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Aquaculture Europe Blog: Aller Aqua goes it alone in China

Aquaculture Europe kicks off in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and IntraFish will bring you the latest news from the showfloor as well as full coverage on conference talks, keep checking back for updates.

Thursday, Oct. 18, 17:19 p.m. CET

Will the industry manage to eliminate live feed in hatcheries?

Ten months into BioMar’s hatchery feed range launch the company is well into the development of product lines to ensure better larvae and fry performance.

The company produced hatchery feed prior to the launch, but it has now implemented a complete line of products both for fish and shrimp farming.

“There is a very strong R&D department and presence in farming countries, and we have technical support teams in all our key markets,” Joana Amaral, product manager at BioMar’s marine hatcheries division told IntraFish.

Looking for the Holy Grail in larvae feed, the marine species division continues efforts to replace live feed, something that no-one has figured out yet.

“Marine fish larvae is very fragile and small, as opposed to freshwater fish larvae, and it continues to be a challenge to eliminate the use of live organisms in the larvae-feed phase.”

Larvae feeds naturally from microalgae and other microorganisms found in plankton, but doesn’t necessarily prefer rotifers and artemia, the microorganisms that feed producers use for their product, and which they have to enrich, in order to achieve the levels of fatty acids the fish need.

“The main challenge is that these microorganisms also need feeding, to feed live feed organisms, we use the nutrients that will also improve the performance of the larvae,” Amaral said.

The BioMar Larviva range covers live feed fish, and larvae feed, using probiotic ingredients approved by European Food Safety Authorities.

Another challenge in hatchery feed production is reducing deformity rates in larvae, which is highly connected to the feed, among other factors, something the feed giant is also focusing on.

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Thursday, Oct. 18, 14:48 p.m. CET

Aller Aqua begins lone-venture in China

Danish fish feed producer Aller Aqua is ready for the official opening of its new plant in Qingdao at the end of the month, although it has already started operations there.

Hans Erik Bylling, the group’s CEO, told IntraFish they are alone in this venture, with no Chinese partners, which has made the path a bit rougher for the company.

“We have been selling product to China for about 20 years, but actually, building a plant there has taken longer than the construction of any other of our plants,” Bylling said.

“We have had to go through the Chinese jungle of regulations to be able to start.”

The plant will have a capacity of 45,000 to 50,000 metric tons of feed, and is expected to set the company’s hub for Asian markets.

Until now, all Aller Aqua’s feed to Asia was coming from Denmark, but operations will be switched to the Qingdao factory straight away.

The company will continue to source its raw material from current suppliers, mainly in Europe.

“It is hard to find local raw material, and if we found it we would have to screen it and test it in our European facilities,” he said.

The idea is that the plant is operated as it is in Europe, that’s why the company chose to embark on this on its own, and has hired a European team that is knowledgeable of the practices in the continent.

“It will all be done according to European standards, I think we’re the only ones to install our operations there without any local partnership, but that way we can ensure that we continue to supply the same product of the past 20 years, without being affected by someone else’s way of working,” Bylling said.

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Thursday, Oct. 18, 12:30 p.m. CET

South African trout producer looks out to global markets

Mpumalanga-based trout producer Lunksklip is increasing its client portfolio in other countries for its egg production, Stephan van der Merwe, CEO of the company, told IntraFish. Lunksklip -- a family-ran business with over three decades in the trout production sector in SouthAfrica -- recently took over trout egg producer Trova, the biggest in the country, becoming a fully integrated farmer.

Although Lunkslip sells the 250 metric tons of trout it produces a year to domestic markets -- and is not looking to expand -- the acquisition of the egg producer has put them on a position to increase its international reach.

"We have broodstock producing 40 million eggs a year, and we are targeting trout producers around the world to sell our product," said van der Merwe.

One of the best assets is the weather in South Africa, which in winter -- from May to September -- falls to low temperatures, which allows the company to produce eggs in cold water and sell them in the north hemisphere summer months.

"And because of the genetics of the fish and the high temperatures in South Africa during the rest of the year, our fingerlings are more resistant to the warm waters of northern countries in summer," he said.

The company already sells fingerlings and eggs to farmers in Kenya, Lebanon and Iran via airfreight, and plans to expand to other countries including Turkey, Romania, Georgia and Russia.

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Thursday, Oct. 18, 11:50 a.m. CET

Spanish bass, bream farmer in expansion project

Spanish seabream and seabass farmer Culmarex is working on an expansion project after starting operations in its facility in Almeria in May this year.

The company has farming sites in Almeria, Murcia and Valencia, and farms around 20,000 metric tons of sea bream and sea bass a year -- mostly sea bass -- for domestic markets and for exports to Portugal, France, Germany, and the United States.

Although the prices of Turkish product continue to put “significant pressure” on Spanish companies, the company is at full capacity and is planning to grow.

In its plant in Almeria, Culmarex produces 4,000 metric tons a year.

In addition, fish farmers in Spain are starting to introduce technology, “there is interest, but it is not as crucial for sea bream and sea bass farmers in the Mediterranean as it is for salmon farmers in Norway,” an exec with the company said.

At the moment, the company is looking into the introduction of cameras to monitor feeding at the cages and sensors to control water temperature and oxygen levels.

