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Feeding the World, Aquaculture, Ghent University & Howest University College West Flanders

Ghent University - Since 1978 the Laboratory of Aquaculture & Artemia Reference Center (ARC) has gained a leading role in research on larviculture of fish and shellfish species of aquaculture interest. Initially, the main research effort focussed on the universally used brine shrimp Artemia as vital food source for fish and shellfish larvae, namely: brine shrimp culturing biology, natural occurrence, production techniques, strain characterisation, nutritional value and enrichment. Gradually, research activities extended into the other live food organisms, micro algae and rotifers, i.e. their production and nutritional manipulation, with main emphasis on lipids and vitamins C and E. Meanwhile, the worldwide industrialisation of larviculture demanded more thorough research on the zootechnical, microbiological and immunological aspects of larviculture. Therefore, the ARC engaged in a multidisciplinary collaboration effort with specialists from different research institutes, local and abroad, in the framework of nationally and internationally funded R&D projects. In that context, the ARC also supported the establishment of the UGent Aquaculture R&D Consortium which groups 13 departments from 3 faculties.

Howest - PTI-Kortrijk and Howest have joined forces to demonstrate that sustainable aquaculture is a viable new industrial sector with important economic potential for Flanders. We do this by scaling up laboratory scale experiments to pilot plant size with real production output. Instrumentation, monitoring and implementing optimized control schemes in all aspect of sustainable energy management and sustainable water management are of vital importance for this endeavor.
The partners’ vision about sustainable aquaculture is based on three main lines of thought:
Sustainable choice of the livestock: we only adopt species that can be grown up on a 100% vegetable diet. Normal high trophic aquaculture livestock needs 2-20 kg of fish proteins and fats (coming out of the sea) per kg production fish. Where possible we try to select species that represent a high potential added value as a marketable culinary product and that have a relatively short grow up time, which is required for economic profitability and feasible scale of operations.
Closed aquaculture system design: by integrating aquaculture and horticulture in a modified RAS/Aquaponics system setup, we are able to drastically reduce water consumption (50-75l/kg production fish). The waste from the drum filter and the bio filter (liquid plus suspended solids) is fed to a reed bed filtration and recuperated as feed water for the horticulture and aquaculture plant. The substrate fertilization of the horticulture crops uses up to 20% of aquaculture water, resulting in an effective removal of nitrates, phosphates and potassium. As such water changes and denitrification are not needed, again saving water and energy. Within this concept no hormones or antibiotics are used, resulting in the Bio Label for the aquaculture product.
Advanced monitoring and control: all energy consumption and water consumption is monitored and optimized by advanced control schemes. This system approach is fundamental in achieving economic viability.



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