Caring about the future

ENIGMA - Eco-friendly Nanotechnology in fish health manaGement for sustainable aquaculture developMent in Africa
Coordinator - Bruno André Fernandes de Jesus da Silva Nunes
Programme - Acordo de Cooperação Científica e Tecnológica entre o MCTES e o Imamat Ismaili
Execution dates - 2022-01-01 - 2024-12-31 (36 Months)
Funding Entity - FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
Funding for CESAM - 242497.3 €
Total Funding - 242497.3 €
Proponent Institution - Universidade de Aveiro
Participating Institutions
Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria

Project Description
Aquaculture contributes to world’s well-being and prosperity as one of the fastest-growing food-producing sectors. It has high potential for sustainable growth of blue economy, especially in low income and poor food security regions of Africa. Increasing aquaculture production to meet growing population needs in animal protein is necessary to alleviate poverty, malnutrition and sustainable livelihood. In Nigeria, the aquaculture sector contributes from 0.2 to 0.5% annually to gross domestic product. Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and catfish (Clarias gariepinus) are among the most cultured fish in the country because of their high tolerance to deteriorating environmental conditions, fast growth and economic importance. Notwithstanding, aquaculture development in Nigeria is reflected by increasing levels of intensification, characterized by high stocking density, excessive handling, increased level of organic content and poor fish nutrition. Under these stressful conditions, many opportunistic bacteria become highly pathogenic and cause disease outbreaks. Furthermore, the increase in temperature of surface water bodies during warmer seasons predisposes fish to bacterial diseases. Consequently, fish experience high mortalities with consequent economic losses.

Traditional methods used to control bacterial infections in fish farms have been included antibiotics and vaccines. However, these are only effective against a specific pathogen. Recently, nanotechnology has been opened many opportunities for aquaculture innovation. Green biosynthesis of nanoparticles shows economic and eco-friendly advantages over other methods and offers a promising avenue of research in the fight against virulent bacteria, hence minimizing antimicrobial resistance. This paradigm shift in disease management can be transferred to African countries like Nigeria, with low food and nutritional security, in order to improve fish health management and ensure aquaculture sustainability.

This project brings together researchers from Portugal and Nigeria, strongly motivated to alleviate poverty in Africa through increased aquaculture production and improved food security, especially for youth, women and vulnerable groups. We propose to achieve this overall aim by developing novel nanotechnology-based approaches to control and prevent bacterial diseases in tilapia and catfish aquaculture, and by providing country-specific training to increase biosecurity capacity in fish disease prevention and control. The project will contribute to solving regional, national and international problems to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1-3 and 12. Furthermore, the project addresses critical steps towards supporting national governments to achieve SDGs 6.3 and 9. The multidisciplinary consortium contemplates a collaborative and complementary partnership, thus tackling SDG 17, but also offers opportunity for national participant institutions to develop build capacity (SDG 10).

Keywords: Aquatic health management, Biosecurity, Blue growth, Capacity building, Catfish, Clarias gariepinus, Disease control, Eco-friendly aquaculture, Ecotoxicological risk assessment, Fish diseases, Food insecurity, Gender balance, Green nanotechnology, Innovation, Nigeria, Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, Paradigm shift, Poverty reduction, Profitability, Smallholder fish farms, Socio-economic status, Subsistence aquaculture, Sustainable livelihood, Technology adoption, Value chain analysis

CESAM Funding: UIDP/50017/2020 + UIDB/50017/2020 + LA/P/0094/2020