Press ReleaseSuper fresh fish with omega-3!

Super fresh fish with omega-3!

OmegaPeixe project will be the first in Portugal to produce fish with an optimized omega-3 level

Omega-3s are a source of cardiovascular health and useful in combating depressive states: an ally in times of social confinement

Focus on innovation and national technology from companies and institutions in the sector to stimulate and affirm sustainable aquaculture “made in Portugal

The OmegaPeixe project will produce turbot and sea bass, two of the most relevant species in southern Europe, and increase the levels of long-chain omega-3s (the most beneficial for health) in an optimized and environmentally sustainable way. It is the first time that companies invest in the national production of omega-3 enriched fish. The objective is threefold: to respond to the high demand for foods rich in these nutrients, with proven benefits for human health, including a strong anti-inflammatory action with the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and in depressive states; to respect animal welfare and the environment and, at the same time, to encourage sustainable aquaculture made in Portugal.

“Our goal is to provide the consumer with a differentiated fish, with high nutritional value, in particular with a high content of long-chain omega-3 (EPA and DHA), produced in a sustainable way using a careful selection of ingredients at an affordable price”, says Renata Serradeiro, CEO of Acuinova, project leader and European reference in the sector.

In addition to Acuinova, which will produce turbot, the consortium also includes the company ALGAplus, a European reference in integrated multitrophic aquaculture, which will be responsible for the production of organic sea bass, the Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS), from the University of Porto (UP), scientific coordinator with recognized international skills in the area of ​​aquaculture, and the Collaborative Laboratory for Blue Bioeconomy (CoLAB B2E), one of 35 national collaborative laboratories created by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education and monitored by the Portuguese Innovation Agency (ANI). The consortium has the support of Riasearch and Sparos, companies specialized in R&D in aquaculture, for the execution of the project.

Science and Innovation at the service of human and animal health

With extensive experience in the field of marine fish nutrition, always based on animal welfare promotion and the sustainability of aquaculture, and with the goal of food security and fish quality, ICBAS is the scientific partner of OmegaPeixe.

ICBAS will be responsible for assessing the impact of finishing diets, that is, directed to the phase prior to harvest, on the nutritional profile of each species under study. “These diets will be optimized for each species, using mathematical models and the FEEDNETICS intelligent program, developed in Portugal in a previous R&D project by Sparos, to select the ingredients with the greatest functional potential and economic sustainability. In the end, specific feeding protocols for turbot and sea bass will be proposed”, explains researcher Luísa Valente.

The average adult recommendations from entities such as the European Food Safety Authority include a minimum daily intake of 250 mg EPA + DHA (long-chain omega-3), which can be achieved by eating fish twice a week. Fish is the main and almost exclusive source of these nutrients in our diet. However, over the past few decades, we have seen an important reduction in the content of these nutrients in the fillet of several species produced in aquaculture.

“OmegaPeixe will optimize the production of two species of high economic value, produced in our country, in order to guarantee to the consumer levels of these omega-3s well above the minimums associated with the benefits to human health, throughout the year”, adds Luísa Valente.

High quality product at an affordable price

“One of the objectives of the project is to provide high-quality fish to consumers, without significantly increasing the selling price”, clarifies Helena Abreu, founder and General Director of ALGAplus, a company that has just launched the organic sea bass on the market.

The OmegaPeixe project will have a total investment of around 1 million euros, of which almost 666 thousand euros will be supported by Portugal 2020 and by the European Structural and Investment Funds, of the European Union, through the Incentive System for Research and Technological Development. The work will take place over two and a half years.

Aquaculture of the future is made in Portugal

With the growing need for animal protein by consumers worldwide (there will be 9.7 billion people in 2050), and thanks to the scarcity of wild fish stocks, aquaculture already supplies half of the fish consumed worldwide.

“National and European aquaculture is an exemplary answer regarding food safety, quality, freshness, animal welfare and legislation. It should be noted that the use of hormones and antibiotics to promote animal growth has been banned from the EU for two decades, and has never been a common practice in European aquaculture”, reinforces Elisabete Matos, Technical-Scientific Coordinator at CoLAB B2E.

For Elisabete Matos, “the future increasingly involves finding solutions adapted to the environment, animals, and market demand and needs: a transversal sustainability”, she predicts.

Aquaculture is a “strategic area” of the Portuguese economy

“In economic terms, the blue sector has a growth potential in which we must invest, as there are several areas in which it can be developed. In addition to aquaculture, adding value to marine resources through biotechnology (development of drugs of natural origin, new foods, etc.), are areas with colossal growth potential”, adds Elisabete Matos.

Currently, the sea economy grows at twice the speed of the national economy. According to the Satellite Sea Account, developed by the Directorate-General for Maritime Policies and INE, between 2016 and 2018 the blue sector arose 18.5% in Gross Value Added (GVA) and 8.3% in employment. The national economy grew 9.6% in GVA and 3.4% in employment.

The fishing, aquaculture, processing, and marketing sector is responsible for 25.1% of this GVA and for the creation of more than 60 thousand jobs. In 2018, the direct and indirect impact of the sea economy on the national economy is estimated to have translated into 5.4% of GVA and 5.1% of Gross Domestic Product. All this economic impact is achieved with very low environmental impacts when compared to other economic activities.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Laboratório Colaborativo para a Bioeconomia Azul (CoLAB B2E)

Ana Moura | +351 92 75 75 470 | amoura@b2e.pt

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