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Aquaculture is a growth international industry and doctors recommend its products as beneficial to human health. Farmed fish are fed largely on fish meal and fish oils – marine products that can contain toxic pollutants and whose extraction can impoverish the marine environment. It would therefore be an advantage to develop vegetable-based fish feeds that would be safer and more sustainable, provided that they could be shown to be good for both the fish and the people that eat them, and acceptable to the general public.

Project profile

The Integrated Project AquaMax unites an international team of experts on seafood and nutrition from Europe, India and China in a wide-ranging search for a variety of sustainable alternative fish feeds that will produce healthy and nutritious farmed fish. It will develop innovative toxicity tests and conduct health trials with pregnant women and infants to assess the health benefits of the fish that eat the new feeds. The project will also assess consumer opinion on farmed fish and provide information on its nutritional value.

International aspects

Fish are farmed in many countries, with the fish feed and products being traded internationally. Improving aquaculture practice will benefit the health of the global population and the marine environment which is, by nature, supranational.

Socio-economic significance

AquaMax will have the following long-term socio-economic impact:

  • It will reduce the use of fish fry for making fish feed, thereby benefiting the marine environment
  • It will help to optimise conditions for aquaculture
  • It will support the production of nutritious fish that is safe and healthy to eat
  • It will help to safeguard the future of the international aquaculture industry
  • Overall, it will improve the health of Europe’s citizens and the global marine environment

Scientific significance

The project will contribute to the following scientific areas:

  • Definition of a range of feeds of vegetable origin, for farmed salmon, sea bass and bream in particular, to meet the needs of each species and its nutritional content as human food
  • The development of powerful DNA chips to monitor the growth, health and welfare of farmed fish
  • Development of feeding strategies to tailor the farmed product to meet specific human health requirements
  • Innovative toxicity tests to assess whether novel feeds can control key toxicants in farmed fish
  • Assessment of the health benefits of fish produced with new feeds on pregnant women and infants

Project outcomes

  • Better understanding of the relationship between the nutrition of farmed fish and the quality of the product
  • Reducing the risk of toxic contamination from marine fish feed reaching the human food chain
  • A better understanding of the action of key toxicants in aquaculture to contribute to a comprehensive risk/benefit analysis of farmed fish
  • Benefits to fresh- and salt-water fish farming to be integrated into the European Research Area
  • Training and technology transfer to INCO partners

Basic project information

  • Acronym: AquaMax
  • Full project title: Sustainable aquafeeds to maximise the health benefits of farmed fish for consumers
  • Duration: 48 months
  • Starting year: 2006
  • EU funding: €10 million
  • FP6 instrument used: Integrated Project
  • Project coordinator:
    Oyvind Lie
    National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research,
    Bergen, Norway
  • Third country partner(s) involved:
    Indian Council of Agricultural Research (India)
    Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety (China)
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