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Sustainable fish farming through improved feeding practices: launch of EU ARRAINA project

Fish farming is booming, with worldwide aquaculture output growing faster than any other agricultural sector. To guarantee its sustainability and competitiveness, alternative ingredients must replace fish oils and fishmeal in farmed fish feed. Substantial efforts to move fish farming in this direction are already underway in the EU. ARRAINA, a EU project led by INRA, will further this work and will allow the long-term effects of this shift on the full fish lifecycle to be measured for the first time.

poissons  sur un étal de poissonnerie.
Logo  ARRAINA  ( projet européen )
By Communications Department, INRA Bordeaux-Aquitaine
Updated on 03/06/2013
Published on 03/13/2012

To satisfy the growing demand for fish that is not dependent on industrial fishing, the European Commission is seeking to develop aquaculture and keep the practice sustainable. In Europe, the main species of farmed fish are still largely fed fishmeal and fish oil derived from industrial fishing. The supply of these products is limited, however, and growing demand is driving prices up. A dependence on these products may threaten the economic and environmental viability of the aquaculture industry.

Launched on 21 February 2012* for a period of five years, the ARRAINA (Advanced research initiatives for aquaculture and nutrition) project’s main objectives are to:

  • create integrated tools to describe and predict physiological responses to alternative ingredients using a set of biomarkers (molecular markers, gene expression, metabolite concentrations, etc.) that are already available or that will be developed over the course of the project;
  • develop and verify the use of innovative nutrient delivery vectors such as microparticles, nanocapsules and sonophoresis, for the very early and spawning stages in particular;
  • further our understanding of the differing nutritional needs at the various development stages of the five main species (Atlantic salmon, carp, rainbow trout, seabass and seabream);
  • measure the long-term effects of alternative ingredients on growth, metabolism and health of these five species throughout their lifecycle, as well as their effect on quality and food safety;
  • assess the environmental impact of new ingredients by measuring their effect on feed properties and, for each species, by analysing fecal matter and other fish farm waste while taking various culture systems into account;
  • improve the use of alternative aquaculture feeds for mature fish through “nutritional programming” that would allow physiological responses to nutritional stimuli to be permanently altered in the early development stages.

INRA has been involved in several EU projects that have already proven the possibility of drastically reducing the amounts of fish oils and fishmeal in favour of vegetable matter in farmed species’ feed while maintaining the health, well-being and nutritional value of the fish. Feed substitutions may, however, lead to essential nutrient deficiencies or imbalances, or may alter fish metabolism over the course of its lifecycle. Previous work on the subject considered fish lifecycle from juvenile to market ready. The long-term effects of dietary changes to the full fish lifecycle from egg to spawner must be studied in order to determine the type of supplements that may be necessary over the course of a fish’s life.

The ARRAINA programme’s ultimate aim is to provide the data, tools and methods necessary to develop alternative feeds that meet the nutritional needs of Europe’s major farmed fish species. To accelerate the process, professional partners from both industry and from SMEs will be involved throughout the project, from definition through to innovation production. Its findings will also allow ingredients to be used flexibly and will constitute a strong foundation for the development of an EU sustainable aquaculture strategy.

EU ARRAINA project participants with Sachi Kaushik at the centre © V.Troillard
EU ARRAINA project participants with Sachi Kaushik at the centre © V.Troillard

This project is coordinated by INRA Bordeaux-Aquitaine and brings together 21 partners across Europe including ten research institutes, a feed manufacturer, eight SMEs and a company specialised in knowledge transfer.

* The project was officially started on 1 January 2012 with the launch seminar held 21-22 February 2012.

Contact(s)
Scientific contact(s):

  • Sadasivam Kaushik Nutrition, Metabolism, Aquaculture (NuMeA)