Project: Developing a weaning- diet and protocol for bluefin tuna

aquaculture growth in Europe. BFT is a very high value product, and there is an extremely high demand for supply of hatchery reared juveniles. So far BFT aquaculture in Europe is based on wild-caught juveniles, a practice which is highly polemic and with high environmental costs. Successful hatchery production of BFT juveniles will strongly depend on appropriate weaning feeds specifically developed for BFT. _x000D__x000D_Mass production of reliable quality fish fry is a major bottleneck for improved performance in European Aquaculture. Problems concern variable spawning performance in terms of fecundity and egg quality, low larval and fry survival, stress and disease susceptibility, size dispersion and sub-optimal growth. Furthermore, market saturation and/or high competition has lead to relatively low prices in products such as salmon, trout, seabream and seabass. Therefore, the European Aquaculture industry is seeking alternative high-value species to farm. Tuna is a species with a tremendous market and therefore high potential for aquaculture. A recent European-level effort, the FP7 SELFDOTT project, brought major progress in broodstock management and ongrowing of bluefin tuna (BFT). These efforts were also parallel by own R&D efforts on BFT by several fish farming companies, the most focused being the one by FUTUNA Blue España. However, weaning from live feeds to inert diets is a major bottleneck, and during the adaptation large mortalities are common. _x000D__x000D_This project aims to develop successful weaning feeds and a weaning protocol for BFT. This new generation weaning feed for BFT, together with the optimized weaning protocol, should increase survival during weaning of BFT from the current 10% (mean value) to 50%. This should in turn increase the offer for aquaculture reared BFT juveniles in ongrowing cage farms, thereby reducing the pressure on wild populations._x000D__x000D_In more specific terms the expected project results are:_x000D__x000D_An innovative premium weaning feed for BFT, which is nutritionally balanced and highly digestible;_x000D_An optimised weaning protocol for BFT, using the developed premium diet, which improves growth performance, survival rates, guarantees high quality BFT larvae and juveniles._x000D__x000D_The successful accomplishment of these technological developments is highly innovative and the consortium foresees the potential for IP protection measures._x000D__x000D_To accomplish these objectives FUTUNA Blue España, a state of the art hatchery for BFT, and SPAROS a research-driven SME focusing in nutrition and aquaculture, have joined efforts. This effort will be further supported by the scientific competence in larval rearing and nutrition physiology of the ICMAN/CSIC team._x000D__x000D_The CO technological development envisaged in the project is the development of a nutritional balanced soft-textured weaning feed for BFT. Market applications comprise BFT (European market), but also other tuna species farmed worldwide. In addition it will be paramount to develop an optimized weaning protocol._x000D__x000D_Even if several commercial weaning diets exist for marine fish species, mass mortalities and quality problems (e.g., skeletal deformities) are common in most species. The extremely fast developing bluefin tuna (BFT) larvae bring even additional challenges. First feeding larvae have a very immature digestive system, having difficulties in digesting complex ingredients. In fact in this species, weaning from live feeds to inert diets is a major bottleneck. Still when the feed is appropriate marine fish larvae present tremendous growth rates. Diet properties, both in terms of nutrition and feed technologies, but also optimized weaning protocols, are key factors._x000D__x000D_The technical approach chosen for the development of new products relies on the research of optimized feed formulations and innovative manufacturing processes, but will also require the characterization of the morphological and functional ontogeny of the BFT gut, identify critical physiological events during weaning of BFT, and optimize weaning protocols for BFT._x000D__x000D_At the end of the project SPAROS and FUTUNA expect to be able to establish product specifications (nutritional value and physical water stability) relevant at an industrial level, and validation of its biological efficacy with BFT. An optimized weaning protocol will also be defined. The project will also cover a detailed analysis of target markets (European and worldwide) and definition of a product launch strategy

Acronym WEANTUNA (Reference Number: 7994)
Duration 01/12/2012 - 30/10/2015
Project Topic Tuna has a tremendous market and therefore high potential for aquaculture, However, weaning from live feeds to inert diets is a major bottleneck, and during the adaptation large mortalities are common. This project aims to develop _x000D_ successful weaning feeds and a weaning protocol for bluefin tuna.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
Weaning diets an protocols were validated for greater amberjack, while the diet was also demonstrated to Senegalese sole. This diet will soon be launched in the market for greater amberjack, while the effort in demonstrating its benefits for bluefin tuna and other fast growing marine fish species will continue.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 9

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
2 FUTUNA Blue España Partner Spain
2 Sparos Lda Coordinator Portugal