Marine bivalves are nutritious, inexpensive and sustainable protein sources for humans nonetheless their commercial production in Africa is relatively unexplored. Bivalves are widespread in marine coastal areas and provide important services to marine ecosystems but as filter-feeders may accumulate contaminants from the environment. When bivalves are eaten these contaminants can cause diseases that might be severe and ultimately lead to death in humans. Food-borne illness and death are common in Africa and prevention is of paramount importance. Bivalve mariculture contributes to improving food security and has a low environmental impact but in Africa, this activity is poorly explored due to lack of investment/knowledge and the available native specimens for consumption are obtained from the Ocean and adequate measures for safety and quality control are non-existent.
HealthyBi4Namibe aims to take a holistic approach to identify potential environmental threats (pathogens, toxic blooms, and environmental pollutants) on marine bivalves and characterize their impact on bivalve physiology and technologies to assess and ameliorate their risk for consumption in Namibe, Angola. The project aims to:
1) characterise the holobiont of mussels and oysters under climate change scenarios and
2) Identify bivalve biomarkers as indicators of quality and food safety monitoring.
It will deliver, 1) a survey of potential environmental threats for bivalve mariculture, 2) establish a framework for environmental monitoring to improve production security and 3) define standard operating procedures for depuration of bivalve production in Angola. At the core of HealthyBi4Namibe will be capacity building to ensure tools and expertise are developed and can secure the long-term legacy and impact of the project on bivalve production and food security monitoring. Through monitoring threats and opportunities, HealthyBi4Namibe will identify and create opportunities for the development of bivalve mariculture and by promoting capacity-building it will ultimately stimulate sustainable development of the local economy and employment contributing to increase the quality of life (QoL) in Angola.