Natural remedies have positive effects on fish health and immune systems

07/06/2018.- The extracts of natural plants known for their therapeutic use among humans can also provide positive effects on the health and well-being of fish farmed in aquaculture. This is what the Canarian researcher Daniel Montero, professor at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) and scientific coordinator of Aquaculture Facilities at the University Institute of Aquaculture and Sustainable Marine Ecosystems (IU-ECOAQUA), said during his speech at the International Symposium on Fish Nutrition and Feeding (ISFNF), which has been taking place since Sunday 3 June in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

The different plants have several health benefits for fish, including antibacterial properties, hormonal balance and support for the immune and digestive systems.

 Specifically, explained Montero, the PROINMUNOIL PLUS project, which since 2017 has been carried out at ECOAQUA Institute under the umbrella of the National Programme for the Promotion of Scientific and Technical Research of Excellence, has tested in Gran Canaria a mixture of garlic oils and lipped plant essences (such as rosemary) in diets for sea bass, with a 50% improvement in resistance to diseases and the well-being of this species.

Four scientists from the ECOAQUA institute took part in this research and selected sea bass as the most important fish in the Canary Islands aquaculture sector, with a production of 5,507 tonnes in the islands, making it the third largest autonomous region in Spain after Murcia (8,164t) and Andalusia (1,605t). The sea bass is followed by the sea bream, with 2,492 tons produced in the islands, and is also the third region in the state ranking according to the APROMAR 2017 annual report.

In this case the Valencian Community is in first place (5,619t) followed by Murcia (3,368t).

George Chamberlain, President of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, agrees with the need to improve the well-being and health of fish. He also stressed the importance of extending the use of this type of therapeutic substance in the sector, since the use of antibiotics is completely restricted in order to avoid the creation of resistance, which will make it possible to counteract the negative effects derived from intensified production and climate change. "90% of the global warming that is produced is received not only by the land but also by the oceans, which causes an increase in the melting of Antarctica and an increase in the global water temperature," he explained.

He therefore called for improved animal welfare control through the promotion of biosecurity and more environmentally friendly food for fish, molluscs and crustaceans. "We must promote an optimisation of waste treatment and of the iconic balance, with more efficient feeding systems in fish farms that help prevent disease", he stressed.

In the improvement of the aquaculture sector, so that production can develop in a dietary and ecological way with the corresponding inspection of producers in the event of non-compliance, the different control bodies that have been created to evaluate the environmental quality of the industry are playing a fundamental role, one of which is chaired by Chamberlain itself, the Global Aquaculture Alliance. He also highlighted the work of the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI), the Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP), and The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

The American researcher also highlighted how aquaculture has become a source of wealth. Employment in the sector has grown faster than the world's population, directly employing 19 million people today and providing the livelihoods of many millions more. 

As an example, he cited China, the world's largest traditional aquaculture producer, and Ecuador, a country where aquaculture is providing a boost, so that shrimp production in fish farms already generates more profit than banana production.

More than 500 researchers have participated in ISFNF 2018

The 18th edition of the International Symposium on Fish Nutrition and Feeding, organised by the Research Group on Aquaculture of the ECOAQUA Institute and the Scientific Committee of the ISFNF, has attended by more than 500 international researchers from 43 countries, ends today at the Canary Islands Convention Centre - Alfredo Kraus Auditorium.

This forum, which has been held every two years for 40 years and is the second time it has been held in the Canary Islands, has launched 100 oral presentations, 300 posters and various conferences.

The ECOAQUA team has 35 research segments and more than 20 years of research experience and international R&D, which has allowed to know, with greater accuracy and precision, the biological processes of reproduction, feeding and growth of marine animals.

The ISFNF 2018 has had the main sponsorship of Skretting and the Blue Biotechnology and Aquaculture Platform (Bioasis Gran Canaria) through the Spegc, and the support of the Poema del Mar Aquarium, DSM, Aker Biomarine, Evonik, Nutriad, Sparos, Phileo, Adisseo, Darling Ingredients and NexPro.