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16 February 2015

By: Dr. Amir Bitan

Nutrition is a key issue for the fish farmer. He realizes that a balance must be struck between reducing feed costs, which represents approximately half of his fixed expenses to grow fish to market weight, and satisfying the fish’s nutritional requirements in order to produce a fast growing, robust, healthy product for the consumer. The staple ingredients in feeds for marine finfish have long been fish meal and fish oil, which have been processed mainly from wild-caught fish. However, fish meal is a dwindling resource that is increasing in price and is not sustainable at present levels in commercial feeds. This is widely recognized as a major obstacle that hobbles the rapid growth of the aquaculture industry. A great deal of research has been carried out to replace fishmeal with a variety of alternative plant-based protein sources such as soybean and corn gluten meals. However, these ingredients are less well absorbed, deficient in certain essential amino acids, less palatable and include anti-nutritional factors such as trypsin inhibitors. Consequently, the complete replacement of fish meal with alternative plant based meals has had limited success and remains elusive.

The Center for Nutritional Programming in Aquaculture (CNPA) was founded by a joint investment of  Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research (IOLR) and ICA at the beginning of 2014 as part of the IOLR institute in Eilat; The National Center for Mariculture. The establishment of this center was based on the urgent need for focused R&D that will produce epigenetic protocols to program fish to absorb feed nutrients much more efficiently and that will be directly applicable to the industry. In 2014 we established the CNPA’s scientific infrastructure, advanced personal training and initiated a pilot project aimed to create specific fish lines as a tool to manipulate physiological pathways that govern protein absorption. The first practical and promising results were achieved by the use of a specific feed additive that significantly reduced the requirement for fishmeal in the white groupers diet without compromising growth. This initiative will continue and expand in scope in 2015.  Further investment by the IOLR and ICA in scientific infrastructure is planned for 2015 with the aim to strengthen the CNPA’s research capabilities,. This will include the purchase of a scanning laser confocal microscope that will show case the CNPA’s imaging potential.

Needless to say, the CNPA initiative would have never been realized without the belief and support of ICA.  The researchers wish to express their heart-felt and sincere gratitude to ICA for their sponsorship and faith in CNPA, which was and remains crucial for the center’s success.


13 February 2014
On 8.2.14 the red weevil problem at the Valley of Springs was presented on the Israeli TV in order to attract public awareness regarding wide spreading and dangers of this pest.
ICA has been involved in the research carried out at the Valley of Springs R&D in an attempt to find a solution to it.
Today the public at large seems to understand the dangers of the pest that threatens all the date palms in Israel as well as the decorative ones in private gardens.
The following link shows pictures of the damages caused by it.


4 February 2014

One of the projects supported by ICA Foundation is the Fish Disease Center.

Click to enlarge the pictures or download the report file (Hebrew) for details.


13 December 2013
Ms. Sarit Ohana, Principal of the Meginim School in Kiryat Shmona, wrote to update us on a project supported by ICA at her school. The Meginim School in Kiryat Shmoneh opened this year a robotics group in the framework of FLL – First Israel.  The group is composed of 4th and 5th grade students and is accompanied by the science teacher and a computer science student.  
This is the only such group to open in the whole of northern Israel (i.e. from Haifa and above). In the future, further groups will open at Meginim School.  An additional computer kit will be purchased very soon.
The students are excited and hope to win a competition. The school believes that simply exposing the students to this study area and enabling them to participate in a competition is a success in itself.
This dream has come true thanks to ICA Israel, which believed in the school and made a grant available to establish an entrepreneurship class that would expose the students to the world of robotics.



8 December 2013

A new study on dates has been conducted by Dr. Naftali Lazarovitch of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, with the support of ICA.

The study, entitled “Effects of high salinity irrigation on growth, gas-exchange, and photoprotection in date palms”, has been published in Science Direct.


6 August 2013

400 new offspring were recently born in the Seahorses breeding project funded by ICA in Moshav Hatzeva.

Seahorses are truly unique, and not just because of their unusual equine shape. Unlike most other fish, they are monogamous and mate for life. Rarer still, they are among the only animal species on Earth in which the male bears the unborn young.
Male seahorses are equipped with a brood pouch on their ventral, or front-facing, side. When mating, the female deposits her eggs into his pouch, and the male fertilizes them internally. He carries the eggs in his pouch until they hatch, then releases fully formed, miniature seahorses into the water.
ICA approved funding for this project in RSF (Red Sea Farms) facility in Moshav Hatzeva that been breeding marine ornamental fish in the last 4 years. 
Seahorses are protected species under U.N CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).
This project is unique because there are only few farms in the world that are breeding seahorses in captivity, and by starting this project, we will reduce the capture of seahorses in the wild.