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NewTechAqua aquaponics system wins MedFish4Ever award for innovative practices in aquaculture

Enric Gisbert, head of the Aquaculture programme at IRTA, collects the award.

The saltwater aquaponic system developed by IRTA as part of the European project NewTechAqua has won the MedFish4Ever Awards for innovative practices in aquaculture research.

The MedFish4Ever Awards, organised by FAO, aim to celebrate and promote innovation and creativity as drivers of sustainability in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. IRTA received this prestigious award at the MedFish4Ever Conference, which took place on 3-4 October in Malta.

Plants and fish, fish and plants

When aquaculture is combined with hydroponics, the result is aquaponics: plants and fish are grown simultaneously, the fish provide nutrients to the plants and the plants clean the water which is recycled and returned to the fish.

Aquaponia system developed by the IRTA (source: NewTechAqua project).

Commercial use of aquaponics is still limited, but IRTA is working to change this within the NewTechAqua project. The award-winning initiative has designed a new system for rearing mullet alongside Salicornia, a highly prized salinity-tolerant plant also known as “sea asparagus”, and initial results have been very promising. The system is unique in its low costs, minimal electricity consumption and simple design, and is adaptable as a basis for almost any aquaponic fish and vegetable model.

The MedFish4Ever Conference brought together senior officials, fishermen, fish farmers, scientists, managers, civil society organisations and other experts to discuss the state of the vital fisheries and aquaculture sector and agree on transformative new actions towards a sustainable future. Senior officials from 20 countries attended. The event was hosted by the government of Malta and organised by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) together with the European Union.