Looking out for Calanus to feed fish

This week saw the kick-off of the CliN-BluFeed project, which aims to develop methodologies to boost the Calanus fishery in the Norwegian Sea.
CliN-BluFeed project kick-off meeting.

On the screen representatives from partners AIR Centre, C.S.C.S., IOPAN, and CliN-BluFeed project leader, Akvaplan-niva. In the room from the left Pierre Priou, Kanchana Bandara, and Conrad Helgeland, all Akvaplan-niva.

Photo: Trude Borch / Akvaplan-niva.

Funded by Horizon Europe, Sustainable Blue Economy Partnership (SBEP), the project 'A low-CO2 smart autonomous multiplatform system to monitor and forecast Calanus finmarchicus stock - a new sustainable climate-neutral blue fish feed' started this week.

Known as the CliN-BluFeed project and led by Akvaplan-niva, its main objective is to develop methodologies to boost the Calanus fishery in the Norwegian Sea. This tiny copepod is a key food source for most fish species in the seas around Norway, and also a climate-neutral blue resource for the aquaculture industry.

Making the most of technologies and AI

To develop those methodologies, the CliN-BluFeed project aims to harness the potential of cutting-edge, autonomous marine monitoring technologies, together with remote sensing, artificial intelligence (AI), simulation modeling, and experimental investigations.

Therefore, at the first working meeting held this week, besides making a comprehensive review of the different tasks of the project, the participants also raised the approach for the next scientific cruise to the Lofoten and Vesterålen area, in Norway. There, by applying new sampling technologies, important data for the project will be collected.

This first encounter was a hybrid meeting and involved all partner institutions. Led by Akvaplan-niva's Digital Manager, Lionel Camus, its partners in the project are Cyprus Subsea Consulting and Services (C.S.C.S.), the Atlantic International Research Center (AIR Centre in Portugal), IOPAN (Poland), and the Alfred Wegener Institute (Germany).

An ultra-efficient and abundant feed source

Calanus (Calanus finmarchicus) is an attractive feed source as it contains important fatty acids of great relevance to fish health in salmon farming. Described as "an ultra-efficient feed source for fish and shrimp" by Calanus nutrition specialist Zooca®, in 2022 the company signed a strategic feed supply agreement with Skretting Norway and Andfjord Salmon to increase its use in salmon feed. The Norwegian land-based salmon farming company was the first to use it as a commercially developed feed ingredient.

Moreover, Calanus is estimated to have a biomass of 33 million tons. However, despite its abundance in the seas surrounding Norway, it has historically not been targeted by the country's fishing industry. The Norwegian Government has been trying for years to increase interest in this fishery by opening it up to commercial licensing and setting generous catch quotas, but uptake remains slow. According to a Nofima study last summer, it is probably a question of profitability.

If the CliN-BluFeed project achieves its goal of developing methodologies to boost the Calanus fishery in the Norwegian Sea, this situation could change, benefiting the fishing, feed, and aquaculture industries. The former would have an abundant resource to exploit, the second a raw material offering fatty acids of great importance to fish health in farming, and as a consequence of this feed, the latter would achieve a more sustainable production.

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