Industry & UGent innovate together aquaculture sector

 BlueMarine³.Com will develop integrated, ecosystem-based hatchery techniques, a so-called "integrated multi-species approach". (large view)

BlueMarine³.Com will develop integrated, ecosystem-based hatchery techniques, a so-called "integrated multi-species approach".

(05-02-2020) Six Flemish companies and Ghent University together tackle the challenges of local aquaculture production.

Six Flemish companies and Ghent University join forces to tackle the challenges of local aquaculture production and to stimulate innovation, with special attention to the local conditions in Flanders. The partners have complementary expertise in species groups, available facilities and different positions in the value chain of aquaculture, which reinforces the added value of the cooperation.

 

Local production is more ecological, but also offers opportunities to grow different varieties together. All recent initiatives, however, face the same problems, namely a lack of sufficient, high-quality starting material (traces of seaweed, seed of shellfish, post larvae of shrimp, etc.). The knowledge to grow seaweed, crustaceans and shellfish is widely available in Flanders, but spread over various research groups and companies. Moreover, there is still a lot of room for innovation, both technologically and biologically.

 

Led by Dr. ir. Margriet Drouillon, business developer of the IOF consortium BLUeGent, BlueMarine³.Com will develop integrated, ecosystem-based hatchery techniques, with a strong emphasis on developing synergies between species, infrastructure, breeding techniques and management, a so-called 'integrated multi-species approach' . This project aims at establishing a (multispecies) hatchery pilot installation, which can stimulate further innovation and the development of more large-scale hatchery initiatives.

 

The three Ghent University groups involved offer extensive expertise in different areas. For example, the Phycology Lab is an expert in the life cycle management and genetics of seaweed, while the Laboratory for Aquaculture & ARC specializes in breeding techniques for fish and shellfish and GhEnToxLab has extensive knowledge of aquatic ecology and environmental impact. Several of the private partners are also involved in aquaculture projects in the North Sea and have a direct interest in good starting material for their projects and future activities. For example, SIOEN produces textiles on which seaweed can be developed. IMAQUA, a Ghent University spin-off, has extensive experience in shrimp farming and has additional facilities. Proviron developed bioreactors on a commercial scale for the cultivation of microalgae for feeding bivalves and shrimp and wants to further innovate its products and tailor them to the specific needs of the hatchery industry. Colruyt Group wants to invest in aqua heating to bring locally grown, sustainable fish products to the market. DEME Group wants to combine aquaculture with its offshore activities.

 

The government also sees salvation in the local production of aquatic products, certainly if this is combined with other Blue Growth activities. BlueMarine³.Com is a Blue Cluster ICON project, financed by VLAIO and runs from October 1, 2019 to December 31, 2022.