AquaBioTech concludes AquaDetector project with Chinese partners

The closing ceremony of the AquaDetector project.

A partnership between In-Naggar, Malta-based aquaculture research and development firm AquaBioTech Group, Laizhou, Yantai, China-based aquaculture firm Mingbo Aquatic Co., and China Agricultural University has come to a successful conclusion, according to the organizations.

The AquaDetector project sought to enhance digitalization of the aquaculture industry for better farm management, improved animal welfare, and faster production growth, as well as to improve China-Malta research collaboration overall.

Backed by the Sino-Malta Fund and funded by the Chinese and Maltese governments, the two-year AquaDetector research project conducted tests at recirculating aquaculture (RAS) facilities in Malta with a view to using the research outcomes more broadly across China and Europe.

Malta Council for Science and Technology Chairman Tonio Portughese and People’s Republic of China Malta Attaché Wang Xi attended the project’s closing ceremony on 24 February.

“Aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the food industry since it provides high-value nutritious food while supporting the conservation of marine resources. China, as the largest aquaculture producer worldwide in both volume and value, is an essential partner supporting Maltese innovation in this sector,” AquaBioTech Group said in a press release. “The recognition of the Malta Council for Science and Technology to support research in this area through the Sino-Malta bilateral fund is therefore highly valued.”

The main aim of the project was to “promote greater productivity and sustainability of the aquaculture industry through optimizing growth of juveniles in RAS and investigating to high detail through [computational fluid dynamic] modeling and image-capture integration behavior monitoring,” AquaBioTech Spokesperson Dannie O’Brien told SeafoodSource in 2021. AquaBioTech Group Business Development Director George D. Mantas said at the time of the project’s launch his hope was for the project to lead to improvements in the sustainability metrics of RAS aquaculture, and an improved relationship between Malta and China.

The Chinese government has increasingly backed the development of Chinese aquaculture technology and equipment, including the development of RAS, and Mingbo Aquatic, located in the heart of China’s Shandong aquaculture belt, is focused on growing premium species, including grouper.  

“Innovative digitalization technologies assist in mitigating risk factors for the fisheries and aquaculture industry including concerns regarding climate change, global pandemics, and conflicts which could impact fish and seafood production and supply chains,” the company said in its press release. “Collaborative projects such as these enhance the Maltese aquaculture industry by providing considerable socio-economic value, enabling economic diversification, and employment opportunities, and increases potential export earnings whilst contributing towards the E.U. trade deficit for fisheries products.”

AquaBioTech Group, which received an investment from Bluefront Equity in August 2021, recently reached collaborative agreement with Guayaquil, Ecuador-based Aquametrics to deliver technological aquaculture solutions to the Ecuadorian shrimp industry. The company has also advanced its SwitchMed project, funded by the European Union and the United Nations Organization for Industrial Development, to develop an offshore aquaculture technology pilot development in Tunisia.

Photo courtesy of AquaBioTech Group


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