Acronym: CRAB

Action: Collective Research

Start and Duration: June 2004 (36 months)

Total Budget: Euro 2.347.356

EC contribution: Euro 1.584.733

EAS role: Dissemination Partner (Coordinator is TNO Industrial Technology, NL).

This EU funded project will provide the European marine aquaculture industry with low cost practical solutions to control biofouling

Surfaces immersed in the aquatic environment become biofouled when unwanted aquatic organisms such as barnacles, tubeworms and seaweed settle and grow on those surfaces. Biofouling is a complex and recurring problem in all sectors of the European fish-farming industry. Problem areas include biofouling on:

  1. INFRASTRUCTURE: Immersed structures such as cages, netting and pontoons; equipment and structures such as pipelines, pumps, filters and holding tanks.
  2. STOCK SPECIES: Farmed species, particularly shellfish such as mussels, scallops, oysters etc.

Uncontrolled biofouling leads to significantly increased maintenance costs and production losses (low growth/poorer quality). The cost of changing nets on medium sized salmon farmers is for example €60000 per year. Current estimates based on figures from the industry and the FAO suggest biofouling on fish cages and shellfish costs the European industry between 5 and 10% of the industry value (up to €260 million/year). In some sectors the costs of manual cleaning of biofouled shellfish amounts to 20% of the product market value. Fouling also reduces product value, currently tubeworm fouling of mussels downgrades them from Class A (1300 Euro per tonne) to Class B (570 Euro per tonne). At a local level, periodic heavy fouling can be catastrophic reducing saleable product by 60-90%.