Norwegian aquaculture research institute Nofima launched European Union (EU)-funded €8 million ($9 million) AquaVitae project joining over 36 partners from across 16 countries around the Atlantic to increase low-trophic species production.

“The main way we can maintain existing production and increase high trophic production on top of that is to focus on low-trophic species production,” Nofima Senior Scientist Philip James told IntraFish.

Partners will work together over the next 4 years to increase sustainable aquaculture production of low-trophic species in or around the Atlantic. The five value chains include macroalgae, Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA), echinoderm species, shellfish and finfish.

The inspiration for the project comes from the 2017 Food from the Oceans report, which addresses the need to expand low-trophic aquaculture to sustainably source food and feed.

Partners will study whether and which markets are prepared to consume low-trophic species as well as looking at consumer preferences on prices.

Multiple species and 11 different case studies from the five different value chains will be studied over the next year. One example is shellfish, which is considered an extractive species rather than a species that adds nutrients to the environment.

After a year, all of the case studies’ coordinators will come back with a prototype of a species they are willing to produce or the process they are studying, which will then be evaluated and assessed for environmental impact, socio-economic benefits and consumer safety and preference, James said.

The total budget for the project slightly exceeds the funding received by the European Union because some non-EU partners have also received funding.

“The overarching objective is to create trends that benefit research development links between three bone statement countries, European, Brazilian and South African countries,” James said.