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Parr-smolt salmon
Photo: Fredrik Jutfelt
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Happy salmon - Physiology shapes the happy salmon: a systems approach to sustainable feeds for stimulation of growth, welfare and survival in salmon farming

Research project
Active research
Project size
10 MSEK
Project period
2021 - 2024
Project owner
Dept of Biological and Environmental sciences & SWEMARC

Short description

The project aims to contribute knowledge and solutions for a successful Atlantic salmon smolt production using novel sustainable feeds, which are applicable in modern recirculating farming systems. The project will deliver new scientific knowledge about the fundamental biology of the fascinating smoltification process, in addition to applicable results for the industry. One major potential impact is a more ethical salmon production, as well as, increased production efficiency of the sector, through innovative prototype feeds and smolt production protocols.

The project gathers academic partners from Norway, Sweden and Iceland that have teamed up with the aquaculture industry partners Skretting, Laxar Fiskeldi Ltd, Arctic Fish Ltd, Swedish Algae Factory, and Rena Hav AB. The project is coordinated by the University of Gothenburg

Background

The project “Physiology shapes the happy salmon – a systems approach to sustainable feeds for stimulation of growth, welfare and survival in salmon farming, in short “Happy salmon”, will address the major global and local challenge of increased production of healthy and secure seafood through responsible, resilient and sustainable aquaculture. The project will thus contribute with scientific-based knowledge to attain the Sustainability Development Goals of the UN Agenda 2030 with focus on SDG 2 , 12 and 14.

 

Aims

The Happy salmon consortium constitutes research and industrial partners with a common goal to increase our understanding of the underlying physiological causes of the performance and survival of salmonid fish in modern intensive aquaculture. The aim is to generate knowledge for a successful Atlantic salmon smolt production using novel sustainable feeds, which are applicable in modern recirculating farming systems. We will investigate the physiological background behind what makes a good and robust smolt to understand more precisely how to overcome bottlenecks during FW to SW transition. In addition, we will also secure optimal health and growth, by targeting salmon performance during different production cycle stages and protocols.

We aim to test the hypothesis that alternative feeds based on marine raw materials, directly using marine microalgae and side streams or indirectly using insects, will be lead to a robust and osmoregulatory prepared smolt, with high appetite and growth, health and welfare. Major potential impact is a more ethical production, as well as, increased production efficiency of the sector, through innovative prototype feeds and smolt production protocols.

 

Objectives

  1. Utilize marine side streams and insects as protein source to evaluate their impact on gut function, fish health and welfare
  2. Assess development of hypo-osmoregaulatory function in gill, gut and kidney to determine optimal time point for transfer of smolts to SW
  3. Evaluate the impact of high intensive smolt production protocols on development of hypo- osmoregulatory functions in gill, gut and intestine
  4. Assess the impact of fasting before FW to SW transfer on physiological function and performance in SW
  5. Tailor a feed optimized for RAS, based on marine side streams and insects, to improve smolt  performance, growth and survival in SW

Planned work and expected results

The fish will be followed through the freshwater stage, smoltification, seawater transfer and as post smolts in SW. We will use state-of-the-art physiological methods and deliver mechanistic proofs regarding feed intake and growth, gut health and nutrient transport, barrier functions, osmoregulatory function and timing in the main tissues; gills, intestine and kidney, for the factors that are most important in creating a robust, resilient and high performing smolt.

Happy salmon will generate results on the functionality of ocean based tailor-made feeds on the physiological performance, when applied in selected prevailing rearing smolt protocols in FW focusing on different smolt sizes, light and feeding regimes, use of “smolt-feed” and timing of transfer to seawater. The feed, the fish and the feed-fish interaction can vary in the different land-based aquaculture systems that are currently under development to increase the barrier and decrease the interaction between the farmed fish and the environment. Therefore, a major outcome of the Happy salmon project is new knowledge on the physiological mechanisms behind smolt performance and the physical properties of feed and faeces in flow through, partial and full RAS.  

 

The consortium

Four world-renowned physiological research environments at the University of Bergen, Norway, the University of Gothenburg and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden, and Holar University College, Iceland, collaborate in the project. They have teamed up with the aquaculture production and feed industry represented by one large, multinational feed company, Skretting in Norway, two large salmon producers in Iceland, Laxar Fiskeldi Ltd and Arctic fish Ltd, as well as, the two Swedish SMEs and entrepreneurs, Swedish Algae Factory and Rena Hav AB.

The project aims for a transdisciplinary approach and the participants have leading roles and commitments as experts and advisors to authorities and governments at the national, county and municipal levels providing contacts and networks for the dissemination and implementation of the proposed project results.