The farming of sea bass and sea bream is an important sector in the Mediterranean, contributing significantly to wealth and job creation in rural and coastal areas. Sea bream and sea bass are by volume the third (36.4%) and fourth (28.15%) most farmed fish species in the EU, and their collective value (€1.04 Billion) surpasses that of salmon (€780 M), trout (€550 M) or mussel farming (€490 M) (SOURCE: FEAP.INFO). However, in recent years, there has been growing concern regarding the lack of growth and improvement in Mediterranean marine fish farming.
The RBI scientists are partners on this project, coordinated by the University of Thessaly, Greece, along with 27 other partners from 10 different countries, encompassing a wide range of technical expertise and know-how in the field of Mediterranean aquaculture.
"It is important to note that the PerformFISH project has direct support and endorsement by the industry, with producers’ associations from Greece, Spain, Italy, France and Croatia directly involved as partners in the project. In this way, we ensure that research addresses the needs of the sector and that knowledge is transferred effectively to their members", emphasizes dr. sc. Roselindra Čož-Rakovac, project leader in Croatia.
The second meeting of the consortium organized by the RBI was held from 28 to 30 May 2019 in Split. The meeting was opened by the project coordinator professor Katerina Moutou of Thessaly University in Greece, while Dr Marin Roje welcomed all the participants on behalf of the Ruđer Boškoivć Institute.
"The projects has successfully passed the first major review. During the consortium meeting we discussed results and progress that had been made over the past period. We started preparing the activity plan for the third year of the project. Each work package leader presented their experience and results. We also organized a professional visit to the largest Croatian fish farm 'Cromaris' at the ‘Velo Žalo’ farm, where the leading technology experts got an insight into the methods of breeding sea bream, bass, and turbot '', explains Dr Marin Roje.
Over the next period, PerformFISH consortium will work to ensure sustainable growth of the Mediterranean aquaculture industry, based on consumer perceptions and real market requirements, while the ultimate goal of the project is to support fish farms to operate not only in ideal economic and environmental conditions, but also in a socially and culturally responsible manner.
The RBI scientists participate in the activities of the third work package thanks to the expertise and research by two RBI labs, led by Dr Rozelindra Čož-Rakovac and Dr Roje. The RBI research is aimed at improving the health of fish. Thus, one of the goals of the RBI team of scientists was to develop diagnostic methods and protocols that can be effectively applied in identifying the key causes of bacterial diseases of fish in breeding. They have been intensively investigating the methods of isolation and characterization of a biologically active molecule from the brown algae ‘Padovina pavonica’ in order to modulate the immune response in fish using the food supplement.
"By now we have developed new protocols for fast and reliable identification of pathogens that cause severe damage to the Mediterranean aquaculture. On top of that, our team has proved that the extract of brown algae 'Padina pavonica' is not teratogenic, mutagenic or genotoxic, and positively influences the immune response of the model fish. Moreover, we have found that it shows antimicrobial and antifungal potential", explains Dr Čož-Rakovac.
The PerformFISH project will run until April 2022 with an overall budget of €7.045 million. The full title of the project is ‘PerformFISH - Consumer Driven Production: Integrating Innovative Approaches for Competitive and Sustainable Performance across the Mediterranean Aquaculture Value Chain”. It is funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 funding programme, grant number 727610.
The project partners are distinguished scientists and businessmen in the field of aquaculture, including: Ruđer Bošković Institute, Cromaris Inc., Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Association of Agricultural Producers of Cultivos Marinos de Espagna, Federation of Greek Mariculture, Italian Fisheries Associations, the Economic Chamber, Agenica Estatal Consejo Superior Investigaciones Cientificas, Hellenic Center for Marine Research, National Institute of Recherche Agronomique, Centro de Ciencias do Mar, University of Crete, Univeristat Autonoma de Barcelona, University of Udine, University of Padua, SINTEF Fiskeri og Hydrobrut AS, AquaTT, AQUARK, AQUAprs Ltd, Sparos Lda, Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Syndicat Francais de l'Aquaculture Marine et Nouvelle, CNR-ISTI, Eurofish, University of Bologna, SYSAAF, Skretting Aquaculture Research Center, Cluster of the Acuiculture of Galicia.