Project title: Improving bio-utilization of marine algae as sustainable feed ingredients to increase efficiency and quality of aquaculture production
Project duration: 06/2016-10/2020
Budget: € 25.100
Foundation: Greek General Secretariat for Research and Technology, European Union

Short project description

Global population growth and increase in living standards will push up the demand for fishderived protein in the future. However, resource scarcity (feed, water and energy), environmental impacts, and changes in climate and growing conditions can seriously hamper aquaculture that supplies a significant proportion of human food. New sustainable protein and lipid sources and improved technologies to increase bio-availability of existing sources will be needed to ensure adequate supply of aquafeeds to ensure growth of aquaculture. On the other hand, the growth of the industry has caused environmental concerns. Interestingly, aquaculture effluents can be an excellent medium for algal growth, although they are not usually reused since they contain residual organic compounds, minerals and other micro-pollutants. MARINALGAE4aqua is an innovative research project that targets the development of strategies to increase efficiency of important European farmed fish species (Atlantic salmon and European sea bass) and reduce the environmental impact using micro- & macro-algal biomass as feed ingredients by:  I. Culturing marine algae under optimized technological processes to remove organic compounds and minerals from fish farm effluents, and producing high value products for aquafeeds while recycling nutrients; thus improving the water body quality and reducing the environmental impact. II. Identifying novel feed additives to improve fish digestive capacity and nutrient metabolism upon using the selected algae. III. Improving fish growth and end product quality, reducing time to slaughter and providing a safe and healthy food item with wide consumer acceptance. MARINALGAE4aqua aims to tackle the sustainability challenges of the aquafeed industry by developing cost-effective and resource-efficient alternatives to FM and FO by providing: a) efficient new processes to valorise selected marine algae that could reduce EU imports of protein and lipid sources and minimize over-exploitation of wild fish stocks, loss of biodiversity and environmental burden and b) high sensory quality, acceptable fish products that meet food safety standards and dietary needs for a healthy life. MARINALGAE4aqua will exploit cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable production and processing technologies to produce algal biomass suitable for inclusion in aquafeeds. MARINALGAE4aqua is innovative and cutting edge - it adopts a multidisciplinary approach, integrating molecular (genomics, proteomics) and traditional tools to address physiological, nutritional and environmental challenges in modern aquaculture – providing state-of the-art knowledge to identify strategies to increase efficiency of farming important European fish species.