Research
Do wild salmon interact with farmed salmon? If so, how often?  These are just some of the questions that a new project hopes to answer to determine why wild salmon populations are declining.

The $500,000 study launched by New Brunswick’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans is in cooperation with the aquaculture industry. It involves establishing 24 receiver sites on Passamaquoddy Bay and the river system. Sixty young salmon were tagged in the river system and then released. Those tags trip a sensor in the receivers when the fish swim within range. That information will inform scientists whether wild salmon are in fact interacting with farmed salmon in open-net pens and how often.

“There are concerns about the potential transfer of disease from wild salmon to aquaculture, but also the potential for transfer of disease from aquaculture to wild salmon,” DFO researcher Marc Trudel told Global News.

With this being a pilot project, it’s not known how long it will take to gather the needed information, or how that data may shape future policies, Trudel added.
First wine, now whisky.

A startup that’s developing aquaculture feed made with byproducts from the whisky distilling process has attracted roughly $671,600 (£500,000) in investment.

The company, MiAlgae, uses by-products from the distilling process to grow Omega 3-rich algae for feeding farmed salmon.

 Douglas Martin founded the company while a masters student at the University of Edinburgh in 2015-16. He said he wanted to revolutionize the animal and fish feed industries with microalgae that come from whisky.

The investment, in equal shares from Equity Gap, the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scotland’s enterprise agencies, and the University’s venture fund Old College Capital, will enable the company to expand its team and build a pilot plant for its technology at a whisky distillery.

"This investment will fund the initial scale-up steps and de-risk our commercial facility. It certainly sets us on track to achieve our ambitions," Martin said.

Earlier, in Australia, an aquaculture feed made with grape marc – skins, pulp, seeds, and stems left over after wine is made – has shown promising results in lab trials.
Both produce similar levels of off-flavor in catfish, study shows
Marine Harvest has applied for development licenses to test semi-closed technology concepts as it continues to seek new and innovative solutions for the aquaculture industry.
A new study on the effects of Piscine Reovirus (PRV) on wild salmon has met with criticism from experts.
Findings of three-year on-farm demonstration study entice Eastern seaboard oyster farms to begin adapting flip-bag technology


Oyster aquaculture in the United States has rapidly expanded in the past 20 years, and oyster cup shape, as well as taste, is critical to the consumer. Deeper cups are preferred because they suggest a higher volume of meat.

Cup shape can be manipulated through handling practices – the more an oyster is handled, the more new linear shell growth gets broken off, leading to the formation of a deeper cup. Some oyster farmers use a method of breaking off new growth by placing oysters in a “tumbling” device once in a while. A more convenient alternative is the relatively new “flip-bag” system, a conventional plastic mesh bag designed to rotate with the rise and fall of the tide, tumbling the oysters automatically.

While the flip bag method has been a big success on the West Coast, it has yet to make a big impact with growers on the East Coast. A small research project at Rogers Williams University in Rhode Island a few years ago showed that flip bags resulted in oysters of excellent quality, so the technology was further studied in a research project from 2014 to 2017 as part of a bigger plan to develop a Northeast Aquaculture Research Farm Network (NARF-Net) through on-farm demonstration projects. The use of NARF-Net “provided an excellent opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of using tide-tumbled flip bags to produce superior grade oysters on New England farms,” states the final study report, released in July 2017.

The study evaluated three styles of flip bags (Seapa, BST and ADPI bags) in terms of the grade and meat quality of the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) compared to traditional rack and bag and floating culture systems.

The research team found that the flip bag system produces an oyster with higher meat content than a conventionally farmed oyster. “The application of flip bag culture yields a slower-growing but higher grade oyster, compared to traditional culture methods, with a large volume of edible tissue, which may lend itself to a higher market value,” states the final report. It cautions, however, that “careful consideration of site selection and space utilization is critical in successful application of the flip bag system.”

As of July 2017, the researchers were aware of two East Coast oyster farms (that had participated in the study) using the flip-bag system “with numerous more farms considering it.”

The study also included evaluation of artificial media to grow quahogs. The research team found preliminary evaluations “promising from a technical standpoint, where clam growth and survival was equivalent between quahogs held in oyster bags versus those reared infaunally in native substrate. However, the team said the lack of a suitable artificial substrate in terms of handling weight “precludes the use of this technology in its current form on commercial farms.”





A Baltimore, Maryland startup has come up with a novel way of battling Viral Nervous Necrosis (VNN), a disease that affects over 40 aquaculture species worldwide.

Dr Ken Malone, CEO of startup VakSea Inc, says the aquaculture industry’s big problem has not been the absence of effective vaccine, rather, it is in the way those vaccines are delivered.

“Current methods of delivering vaccines to fish involves injecting fish with vaccine one by one, which is expensive, labor intensive, and stressful to the fish,” says Malone.

VakSea grows the vaccine inside insect larvae, grinds up the larvae, mixes it into fish feed, then feeds it directly to the fish. When the fish eats the feed, they become immune to the disease.

