Under the leadership of ttz Bremerhaven 14 players of the German aquaculture sector have joined forces in the network AQUZENTE. Technological innovations for efficient and sustainable fish farming and marketing are the main goal of this network.
Germany is currently dependent on imports of food fish. The domestic production amounts to a mere 12% and the share of German aquaculture in this connection is negligible. The public-funded network AQUZENTE has been set up to change this. The network combines the different fields of activities within the aquaculture industry throughout the value chain. AQUZENTE aims at increasing the competitiveness of German aquaculture in this internationally emerging sector.
Expansion of market presence
Aquaculture is the fastest growing sector in the food industry. The demand for new breeding and processing technologies is constantly increasing. However, the EU accounts for only 8% of global aquaculture production, with the German contribution stagnating at rank 8 of the European production sites. AQUZENTE itself can be perceived as an "innovation incentive" for the involved companies. Under the guidance of ttz Bremerhaven these companies can advance promising ideas, assess their financial risks, and convert the ideas into marketable products as fast as possible.
This is highly necessary in such a difficult market environment: aquaculture in Germany is a primary regional activity dominated mainly by small family businesses. Nevertheless, the sector - which besides the actual fish farmers includes technology vendors, processors or marketers - is of great economic importance with sales of more than 3 billion Euros a year. At the same time German aquaculture is facing more and more challenges which the individual companies can hardly cope with alone due to lacking human and financial resources. Small and medium-sized enterprises should therefore be supported at market entry and development projects.
Combatig a fishy image
Since the early 1990s world fish consumption has steadily increased, whereas wild fish stocks are in decline. In 2010 the per capita fish consumption in Germany was estimated at 15.7 kg. The development of sustainable aquaculture offers the possibility to reduce the use of wild caught fish and thus relieve natural fish stocks. In public, this is controversial. Recurring themes in this context are the use of antibiotics, discussions about animal welfare or the high proportion of fish meal in conventional feed.
However: It is the German aquaculture sector that seeks to farm fish in an economically viable, but environmentally friendly and socially just way. Thus, AQUZENTE supports the partners especially in communication issues targeted towards the final consumers. All AQUZENTE activities are based on current problems of the participating companies. Together the need for new technologies and procedures are identified and the image of German aquaculture among consumers is improved through education measures.
Open choice of partners
AQUZENTE took off in April 2012 with 14 founding members. The participation of other partners which can complement the expertise of the network is strongly encouraged. Especially technology suppliers, aquaculture businesses of all types, processors and marketers, feed manufacturers, investors, associations and research institutions are invited. The network is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) under the Central Innovation Programme for SMEs (ZIM) in the module network projects (ZIM-NEMO). The project executing organisation is the VDI / VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH, based in Berlin.
ttz Bremerhaven is an innovative provider of research services and operates in the field of application-oriented research and development. Under the umbrella of ttz Bremerhaven, an international team of experts is working in the areas of food, environment and health.
Christian Colmer | idw
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