ILVO Newsletter February 2015

The transition from old to new is, for many of the ILVO research projects, also a time to end an old project and start a new one. In this edition of our newsletter you can see which important research results ILVO has harvested at the end of 2014 and which new ideas were seeded in the beginning of 2015. Lively flatfish, cosmetics from the sea, healthy food and well-smelling pigs. Let the spring come!

New Research Projects

How many flatfish survive after being discarded?

bakkensysteemA staggering amount of commercially-caught fish is being thrown overboard. Some say that all of those discarded fish are either dead before they hit the water or they die soon after, victims of predation or injury. But others argue that some of those species are strong enough to survive after being discarded and live long enough to reproduce. The European Common Fisheries Policy was recently reformed and will now phase in a ban on discards, meaning that fishers will have to land everything they catch. The idea behind the ban is to stimulate more selective fishing techniques, because it will be in the interest of the fisher to only catch the most valuable fish. However, by landing everything, this ban risks killing more fish than before. If a juvenile fish lives long enough after being discarded to spawn new fish, it should be given that opportunity. For this reason, the discard policy provides an important exception: if a certain species can be scientifically proven to have a high chance of survival, fish of that species should be thrown back after catch. Researchers at the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (or ILVO) in Ostend, Belgium are testing the most commercially important species of flatfish - plaice, sole and dab – for their likelihood of survival.

Flemish fish…processed in Flanders? The Flemish fishing sector and the fish processing industry

Most of the fish caught in the North Sea is not processed in Belgium, but rather in the Netherlands or even as far away as Morocco. Local processing of fish products could result in added value for both the Flemish fishermen and the fish processing industry. ILVO will make a roadmap of the needs, challenges and opportunities related to technology, quality, safety and logistics. In this process, ILVO will offer scientific and technical advice related to potential innovations.

Fish in your cosmetics? Valorising fisheries by-products 

ValorevisInstead of simply throwing fisheries by-products in the trash, modern commercial fisheries and the fish processing industry fisheries by-products are looking for ways to valorise these by-products. In a multidisciplinary consortium, ILVO will trace the possibilities, opportunities and stumbling blocks for both the industries. Concrete processing possibilities will be investigated by analysing the various by-products, searching for valuable components, developing and testing several applications of certain by-products on a small scale and conducting a socio-economic analysis. Policy advice on maximum valorisation of fisheries by-products can also be provided. 

Do biofilms eat away at the shelf life of food? KILLFILM attempts to extend shelf life by controlling biofilm formation in the food industry

BiofilmsThe role of biofilms in spoilage of food products is still unclear, therefore ILVO and four other research institutes have started a two-year practice-oriented study. This research will provide insight into biofilms in the food industry: their presence, formation, mechanisms, elimination and prevention. The ultimate aim is to better guarantee and even extend the shelf life of food products.

Healthy food, healthy body? Databank bundles nutritional studies on diet, health and chronic diseases

gezonde voeding‘A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life’ is the vision of Europe. To make that vision come true, the ENDAPASI project was started with ILVO as one of the Flemish partners. By bundling, aligning and sharing research data on the link between diet and health or chronic diseases, existing research data will become available for multidisciplinary and international studies. In the long term, this project will lead to better valorisation and promotion of nutritional research, and will increase knowledge and understanding of how nutrition and nutritional aspects can improve human health.

Rcent Results

Aliens stay out! Guarding against invasive non-native species in European coastal zones

How do we keep invasive species out of our coastal areas, preserve the local biodiversity and avoid negative consequences for the economy caused by alien species? A constructive cross-border collaboration between policy, science and stakeholders. An online European information system. Early detection and control. Consciousness-raising and communication. These were the conclusions from the first phase of the SE FINS project. In a second phase, the consortium will rise to the challenge of achieving those goals in four European estuaries.

Fish overboard! Mapping discards in Belgian fisheries serves to evaluate the effects of mitigation measures.

verspilling in de visserijBefore discard reduction measures can be evaluated, a detailed baseline study on current discarding practices must come first. ILVO has composed a "discard atlas" based on the available long-term data on discards of fish on commercial vessels. These data on the variations in discarding form the basis for evaluating the policy-making processes aimed at preventing waste in fisheries.

Breeding boars to smell well. KU Leuven and ILVO identify a gene linked with lower risk for boar taint

Selecting for pigs with a lower genetic predisposition to produce boar taint could be a big leap forwards for producing male pigs without surgical castration. In an ILVO-KU Leuven study, a marker gene for boar taint was identified. Pigs selected against boar taint showed fewer boar taint compounds in blood and fat, better slaughter quality and a higher meat percentage.

Healthy breeder, healthy broiler? Maternal transition of omega-3 fatty acids from broiler breeders to offspring.

Omega3Research at ILVO clearly demonstrated that fatty acids included in the maternal diet were transported to the offspring. However, no positive effects of these fatty acids have been observed on both the performance of the broiler breeders and the health of their offspring.


Food for the future. Sustainable food systems via European networking.

susfood workshopThe European SUSFOOD project coordinated European research to achieve more sustainable food production and consumption.