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Sustainable food for better aquaculture

To develop a new vegetal food for aquaculture based on flax as a source of omega 3. The result of this project would also be a new quality label for enhanced fish nutritional content (especially n-3 fatty acid well known as 'omega 3') and sustainable aquaculture.

Nowadays, fish consumption is becoming more and more important worldwide. One of the reasons for this growing interest in fish is due to a healthy vision of this product. Aquatic products are seen as an important source of positive nutritional contents, especially n-3 essential fatty acids, commonly known as omega 3. The wild fish proportion of overall fish production and consumption is decreasing year after year. Aquaculture represented 27.1% of fish production in 2000, this proportion rising to 33.8% in 2005 for a global volume of 141.6 millions tons. Aquaculture is replacing traditional fishing for many species; wild salmon for example represents less than 5% of the commercial offer in FRANCE. Freshwater aquaculture represents 87% of total fish farming production, especially in Asia with carps and tilapias. This evolution has created two major problems concerning aquaculture: this production is not sustainable and fish nutritional qualities are not as good as their wild counterparts. Linked with these two problems, another issue is that consumers are not informed about this. Indeed, in aquaculture, most of the fish are fed at least partly with fish meal and fish oil. This comes from fishing small species transformed in food and oil for fish farms. This causes major damage to marine resources, due to massive harvesting methods and to limited stock amounts. At the same time, prices are getting higher every year because of a growing shortage of the resource and increasing demand. Studies show that this type of fishing is devastating resources and is not sustainable. Aquaculture can not simply stop using fish meal and fish oil given its importance as a source of n-3 fatty acids for farmed fishes. The last problem with this type of food is ethical; some vegetarian fish are also fed with fish meal. Contrary to what people generally think, farmed fish nutritional content is not as good as it is for wild fish. As regards n-3 fatty acids, the ratio between normal and essential fatty acid is the only indicator of good nutritional content. Farmed fish contains more fat than wild fish but contains more normal fat as well, which is not particularly healthy. Fish nutritional quality is very closely linked with alimentation, as you will need 2 or 3 kilograms of food to produce 1 kilogram of salmon for example. Studies already show that food is very important for fish final composition. The goal is first of all to determine how it is possible to improve n-3 fatty acid content in farmed fish by replacing at least partly fish meal with vegetable meal based on linseed (flax). The main goal is to develop a new food for aquaculture based on linseed use. This new product would be a natural and renewable source of n-3 fatty acid for farmed fish. At the same time, a new fish production procedure would be developed to ensure that consumers receive good nutritional quality (especially enhanced in n-3 fatty acids), and production respectful of the fish and also the environment and marine resources. Experimentation will be conducted on different fish species: freshwater, sea, vegetarians and piscivore. Nutritional quality analysis will then be performed to measure n-3 fatty acids and the impact of linseed and food on fish metabolism depending on the species. An acceptability study will be done to consumers and resellers. A consortium will then develop a new product (and associated technologies) for aquaculture and a feeding procedure that would synthesise the first experimentation. This new product will be validated by new tests. A quality certification program for aquaculture will be developed to promote this new product. This program would ensure that the fish content n-3 fatty acids and the fish have been grown in a healthy environment in good conditions. Finally, results will be proposed for validation to a scientific committee at every stage of the project.
Acronym: 
NEMO
Project ID: 
4 934
Start date: 
01-02-2009
Project Duration: 
35months
Project costs: 
720 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Aquaculture technology
Market Area: 
Animal Husbandry

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.