Contract no. 286200

Period 01.01.2012 – 29.06.2014.

Coordinator: Albert K. Imsland, Akvaplan-niva AS, Framsenteret, 9296 Tromsø, Norway

Contact:albert.imsland@akvaplan.niva.no

Innovation to meet challenges and opportunities

Competitive market

The European aquaculture production sector, which is dominated by a few fish species has expanded extensively over the last decade. Along with expansion this sector has come under growing pressure with increasing competition from Southeast Asia, consumers’ focus on low prices, cost-conscious supermarkets and calls from NGOs and supermarkets to improve fish welfare. The aquaculture chain in Europe will be forced by these developments to promote diversification of species and to meet demands for fish welfare. In the case of turbot (Scophthalmus maximus = Psetta maxima), companies will need to optimize their aquaculture practices with respect to economics and fish welfare, establish control measures and quality assurance of improved processes with respect to welfare.

Challenges to the industry

Aquaculture of turbot has, however, not expanded at the same rate despite the fact that this species and other flatfish species have been regarded as prime candidates for aquaculture. This is due to very space demanding production, where a traditional turbot farm requires approximately 2000 m2 of land for each 100 tonnes of yearly production. In addition, this production is very labour intensive, and has inefficient logistic solutions for large scale production. Thus, there is a need for new technology and more knowledge of the life history for this specie to increase the cost efficiency on the production. These constraints have clearly slowed down the diversification of the European aquaculture industry into the land-based farming of flatfish.

High upside potential

Turbot has been identified as one of the most promising candidates for marine aquaculture, with several characteristics that make it an interesting species for commercial growers and European consumers. The species has tremendous potential as an aquaculture species, but many of its attributes are currently underutilized. These characteristics include; high growth rate, low mortality, high food conversion efficiency, moderate stress responses to handling operations, moderate water quality requirements, good taste, a very long shelf life and high adaptability to a range of environmental conditions. The project will define the optimal rearing strategy of turbot; identify specifications for stunning of turbot in practice; evaluate the economic implications of the improved aquaculture practices and quality assurance with respect to monitoring and safeguarding turbot welfare. Sole is fast becoming an important European aquaculture species, but basic specification for stunning and slaughter are currently non-existent.

Covering the entire value chain

World-wide developments concerning aquaculture show the need for innovation of at the level of SMEs in the European aquaculture sector in order to respond to increasing competition from Southeast Asia, consumers’ focus on low prices, cost-conscious supermarkets and calls from NGOs and supermarkets to improve fish welfare.  MAXIMUS aims to further strengthen the competitiveness of producers of farmed turbot at every level of production through the determination of the optimal rearing environment for farmed turbot, identify specifications for stunning in practice, an evaluation of economic implications of the improved aquaculture practices and quality assurance with respect to monitoring and safeguarding turbot welfare during rearing and at slaughter.