Feed costs account for up to 60% of total production costs and inappropriate feeding management can therefore be detrimental to farmer's profits. Optimal feed management includes the use of well balanced feeds covering the species' nutritional and energy requirements and cost efficient feeding regimes. The large variation amongst generally poor industrial feed conversion ratios (FCR) obtained in European sea bass farming is a clear indication of inappropriate feeding.
The eFISHent project is a joint effort between European aquaculture stakeholders to determine a) the basic nutritional requirements of sea bass throughout the production cycle and b) best practices in feeding management and technology in order to achieve a significant reduction in production FCR values. Specifically, the optimum dietary protein and energy levels which are crucial parameters for effective feed formulation will be determined for European sea bass and evaluated on the farm using the latest demand feeding technology.
The cost efficient use of diets with formulations targeting the specific seasonal and developmental needs of the fish will improve production FCR and have a significant economic benefit for aquaculturists. Optimising feed management and feed utilization efficiency will have positive impacts upon bio-economic production performance, fish welfare and will reduce the environmental impacts of cage farming in the Mediterranean.
Researchers at Nofima have key roles in eFISHent and will lead 3 work packages. Katerina Kousoulaki will lead the work on feed formulation in partnership with the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR) and Viking Fish Farms Ltd. Chris Noble will lead the work on optimising feed management strategies and technologies in partnership with Akvaplan-niva, the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR), NESNE Electronics and Viking Fish Farms Ltd. All research partners will work in close co-operation with the farming, aquaculture technology and feed manufacturing SMEs: Feed Control Norge AS, Norway; Özsu Balik Üretim ve Malzemeleri Gida Sanayi ve Ticaret Ltd. Sti., Turkey; Raanan Fish Feed, Israel and ANONYMOS ETAIREIA ANTIPROSOPEION EMPORIOU KAI VIOMICHANIAS (ANCO), Greece to maximise the outputs of the project and commercially validate the research in an operational setting. Senior scientists Bjørn-Steinar Sæther and Sissel Albrektsen will also advise on feed formulation, raw material processing and feed management issues.