Brussels, 17 October 2006
Over-fishing means that many of the world's fish stocks are being depleted, even as the world's fish consumption is on the rise. Aquaculture offers an alternative to extracting fish from free-living stocks. However, there are question marks over the environmental impacts of fish farms and how healthy and tasty fish-farmed fish are.
The SustainAqua project, which is funded to the tune of €2.5 million under FP6, aims to address these problems for the freshwater fish farming sector.
'The project should show how fish farmers in Europe can produce fish more economically and at the same time improve their image by using more environmentally friendly production methods,' said Ina Küddelsmann, Project Manager at the Technology-Transfer Centre (ttz) in Bremerhaven in Germany.
The 24 project partners' plan is to improve the competitiveness of the sector by looking into the culture of different and new types of fish; the commercialisation of by-products and the technical optimisation of the facilities.
Case studies in Poland, Hungary, Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland will provide researchers a representative sample of European aquaculture systems for trout, carp, catfish, eel and tilapia.
A central aspect of all five case studies will be the efficient provision of nutrients to the fish; all too often nutrients build up in the cages in the form of waste products, leading to the pollution of the river or lake where the fish farm is situated. The researchers plan to look into the possibility of converting this waste product into biomass, which could either be sold for use in other industries.
The taste of the final product is also addressed in the project; this is strongly influenced by the food fed to the fish and the conditions in which they are kept. 'We want to show that there is a direct connection between flavour, high quality and sustainable breeding conditions,' explained Werner Mlodzianowski, Director of ttz-Bremerhaven.
Finally, the project partners will develop training materials to help the aquaculture industry apply the project's findings and, ultimately, become more competitive.