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Thursday, Oct. 18, 9:50 a.m. CET

Keep digging for gold

It's no secret, bluefin tuna fishers and aquaculture experts around the world have attempted and failed in many occasions to farm the highly valued fish.

Ranching is, so far, the closest anyone has gotten to cultivating bluefin on a commercial scale, despite having achieved the goal of closing the cycle, it has never been possible to completely farm the species with major issues always impeding the process.

Fernando de la Gandara, from the Murcia Oceanographic Center, in Spain, told delegates at Aquaculture Europe their research and technological development (RTD) facility could really take bluefin tuna farming to the next level.

"We are able to obtain spawning in captivity, but there are problems -- the spawning time, for instance, is too short, only one and a half months," said de la Gandara.

"The weather during that period is very bad with strong currents, and we cannot collect eggs from the cages, because they're released outside."

Other major problem is the mix-up with eggs of other species, in many cases of predatory species.

"This is dangerous for the tuna, because it is in the same cage as their predator, making survival very difficult."

In 2015, the Institute created a Infrastructure for the Control of Bluefin Tuna Reproduction (ICRA) to guarantee the supply of tuna eggs.

At the moment, the Oceanographic Center is running, and there is high-tech equipment monitoring water temperatures and oxygen remotely in cages.

"One of the main objectives of the center is to contribute to the sustainable production of bluefin tuna by means of full aquaculture cycle, and completely independent from wild catches," de la Gandara said.

Although the formula to overcome the different challenges has not been found yet, he concluded the only way of promoting the recovery of wild stocks and take it to the high levels seen in the past will be with closed life production.

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Wednesday, Oct. 18, 14:39 p.m. CET

RAS leads growth

Malta-based biotechnology group AquaBioTech has quadrupled its capacity over the past two years. The company, which designed and supplied the equipment and tanks for Coppens’ recently revamped research center, has other big projects in the pipeline.

It is currently working on the construction of a hatchery in Dubai funded by the United Arab Emirates that is expected to be ready by Nov. 2018.

The hatchery will be added to an existing hatchery in the same area, and the total capacity of both sites will be 16 million juveniles of six different species.

“There’s many reasons for the growth in recirculated water systems (RAS), technology is better understood now, costs are down, and of course there is always the aim to grow the fish to a bigger size on land and reduce exposure at sea,” Shane. A Hunter, technical director at the company, told IntraFish.

The group has four different divisions, of which RAS development is the most important, but at the moment, working on full fish grow-out systems on land is not part of their plans.

In addition to the hatchery in Dubai, the company is also working with other 11 partners in a projectco-funded by the European Union in Kenya.

The role of AquaBio Tech is to design and provide the equipment for the hatchery, in a project that aims to prove that clean water can be used in aquaculture and to promote fish farming.

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Wednesday, Oct. 18, 10:05 a.m. CET

Sea bream not quite ready for algae meal

There is still much to be done in the field before the sea bream industry is ready to implement algae and insect-based feed as a replacement for traditional fishmeal.

A study by researchers of the Centre of Marine Science in Portugal monitoring energy and protein retention, fish voluntary feed intake, growth, and fish conversion ratio (FCR) of sea bream eating four different meal ingredients -- control diet, PAP, plants, and algae and insect-based diets -- showed the results:

In sea bream farming, PAP diets and plants-based diets show higher growth rates, protein and energy retention and similar voluntary intake of the fish than the control diet. The downside is the FCR.

On the other hand, algae and insect-based diets resulted in a better FCR, but lower growth, and lower energy and protein retention. The fish intake of the feed was at similar levels.

“There is potential to minimize environmental impacts using PAP and plant diets,” said researcher Claudia Aragao, head of the study.

“While there is potential sustainable resources in algae and insect-based meals, we definitely need more detailed studies to optimize inclusion levels of these ingredients and better processing technologies.”

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Wednesday, Oct. 18, 8:02 a.m. CET

The only solution for homo sapiens

The Aquaculture Europe convention kicked off in Dubrovnik with a master class in human brain composition from Professor Michael A. Crawford, from the Imperial College of London.

There are great misunderstandings about fat contents, a lack of knowledge about the differences between storage fat and structural essential fats, and also a misplaced worry over the need for protein content in food.

"Human evolution is dependent on the brain, not on body building, and the brain developed in the sea 500 million years ago, with Omega-3 fatty acids only found in marine ingredients that are still essential nowadays," Crawford said.

"Nearly 60 percent of our brain is fat, we require long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA to enable us to say, to think, to do everything we do as human beings."

Crawford was blunt on his outlook: the only sustainable solution for homo sapiens is to agriculturalize the seas and oceans; DHA is absolutely irreplaceable in brain structure and function, and the primary source is fish and the sea.

The industrial revolution of marine agriculture is absolutely necessary for the survival and well-being of homo sapiens.

During his talk, Crawford gave evidence of the links between marine ingredient-deficient diets during pregnancy and its repercussion in cortical development of the fetus, and warned brain retardation risk driven by a lack of fatty acids is present in inland countries and villages with little access to fish.

"If people could develop land agriculture 15,000 years ago for their survival, for Heaven's Sake, we should be able to do it now with our oceans, it may be the only solution," he said.

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