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French platform to serve the aquafeed industry

Nouvelles Vagues is a French scientific and technical platform offering a wide range of services to the aquafeed industry.

Nouvelles Vagues
June 24, 2024

Boulogne sur Mer is the largest seafood hub in Europe and also the largest fishing harbor in France. In the mid-1980s, the French National Institute for Ocean Science and Technology (IFREMER) and the Regional Council of Nord-Pas-de-Calais decided to develop a laboratory to support the seafood industry and provide quality control services as well as technical support right at the door of the fishing harbor, fishmongers and processing plants.

“Later, in 2010, after several years of constant growth, the Nouvelles Vagues’ Innovation Platform was created following a call for projects from the French state,” explained Benoit Hillion, COO, at Nouvelles Vagues in a recent interview. A new aquaculture experimental station at Wimereux was also built to complete the pool of services with a strong focus on promoting developing aquaculture in the region through sustainable and innovative aquaculture technologies.

Today, Nouvelles Vagues is a French scientific and technical platform serving the aquatic products sector. “Our innovation platform was implemented to meet the increasing needs for more sustainable and safe aquatic products,” Hillion said.

The facilities

Being a Technological Resources Center (CRT), it performs R&D projects in partnership with private and public organizations and provides services and technical support to the seafood and aquaculture industry. The company operates two sites, the Laboratory and the Aquaculture R&D Center.

The Laboratory is composed of the Microbiology, Chemistry and Molecular Biology departments and the Technological Hall. It is Cofrac accredited (the sole accreditation body in France) and provides a whole range of microbiological, physicochemical, and biomolecular analyses as well as metrological controls for all types of aquatic food/matrix and freshwater. “We provide calibration and verification controls for probes, scales, and micropipettes. We also have an expert panel, which enables us to perform comparative organoleptic tests on seafood products. Our catalog of analysis is pretty complete as we offer more than 400 types of analysis,” Hillion explained.


Credits: Nouvelles Vagues

The R&D Aquaculture Center has a 1,500-m2 facility built on a 1-ha plot. The building houses two large rooms designed for grow-out (30x1 m3 tanks) and larval/nursery (36x500 liter tanks) trials. The center also has different rooms for copepods, rotifers, Artemia and phytoplankton production, as well as a pathogen challenge room (16x130 liter tanks and 20x50 liter aquaria).

“At the R&D Aquaculture Center, we perform feed trials, zootechnical trials, and challenges tests. We also assist customers in testing aquaculture equipment. Nouvelles Vagues is able to perform some unique stress tests (acute and chronic stress) and Vibrio challenge tests in seawater,” Hillion said. “We also have two dedicated laboratories available for the exclusive use of our clients should it be necessary to work in complete privacy.”


Credits: Nouvelles Vagues

Aquafeed trials

In terms of aquafeed trials, the center can perform digestibility, attractability, associated stress response, toxicity, and performance trials. “We can also perform sensorial analysis. This enables us to define the impact of some new feeds or ingredients on the flesh taste of the targeted species. Additionally, we can coat feed additives with our vacuum coater,” Hillion said.

“Virtually any species (fish, crustaceans, mollusks and very soon macro-algae) can be tested in our facilities. We can implement freshwater and seawater conditions and also cold and warm conditions (from 10-30°C) and for all life stages.”

With several projects in the pipeline, the center has never been so busy. The center is currently managing several R&D projects. “Currently, research is quite oriented toward sustainability and mitigating the impact of climate change. We see a huge focus on microbiome, genetics, and the development of new species,” Hillion stated. “We have a new analysis in mind which is going to need some new R&D programs. We also plan to build some extra rooms for the R&D Aquaculture Center.”

“Nouvelles Vagues itself is a success story, being an independent and private company, we do keep growing the company and continue to enlarge our offering of services to our customers. Our customer satisfaction poll encourages us to keep our current strategy: to remain independent, provide the latest technical support, and maximum confidentiality, and be always ahead of the industry needs by running our innovation programs,” Hillion concluded.