Newton Gomes (CESAM/DBio) discusses the BLUECOMPOSITE project and its contribution to innovation in Sustainable Aquaculture

Newton Gomes, the principal investigator of the BLUECOMPOSITE project, shared with us some details about the recently completed project and explained how the achieved results can open new pathways for the industry and contribute to the development of more sustainable aquaculture.

CESAM: How did the idea for the BLUECOMPOSITE project come about?

Newton Gomes: The BLUECOMPOSITE project emerged from the urgent need to find solutions to mitigate disease outbreaks in aquaculture. The high density of fish in aquaculture facilities has led to more frequent and severe disease outbreaks, which poses a significant obstacle to the economic and sustainable development of the industry worldwide. Our main goal with BLUECOMPOSITE was to develop an innovative technological tool that would allow the production of biologically derived composite materials. These materials have the ability to release bioactive substances while promoting the modulation of the microbiome, nutrient cycling, and animal health in aquaculture systems, especially in recirculating systems (RAS).

CESAM: What are composite materials?

Newton Gomes: Composite materials are materials made by combining two or more different components to create a material with specific functional characteristics. For example, in the BLUECOMPOSITE project, we developed materials in the form of meshes with unique characteristics. These meshes can be used for controlled release of health-promoting substances, promoting the development of beneficial microorganisms, and improving the water quality in production systems.

CESAM: We’d like to get to know the faces behind this project better. Could you tell us a bit more about the people involved in this project?

Newton Gomes: The BLUECOMPOSITE team consists of me as the coordinator, along with researchers Daniel F.R. Cleary, António M.O. Louvado, Vanessa J. Oliveira, Davide A.M. Silva from CESAM/DBio, and Victor F. S. Neto (TEMA/DEM). We also had valuable collaboration from the Interdisciplinary Center for Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR), Riasearch, Lda (a research and development company in aquaculture), and Silva & Ventura – Tornearia Mecânica, Lda.

CESAM: Since the project has concluded, we’d like to hear about some of the achieved results.

Newton Gomes: So far, we have managed to develop and validate equipment, products, and an innovative technological tool that allows aquaculture companies to create customized materials to modulate the microbiome of their systems, promote nutrient cycling, and improve the health of the animals produced. This progress has already led us to file patent applications at the national and European levels.

CESAM: These results sound very interesting. Can you explain how they can directly benefit society in general?

Newton Gomes: The technology we have developed has enormous potential to improve the production of aquatic animals and make a significant contribution to the aquaculture sector. It can help reduce production losses due to disease outbreaks, decrease the need for antibiotics, and address important issues like the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and food safety. Ultimately, BLUECOMPOSITE promotes the development of a more organic and sustainable aquaculture.

CESAM: We can’t conclude this conversation without learning about the plans for the future and what you intend to do with these results.

Newton Gomes: After the project’s conclusion, we are planning to establish contacts with potential investors and partners to bring our technology to the market. We are currently in the process of identifying partners interested in participating in this endeavor. UACOOPERA (UA) will also actively collaborate in identifying, establishing contacts, and negotiating partnerships with external entities to mature and commercialize this innovative technology.

CESAM: Thank you very much. We look forward to hearing more about the BLUECOMPOSITE project in the future.

To learn more about the BLUECOMPOSITE project, visit: [link provided]

The BlueComposite project (CENTRO-01-0145-FEDER-181223) was funded by Centro 2020 – Portugal 2020, European Regional Development Fund (FEDER). The project was based on results previously obtained in the AquaHeal project (MAR-02.01.01-FEAMP-0031), funded by MAR2020, the Operational Program of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (FEAMP).