Results from a landmark European project have laid the foundations to strengthen the seafood production and processing industry in Europe and safeguard sustainable seafood for future generations
Funded by the EU Horizon 2020 program, SEAFOODTOMORROW has developed innovative solutions to tackle some of the seafood industry’s biggest issues: sustainability and ensuring the safety, quality, transparency and availability of products that meet consumer needs.
Seafood is an important source of high-quality protein and is naturally rich in valuable nutrients for a healthy diet. Approximately three billion people rely on (wild-caught and farmed) seafood as a primary source of protein. As both the world population and aquaculture continue to expand, it is vital to develop new, innovative and eco-friendly solutions to ensure that global seafood security and quality meet market demands.
Launched in 2017, SEAFOODTOMORROW aimed to tackle these challenges. The project concluded in April 2021. Key outputs include novel aquafeeds which replace traditional fish feed sources such as fishmeal and fish oil with sustainable, eco-friendly natural ingredients and produce farmed fish fillets fortified in essential nutrients for consumers; new technologies and fast screening tools to detect contaminants in seafood that can be used by producers to control the risk of contaminants and reduce loss of their products; a concept for accredited certification and associated quality reward label and DNA based tools to support the reliable identification of seafood species, to help tackle fraud and support transparency along the seafood value chain.
The project improved access to reliable information about seafood as a web-based training course has been developed for managers in the seafood sector to address education gaps in the industry (eu/e-learning). and the FishChoice website and app (eu) that can be used by individual consumers to assess nutritional benefits and any potential risks of eating seafood on a personalised basis.
FishChoice, part of the project
The URV research group TecnAtox has optimised the tool FishChoice, created as part of the project. The new version of the tool guides consumers so that they can get the maximum benefit from eating fish and seafood – in terms of nutrient intake – while it reduces exposure to chemical pollutants and aims for consumption to be sustainable. The new version has kept two options: one designed for the general public, the other designed for nutrition and health professionals, industries and researchers. Both versions can be accessed from the website www.fishchoice.eu.
The interactive SEAFOODTOMORROW Key Achievements booklet showcases the project’s innovative solutions, key results and insights. The booklet outlines the next steps needed to bring the results to market and plans by SEAFOODTOMORROW partners to explore further opportunities for end users to exploit and use the results.
Users of FishChoice select the country where they are and, as a function of this choice, the tool shows the species of fish and seafood that are habitually eaten out of a total of 64, 40 more than in the first version. The other species are shown on a secondary level. Fish products are also included: for example, fish soup, fish paté or smoked salmon. Once users have selected their weekly menu, together with the population group they belong to, they can click on the tabs to find out about the nutrient and contaminant intake of consuming each species.
The tool compares the intake results with the thresholds established by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in terms of the minimum amount of nutrients recommended and the maximum amount of contaminants that can be tolerated. If users do not respect these limits, they are sent a warning. Finally, FishChoice provides advice in the form of a traffic light so that users can eat the fish species they have selected in a sustainable fashion (for example, it indicates if a species is in danger or what type of fishing methods should be used).
António Marques, SEAFOODTOMORROW Project Coordinator, highlighted the impact of the project: “SEAFOODTOMORROW’s results will help to decrease the environmental footprint of the seafood sector and support sustainable use of our marine resources. We expect our eco-innovative solutions will soon reach the market and will enable society to continue to enjoy seafood as a safe and nutritious food source. Some of our solutions require industry level validation. When this is achieved, we are confident that the results will help the seafood industry to navigate future societal challenges, contribute to the European Green Deal, circular economy and zero waste in the seafood sector”.
SEAFOODTOMORROW is the result of a collaboration involving more than 60 researchers from 35 partner organisations across Europe. For more information, please visit seafoodtomorrow.eu.