Increasing Echinoderm Value Chains

Sea stars, Sea urchins and Sea cucumbers are abundant marine biomass resources that are underdeveloped and underutilised. Throughout Europe, these echinoderms are wastefully exploited, disregarded and discarded. Researchers and industry partners in the InEVal project will advance high quality bioeconomic products and services from echinoderm biomass. InEVal addresses societal demand for new solutions to current challenges for human food, aquafeeds and ecosystem services by:

  • Up-valuing sea stars from Irish and German inshore shellfish industries to processed supplements for salmon, shrimp and seabass diets using milling, washing and enzymatic fermentation.
  • Improving low-value sea urchins from heavily impacted sea urchin barrens to high quality food for humans for high value niche markets in novel land-based enhancement systems under optimal holding conditions. Investigating novel use for remaining unused biomass.
  • Seeding and harvesting sea cucumber for site remediation at nutrient-enriched aquaculture sites. Valuable and sustainable site remediation service is followed by use as a high value human food.

The marine bioeconomy requires new processes and products that originate from innovation along entire value chains. This in turn will create and add value to underutilised available marine bioresources. An extraordinary biomass resource in marine habitats is present in the form of echinoderms, many of which are scarcely utilised in European marine environments and, if so, at zero to low value-addition. The InEVal project approaches diverse value chains related to increasing and adding value to echinoderm biomass to create new products, processes and industries. In doing so the InEVal project aims to explore three echinoderm species, each of which will be developed towards three highly diverse product and service end-points;

A) Diets for aquaculture animals; B) Human food sources; C) Marine bioremediation services

The InEVal project does this together with an optimal consortium of research organisations, higher education institutes, state agencies and established commercial industry partners. Each of these committed partners are key actors along the entire value chain while linking state of the art research with industry and national institutions to promote, develop and implement long-lasting cooperation at a transnational level beyond the InEVal project.

WP 1: Seastars as Aquaculture Feeds (Aquafeeds)

This WP has the following specific objectives:

  • Optimise sea star harvesting and drying/storage at German and Irish fishing and aquaculture sites with industry partners
  • Develop and apply post-harvest processing to create a valuable ingredient for aquafeed formulation
  • Successful testing of novel aquafeeds in controlled feeding of Atlantic salmon, European seabass and Whiteleg shrimp.

WP partners: Coastal Research and Management GbR, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Údarás na Gaeltachta Research & Sectoral Development

Lead: AWI

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WP 2: Sea Urchin Valorisation and Marketing

This WP has the following specific objectives:

  • Develop and introduce a specifically land-based sea urchin roe enhancement system and commercialise its product in the European market
  • Develop and introduce methodologies for out of season sea urchin roe enhancement to supply niche, high value markets.
  • Test and describe optimal transport and holding conditions for sea urchins and identify high value niche markets in Europe and the biomass potential for these markets
  • Investigate possible uses for additional unused biomass from sea urchin barrens that are not suitable for roe enhancement (e.g. too small).

WP partners: ALGAFRES, S.L., Statsnail AS, University of Cagliari, Urchinomics

Lead: Nofima

WP 3: Sea Cucumber Aquaculture Site Remediation

This WP has the following specific objectives:

  • Implement a sea cucumber bioremediation process at selected fallowed aquaculture sites in Europe
  • Monitor and report value of remediation and biomass production together with industry partners
  • Test final sea cucumber product in established high-value export markets

WP partners: Alfred-Wegener-Institute, Marine Institute, University of Cagliari

Lead: GMIT

WP 4: Co-Development and Capacity Building

This WP has the following specific objectives:

  • The development of a detailed overview of the markets (wholesale and retail) for each of the proposed products through direct stakeholder consultation.
  • The development, together with stakeholders and policy makers, of a roadmap for the implementation of each product type, adapted to the regional/national environment.
  • Exchange of the acquired knowledge, from WP 1-3, with local aquaculture experts/fishermen with young researchers in workshops and conferences.

WP partners: ALGAFRES, S.L., Coastal Research and Management GbR, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Nofima, University of Cagliari, Urchinomics

Lead: AWI, Údarás na Gaeltachta Research & Sectoral Development

WP 5: Project Coordination

  • The partners AWI and Nofima are jointly responsible for project coordination, creating a management structure, organizing coordination events and structuring reporting and communication tasks.

WP partners: All partners

Lead: AWI, Nofima