The startup’s proprietary vaccine technology was developed at the University of Maryland Baltimore County in the lab of Dr Vik Vakharia beginning in 2014. VakSea filed a provisional patent application in 2016. It is now developing a pellet-based vaccine aimed at protecting European seabass juveniles from VNN and hopes to get it to market over the next 12 to 18 months.

VNN “damages the central nervous system in susceptible fish species and typically affect younger stages of fish (larvae, fry, fingerlings), although older, market-size fish can be affected as well, with losses ranging from 15–100 percent,” according to University of Florida-IFAS Extension researcher Roy P. E. Yanong, in his paper Viral Nervous Necrosis (Betanodavirus) Infections in Fish.

“Infected larvae and juvenile stages often show abnormal swimming behaviour, including vertical positioning and spinning; flexing of the body,” he wrote.

Species susceptible to VNN include red drum, cobia, sea bass, barramundi, gilthead seabream, Pacific bluefin tuna, various grouper species, various flatfish species including halibut and Japanese flounder, and tilapia.

Malone is confident of the potential of VakSea’s proprietary vaccine technology in other species. “We’ve proven it out on the nervous necrosis virus and we know it’s going to work on a large number of species and a large number of other diseases,” he says.



There’s plenty of environmentally suitable areas around the world for marine aquaculture but factors other than space availability could limit its development, a study suggests.

The study, Global estimation of areas with suitable environmental conditions for mariculture species, defined “suitable areas” as those that can support the physiological needs of farmed species for sustainable mariculture production.

The study estimates that 72,000,000 km2 of ocean would be environmentally suitable to farm one or more species. About 92 percent of the predicted area or 66,000,000 km2 is environmentally suitable for farming finfish, 43 percent or 31,000,000 km2 for molluscs and 54 percent or 39,000,000 km2 for crustaceans.

The University of British Columbia study team, led by Muhammed A. Oyinlola, suggests that suitable mariculture areas along the Atlantic coast of South America and West Africa appear to be most under-utilized for farming.

“Our results suggest that factors other than environmental considerations are currently limiting the potential for mariculture expansion in many areas,” says the study.

The limiting factors include: the socio-economics of producing countries, including capacity and political instability; technology, its availability and cost effectiveness; trades; aqua feed availability; aquaculture development-related policies and competition for space within countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs), for instance — shipping, oil and gas, as well as tourism — all play major roles in the development of mariculture operations and their future expansion.

The results reflect those of an earlier study, Mapping the global potential for marine aquaculture, conducted by UC Santa Barbara researcher Rebecca Gentry, et al.

After 10 years of research Nofima scientists have finally “cracked the code” to produce sterile farmed salmon.

 Inducing sterility in farmed salmon will make them unable to interact genetically with wild salmon populations.

"In practice we don’t touch the genes, but affect a protein that is necessary to enable the fish to produce gametes,” said senior researcher Helge Tveiten.

They have not seen any indications that the fish will become sexually mature or develop the urge to migrate in order to spawn.

Paving the way for the research was a previous study carried out on zebra fish, which identified a few genes that are decisive in the development of gametes.

“The salmon we have researched do not develop gametes, and will never be sexually mature,” Tveiten added. “We see a tiny egg sac in the female fish, but no eggs are formed. The male fish develops what appears to be normal sexual organs, but they don’t have sperm cells.”

Tveiten’s work is part of the SalmoSterile research project financed by the Research Council of Norway. The project is a collaboration between the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (NIMR) and several major industrial companies, including AquaGen.

A scientist at Fisheries Oceans Canada (DFO) has developed a diagnostic tool that could be used to rapidly diagnose early signs of infectious disease in fish.
Microalgae are promising alternatives to fishmeal but their limited availability and high price prevent feed industry from using them, according to a Norwegian study.
A study translated into dollars and cents the economic gains from various seafood labels, including “certified organic” and locally grown.
Researchers at Auburn University are ready to field-test a vaccine against the deadly columnaris disease that can affect nearly all freshwater fish species and causes millions of dollars in annual losses in catfish aquaculture alone.

Lab trials over the past seven years have shown the Auburn vaccine has outperformed the only vaccine currently available on the market, the researchers said. It also targets the two types of bacteria that cause columnaris disease, Type I and the more destructive and more prevalent Type II. Currently available vaccine on the market addresses only Type I.

In vaccine trials of Nile tilapia and catfish, the vaccine increased survival rates by 66 and 17 percent, respectively, over the currently available vaccine, reported the Auburn University College of Agriculture paper.

Field-testing of the vaccine is funded by a $321,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture. It will take place in 400 acres of Auburn University ponds.

“At this point in our research, we need data on a larger scale to successfully commercialize the vaccine,” research team leader Cova Arias told the Alabama Newscenter. “We will use this most recent grant to fulfill our gap of information.”

Responding to strong market demand for sea cucumbers in China, Alaska- and Washington-based researchers are developing hatchery and grow-out techniques for the indigenous giant red sea cucumber (Parastichopus californicus).

Farmed salmon contains fewer environmental pollutants than its wild counterpart, according to a Norwegian study that’s been described as the biggest research of its kind so far. The study involved 100 samples of wild salmon caught in the sea in Northern Norway, and 100 samples of farmed salmon.

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