our society. It has influenced the way we live our lives, from the way we watch TV, to the way we conduct our scientific research. However, the aquaculture industry has fallen by the wayside. Big data, collected and distributed to our hands in the form of apps, have begun to dominate our world, so why is this not the case in one of the fastest growing industries in the world?

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Farming fish with the Atlantic Canada in the background

Atlantic Canada has recently emerged as a global leader in ocean technology, as well as playing host to one of the largest aquaculture companies in the world, Cooke Aquaculture. We have the unique opportunity of being surrounded by innovation. We are able to work side by side with the developers, as well as the consumers, to field test new technologies, and optimize their performance prior to commercialization.

However, aquaculture is still a relatively young industry, often operating in remote places, so introducing the use of technology has been difficult. Through research projects, we have been able to merge two key industry partners: ocean technology via InnovaSea, and salmon aquaculture, through Cooke, in order to improve management practices.

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Meredith’s research focuses primarily on using real-time sensors to study water quality parameters, like oxygen and temperature, to understand how they vary through a farm, and what may influence these variations. At the same time, Caitlin uses acoustic telemetry to track fish movement in order to understand fish behaviour and improve welfare management. These two projects together allow us to provide a more holistic view of fish farming to create a more sustainable industry.

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We hope that our work will help inform other aquaculture industries throughout the world, to become more innovative, improve farming practices, and ultimately create happier and healthier fish, with the ability to feed a growing population.

Women in aquaculture

By: Caitlin Stockwell

I am Caitlin, a Californian living in Canada studying salmon aquaculture at Dalhousie University. Some of the questions I get asked all the time is “why did you leave California?” and “why come to Canada?” And the answer is simple: my education.

Canada is one of the top producers in salmon in the world, and a large percentage of exported salmon is farm raised. So, what better place to study aquaculture than in Canada? It seems like a simple solution, but how could I be successful in a field mainly dominated by men?

Email after email, I contacted professors to see if there was any availability for a new graduate student, and got no response at all, or rejections with responses of “not enough funding” or “no more space for new students”. It was discouraging, and I was about to put my efforts on hold until the following school year when I met my current advisor, Dr. Jon Grant, at a benthic ecology conference. He gave me the opportunity to follow my interests of fish behavior and apply them to an expanding field of aquaculture.

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Now two years later, I have been to two provinces performing fish behavior studies. There is always one thing I can rely on when going to a new site, all of the site workers are male. I have visited or worked at 4 different aquaculture sites in two different provinces and every site is mainly dominated by men, and I have more often than not been the only woman around. This has inspired me to continue to pursue my passion for improving fish welfare in aquaculture while at the same time continuing to push the next generation to pursue their dreams despite the societal norms.

Do we know how much fish we eat?

by: Andre Lopes

The GAIN project found that some of the most popular seafood’s in Europe appear to have a higher consumption than that reported in official statistics. The report, based on seafood demand data, focused on ten European countries and a large number of seafood products.

In addition to demand data, new supply statistics were considered to include other sources of seafood, including subsistence and illegal fishing. This showed that for cod, salmon, or tuna, consumption may be higher than previously estimated.

We found that salmon, the most consumed farmed aquatic product in the EU, appears to have a consumption of 2.21 kg per capita, significantly higher than the 1.30 kg per capita estimates based on supply data. This means that each European consumer appears to eat almost one extra kg each year of salmon unaccounted for in official statistics. Although an extra 900 grams of salmon eaten annually by each person only corresponds to an extra meal every two months, if this gap is scaled up to the European population the numbers are of concern.

Similar numbers were determined for tuna, cod, trout, and other common seafood products. Total consumption of seafood in Europe could be as much as 4.3 kg per capita for farmed products and 8.9 kg per capita for wild-caught products.

Taken on aggregate, the mass balance gap for aquatic products, i.e. from fisheries and aquaculture combined, means that as much as one million metric tons per year of seafood could end up on European plates without being recorded in official statistics.

The most likely reason for this substantial discrepancy between supply and demand data are flaws in the datasets—collectively, this introduces substantial uncertainties for policy outcomes. The GAIN project makes a number of suggestions for improvements in this critical area—without good data, there are no good decisions.