Ph.D. Ana de las Heras is coordinating the participation of Bionaturis in Targetfish, the European consortium that is seeking solutions to the most common diseases in aquaculture. The balance after this first year is very positive.

-The research on health for aquaculture is one of the business activities in Bionaturis, what are the main milestones and where does the research head for? What are the next challenges?

Our goal is to offer innovative solutions for the prevention and control of diseases in aquaculture. We are focused on working in different and very important diseases for aquaculture, which, besides, will be useful as model for other ones. We expect to obtain soon the first results of testing new orally formulations in target species.

-In this way, Bionaturis is taking part in the European project Targetfish, that has just turned a year. What´s been the balance so far?

The first year has been very satisfying. Targetfish is a large consortium where most of the main European research groups that are working in immunology, fish pathology and aquaculture are taking part. All our effort is driven to obtain tangible solutions to the main diseases that are affecting European aquaculture. The consortium is very well-headed and there is a great commitment to achieve the set outcomes.

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-Why is the research of health in aquaculture so important?

The world population is increasing and needs a first-class protein source. Aquaculture is essential to imbalance and satisfy the growing demand of aquatic products. Nowadays, aquaculture contributes nearly 50% of fish supply for human intake, and it is expected that in 2015 aquaculture will overtake the commercial fishing as main sources of fish protein. The increasing global demand of fish and shellfish, along with the limited capacity of the fishing industry to satisfy it, has contributed to accelerate the continuous growth of aquaculture all over the world. As in any type of livestock farm, aquaculture entails the intensification of the production, the rise of animal population density and, with that, the growth of the stress and the concentration of pathogens (virus, bacteria,etc.). In addition, due to the great expansion of aquaculture and its development in the world, the global commerce and exchange of living animals, eggs and subproducts have increased, creating new chances of transmission and dissemination of pathogens. As a result, the research in aquaculture is essential. It’s necessary keeping and ensuring the health and well-being of the animals to guarantee a first-class production that will meet the worldwide needs.

-What are the most researched species?

In general terms, each region is working with the highest economic potential species within its territory. In Andalusia, for instance, we point out gilthead bream, bass and turbot, among others. In the Mediterranean basin, basses and gilthead breams are the “queens”. In Europe, we would say trout and carp as the main continental species. At a world level, we can talk about salmon, different kinds of carps, tilapias, etc.

-What does it mean to Bionaturis to belong to Targetfish?

Belonging to a big consortium like Targetfish offers to Bionaturis the opportunity of colaborating with international renowned centers and researchers in aquaculture. This direct contact to experts and cutting-edge companies and institutions in the sector means a great contribution to the progress of Bionaturis’ research and develops in aquaculture. Targetfish means a window for Bionaturis, not only to the european aquaculture but also to the rest of the world. For example, we have reached a position that has allowed us signing and agreement with a multinational company that will evaluate the efficiency and safety of a new vaccine for salmons. This vaccine fights one of the main diseases affecting the salmon industry and it has been developed in our platform FLYLIFE.