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BIOMIN Announces Mycotoxin Aquaculture Challenge Awards for University of Plymouth Students

Getzersdorf 16 February 2021 – Leading feed additive and animal nutrition firm BIOMIN has recently announced the winners of the Mycotoxin Aquaculture Challenge.

Several students in the MSc Sustainable Aquaculture programme in the School of Biological and Marine Sciences at the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom participated in the Mycotoxin Aquaculture Challenge, submitting articles and short online presentations on how to address the topic of mycotoxin contamination of aquafeed materials. 

A growing concern in aquaculture

“The drive to make aquaculture more sustainable translates into the use of more plant-derived feed ingredients and more non-antibiotic solutions to support animal health,” noted Dr Benedict Standen, Product Manager at BIOMIN. “There’s growing awareness that mycotoxins can be an obstacle for fish and shrimp producers on both counts,” he added.

Fungi-produced mycotoxins are naturally found in crops used in aquafeeds, and more crop-derived materials are added to diets as fishmeal or fish oil inclusion rates decline, leading to higher mycotoxin contamination levels.

“The harmful effects of mycotoxins on aquatic farmed species includes decreased growth performance, higher incidence/severity of diseases and poorer final product quality—all of which make aquaculture less profitable and less sustainable,” observed Lorran Gabardo DVM, Product Manager at BIOMIN.

“It is important to raise awareness on this topic and highlight proven scientific solutions to improve the health and growth of aquatic species, which ultimately results in higher industry profitability, less use of antimicrobials or chemical treatments and more sustainable food production,” said Dr Standen.

Fostering a dialogue and online presence

BIOMIN is committed to research and scientific innovation in the field of animal nutrition and specialty solutions for both terrestrial and aquatic species. The firm has supported a similar initiative in the past. BIOMIN awarded Aquaculture Sustainability Scholarships to University of Plymouth students in 2020.

The company provided students with reference materials –including the recently published book Mycotoxins in Aquaculture– a lecture and discussion on the negative impact of mycotoxins on aquaculture production.

BIOMIN reinforced its presence even during times of social distancing by adding to this year’s program online presentations and discussions between the participating students and a jury panel of aquaculture industry experts, including Prof. Daniel Merrifield, Dr Benedict Standen, Dr Pedro Encarnação and Gustavo Bozano.

“We had some compelling discussions and a great exchange of ideas. It was really good to be connected and support future aquaculture professionals in this way,” stated Ms Gabardo. “We value the research cooperations that we have with leading academic and research institutions such as the University of Plymouth. We thank this year’s participants and jury members for their involvement and congratulate the winners on their success,” Ms Garbado concluded.

2021 Mycotoxin Aquaculture Challenge Award winners were Louis Cattini, Ryan Marchington, Finley Forwood and Maxine Canvin.

Dr Daniel Merrifield, Associate Professor of Fish Health and Nutrition at the University of Plymouth’s School of Biological and Marine Sciences commented, “Support from pioneering companies such as BIOMIN allows us to deliver a research and innovation driven educational offer, allowing our MSc Sustainable Aquaculture students to advance both their technical and scientific knowledge. Furthermore, the Mycotoxin Aquaculture Challenge has provided timely financial support to students at the beginning of their careers, and has enabled them to publish their work in key industry journals.”

Mycotoxin Aquaculture Challenge Award
The Mycotoxin Aquaculture Challenge Award online ceremony took place in early February 2021 to recognize two winning teams. Pictured from upper left to lower right: Prof. Daniel Merrifield, Lorran Gabardo, Louis Cattini, Ryan Marchington, Dr. Benedict Standen, Finley Forwood and Maxine Canvin.
Photo credits: BIOMIN and ERBER Group