The project

Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture for Sustainable and Safe Food Production

The primary objective is to increase aquaculture productivity and sustainability, document and improve food safety of existing and emerging aquatic species by recycling aquaculture wastes through Integrated Multitrophic (IMTA) systems.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the project aims to contribute to:

  • Zero Hunger
  • Responsible Consumption and Production
  • Climate action
  • Life below water
  • Clean Water
  • Global partnership for sustainable development

Project summary:

The global aquaculture sector is expected to grow to feed an increasing world population. Yet, the industry’s relies on limited and unsustainable sources of raw materials for aquafeed production. Additionally, nutrient-rich aquaculture effluents represent an underutilized resource with rising environmental concern. SAFER-IMTA draws on key expertise from Norway (Møreforsking) and China (Institute of Hydrobiology, Shenzhen University) to address the need for a more sustainable and safe aquaculture food production. The consortium will build upon existing knowledge to demonstrate the concept of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) to maximize resource utilization and limit environmental impacts from fed aquaculture.

The project aims to develop advanced land-based systems for the co-culture of lower trophic species (microalgae, macroalgae and sea cucumber) using both particulate and liquid fractions from carp (China) and salmon (Norway) aquaculture. Biological processes coupled to physical and/or chemical processes will be investigated to convert the waste fractions to suitable substrates for sea cucumber and algal production. The safety and quality of lower trophic products in the perspective of their use as food and aquafeed ingredients will be assessed based on their characterization for harmful compounds (e.g. heavy metals, dioxins, PCBs) and essential nutrients (e.g. proteins, lipids, minerals).

Life cycle assessments will provide important information on the environmental footprint of the developed systems. The knowledge generated by the consortium will bring the IMTA production technology further and increase the understanding of societal impacts of its processes and products though stakeholder consultation and regulations surveys. Better understanding of the incentives and barriers for the implementation of IMTA systems along with technological innovation will contribute to the development of sustainable value-chains in the aquaculture sector. The project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council grant no. 319577 SAFER-IMTA and the National Natural Science Foundation of China grant no. 32061133009.


  1. Increase value and volume of aquaculture products from low trophic organisms.
  2. Convert aquaculture waste into nutrients for sea cucumber and algae productions with contro over harmful compounds.
  3. Develop innovative systems for algae production as protein and lipid sources through the implementation of circular bioeconomy principles.
  4. Apply Responsible Research and Innovation processes to secure low environmental footprint and socially accepted products for food and aquafeed
  5. Boost innovation pace through Sino-Norwegian collaboration sharing existing and creating new knowledge on adequacy of regulatory frameworks.
  6. Support the recruitment of a new generation of scientists in the fields of aquaculture, food and feed safety, bioremediation and sustainability assessment.

The different Work Packages:

  • WP1 Bioconversion of aquaculture wastes into nutrients for selected lower trophic species
    WPL Dr Yang Liu (SZU); Co-WPL: Dr. Jan Sunde (MF)
  • WP2 Cultivation of algae with nutrients derived from pre-treated aquaculture wastes
    WPL Dr. Lan Wang (IHB), Co-WPL Dr. Céline Rebours (MF)
  • WP3 Product safety and nutritional characterization
    WPL Dr Pierrick Stévant (MF) Co-WPL Dr Haokun Liu (IHB)
  • WP4 Sustainability and societal assessment of the production systems
    WPL Dr. Céline Rebours (MF) Co-WPL Pr. Xiaoming Zhu (IHB)
  • WP5 Communication, Dissemination, Knowledge Transfer
    WPL Linn Kristin Akslen-Hoel (MF); Co-WPL Meng Li (SZU)
  • WP6 Management
    WPL Céline Rebours (MF), Co-WPL Xiaoming Zhu (HIB)