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Project win to help sustainable expansion of European aquaculture. Progress towards more sustainable methods of aquaculture has received a major boost after the team behind an innovative new sea lice treatment system won a competition for projects to help the European aquaculture industry grow.

The BREEZE initiative which is being developed by a consortium made up of Aqua Pharma Group, Pulcea, the Norwegian University of Science & Technology and the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, was one of the four projects chosen by EIT Food for inclusion in its 2021 Business Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture.

BREEZE combines Aqua Pharma Group’s existing hydrogen peroxide treatment with the acoustic based technology pioneered by Pulcea to improve the efficiency of sea lice removal from fish in a gentle treatment. A post-treatment biological clean-up process using enzymes then speeds up the decomposition of the hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water, making the system suitable for use even in environmentally sensitive areas.

Supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), EIT Food is Europe’s leading food innovation initiative, with the aim of creating a sustainable and future-proof food sector. The competition is part of the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy which underlines the potential of farmed seafood as a source of protein for food and feed with a low-carbon footprint and the importance of aquaculture in building a sustainable food system.

Mercedes Groba, Innovation Programme Manager at EIT Food, said:

“The European Farm-to-Fork strategy aims to provide healthy and sustainable food systems; this is one of the key objectives of the European Green Deal. I truly believe that aquaculture is a critical part of the solution. Our promising innovation projects present a collaborative approach to meet the objectives of the European Green Deal and to transform the aquaculture industry into a sustainable form of food production. This forms part of EIT Food’s wider mission to make our entire food system more sustainable, healthy and trusted.”

Stian Aaen, Research Manager and Veterinarian at lead consortium partner Aqua Pharma Group, said:

“It is a great honour to be one of the winners of this prestigious competition and to receive recognition of our ambitious programme to dramatically lower the environmental impact of aquaculture and to help improve standards of fish welfare.

“We have a huge role to play in increasing transparency in aquaculture and reassuring consumers that the fish we eat is sustainably farmed according to the highest welfare standards.  The BREEZE initiative will enable the successful scaling of sustainably managed fish farms, to meet the growing demand for healthy proteins and we are excited to be making this happen together.”

Ian Armstrong, Managing Director of Pulcea, said:

“This generous award by EIT Food significantly enhances the ability of Pulcea to deliver our innovative technology targeted towards the sustainable farming of ocean waters, and it extends our five year partnership with Professor James Bron and the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture by a further two years.”

Along with the consortium, the BREEZE project also involves two raw material suppliers as strategic project partners. The hydrogen peroxide molecule is provided by Solvay, with the enzyme used in the biological clean-up part of the treatment process supplied by Novozymes.

Marco Giannuzzi, EMEA General Manager for the Solvay Peroxides GBU, said:

“At Solvay, we believe that science will provide solutions to major humanity challenges. We are proud to be a part of this innovative project that minimizes environmental impact and maximizes fish welfare and congratulate Aqua Pharma Group on their win.”

Kevin Mann, Novozymes Global Scientific Product Support Manager, said:

“Solutions to improve the sustainability and health of farmed animals is of significant strategic importance to Novozymes and fully aligned with our company’s values. Aquaculture and fish welfare are extremely exciting areas and Novozymes is very happy to be a strategic project partner and have our sustainable enzyme solutions as part of the BREEZE initiative.”

Trials of the BREEZE treatment system will be carried out over the next two years with the concept expected to be ready for market by the end of 2023.