Acronym: CRAB

EC contract COLL-CT-2003-500536-CRAB (Collective Research, FP6)
Start and Duration: June 2004 (36 months)
Co-ordinator: Peter Willemsen from TNO Science and Industry, Netherlands
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Summary

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.
nets with fouling

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.

nets diver

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%.

Reduction in biofouling raises the market value of shellfish