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Members of the European Parliament visit INAPRO demo site

On the 19th of July, a delegation of Members of the European Parliament visited the INAPRO demonstration site located in Waren (Germany) and discovered how the aquaponic system developed by the INAPRO project produces sustainable food with a low environmental impact.

The visit took place in the framework of a mission organised by the Committee of Fisheries to Mecklenburg - Western Pomerania in order to meet and exchange with several stakeholders from the region about fisheries and aquaculture related issues.

The delegation was composed by MEP Werner Kuhn (EPP, Germany), MEP Clara Aguilera Garcia (S&D, Spain), MEP Francisco José Millán Mon (EPP, Spain) and MEP Jens Gieseke (EPP, Germany) who are all prominent Members of the Committee on Fisheries and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

The delegation arrived on the premises of Müritzfischer, the company that manages the INAPRO demonstration site, on Wednesday morning and the MEPs were welcomed by Mr Ulrich Paetsch and Mr Ulf Rehberg. The Müritzfischer is the largest freshwater fishing company in Germany and deals with lake and river fisheries, aquaculture, fish processing and marketing.

The INAPRO demonstration site is located in the headquarters of the company and consists of a fish farm equipped with a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS), a broad-ship greenhouse, a technical room with a combined heat and power plant (CHP) and the computer control system, a feed storage room and an outside secondary clarifier. The whole facility covers an area of 573 m3 and produces tomatoes and catfish since last year.

During the visit, the MEPs had the possibility to walk around the site and to exchange with Mr Rehberg who explained how the system works and presented the innovations developed by the INAPRO consortium with the aim of improving conventional aquaponics to save water, nutrients and energy.

The biggest innovation provided by INAPRO is the double water recirculation system. Indeed, in the Waren demonstration site there are two independent water recirculation systems: one for the plants and one for the fish. The two systems are linked together via a one-way valve that allows the transfer of the correct amount of nutrient-rich fish water to the hydroponically grown plants. Furthermore, in order to cut the freshwater demand, the evapotranspirated water from the greenhouse, is collected through cooling traps, filtered and reinserted into the fish tanks. This feature allows to minimise the daily fresh water input to less than 3% of the total amount of water circulating in the system.

During the visit, it was noted how the INAPRO aquaponics is flexible and can be adapted to different production facilities located in different regions of the world. Moreover, the system can be adjusted to produce different kinds of vegetables and different fish species, all free from pesticides and antibiotics. The MEPs agreed that further development of the INAPRO aquaponics would allow the production of local, sustainable and healthy food also in rural and remote areas, including the ones who struggle with water scarcity issues.

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