News - January 22, 2016

Aquaculture research concentrated in Wageningen

Albert Sikkema

Five aquaculture researchers of Imares in Yerseke have moved to Livestock Research in Wageningen. On campus , they can work better together with the animal researchers, says Wout Abbink.

<Photo: the yellow-tail kingish, from Robbert Blonk>

Three researchers of Imares, including Abbink, have taken place at the Animal Breeding and Genomic Centre in Radix. The health and nutrition researchers for aquaculture from Yerseke, Jeroen Kals and Hans van de Vis, have taken place in Zodiac on the Wageningen campus. Aquaculture is now grouped with farm animals’, says Abbink. The five decided to come together once every two weeks to align their research.

Amongst other research, they are working on the introduction of yellow-tail kingfish in Europe. This family member of the horse mackerel, which are found naturally in the Indian and Pacific Ocean, is grown in cages in several countries with great success. Because the kingfish (Seriola lalandi) is very popular in Japanese sushi, it has become the most cultivated species in Japan. ‘It is a strong fish, they grow well and reproduce in captivity’, Abbink sums up the advantages. ‘Moreover the price is good, they are in the expensive segment.’

And still yellow-tail kingfish of Dutch ground are not yet on the menu of restaurants. The company Silt BV, that cultivates fish since 2011 in basins on land, went bankrupt last year. ‘There was too much mortality’, says Abbink, who expects a restart of the company. Cultivating a new fish species never goes well with the first try, the researcher knows. ‘We need to align the fish and the breeding system in tanks together.’

That is why Arjan Palstra, a colleague of Abbink, is now concentrating on  the swimming physiology of the kingfish. He creates a certain kind of current in the tanks, so that the fish swim against the current with a certain speed and develops more muscle mass. That swimming protocol, which is different per fish species, makes them fitter and robust. Another colleague, Robbert Blonk, looks at the possibilities of breeding. ‘We are now using animals of which the parents grew up in the wild. These animals now have to grow up in high densities in tanks. We thus have to select or animals that can stay strong and healthy for the fish farm.’

The group also performs research on important farmed fish such as eel , sea bass , sea bream, Atlantic salmon and Nile Tilapia. On campus the researchers expect to work closer together with other expert groups, so that they can further distinguish themselves in Dutch and international aquaculture research.