Get to know: Kefalonia Fisheries S.A.

We asked Ms. Evi Abatzidou to tell her story about Kefalonia Fisheries. Here is what she has to say.

Please briefly introduce your company and what you do at the company

Kefalonia Fisheries S.A., established in 1981, is a global leader in the farming and distributing Mediterranean Aquaculture products of high quality with high environmental responsibility. During the 3.5 decades of operation, KF has always been a pioneer in the development of aquaculture production and marketing strategies that makes the company one of the most competitive and profitable in the sector. Some milestones of the company are: (1) First aquaculture company that produced sea bass and sea bream in Greece, (2) First company with vertical production of sea bass and sea bream, with complete traceability in all production stages, from egg to final product (fish), (3) First aquaculture company certified for organic production of sea bass and sea bream in Greece, (4) Award-winning company with the Superior Taste Award Certification of (international Taste & Quality institute) for sea bass.

At the moment, Kefalonia Fisheries employs more than 200 people, produces and sells over 5 million of fry and over than 5.000 tons of sea bass and sea bream. The annual sales of the company exceed 30 million Euros. More than 80% of the production is exported, mostly in Italy, France, U.A.E., U.S.A and others (more than 15 more countries).

The company owns a number of certifications related to the ensuring the quality, safety and sustainability of the production. Such certifications are: ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 22000, Fish from Greece, Global G.A.P., Friends of the sea for sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture, ASC, Naturland e.V. and the EU organic standard for organic aquaculture.

I work in Kefalonia Fisheries since 1986 and I am responsible for fry production and the R&D department. I oversee all aspects of the hatchery, including the management of personnel, fish and equipment. I track the fish cycles to determine harvest and release time. I am also responsible for our breeding program and fry quality. Since 2015, I supervise all research programs of our company.

Why do you find it important to participate in H2020 projects? What are the benefits for you ?

With particular interest in the continuous improvement of production techniques, the efficient population management in farms, the advancement of the nutritional profile of the final product, the development of sustainable practices and the welfare of fish, Kefalonia Fisheries has participated in several national and European research projects, regarding the development of new sea bass and sea bream products, biotechnology for the growth and the exploitation of micro- and macro- algae, the use of new technologies for the quality control and the sustainable management of aquaculture and the quality control of the final product.

Our participation in Future EUaqua project was focused mainly on large scale feeding trials using innovative, sustainable, conventional and organic feeds. This is just one task of the project among many others, like: sustainable breeding, innovative optimal production systems, monitoring technologies of the environmental impact on fish health and welfare, consumer awareness, etc.

We find that H2020 platform provides us with the perfect innovative tools, helping us to fulfill all our goals.

What are your main challenges and how the project can contribute to overcome these?

Our company’s main interests and research pillars are always sustainability, circular economy, innovation, quality and fish welfare. Horizon 2020 couples innovation and research, giving emphasis on excellent science and industrial leadership, thus creating the perfect platform for promoting our interests. Combining the industrial work and public research in multidisciplinary consortia of RTD Centers, large companies, SMEs and Associations, H2020 programs deliver innovation by tackling a large spectrum of societal challenges.

Participating in Horizon 2020 program, provides us with the cutting edge knowledge and innovative technology, which is essential in keeping us competitive at a global level.

How can the Internet of Things (IoT) enhance fish health and welfare?

The fish farming industry needs instruments that can monitor in real time fish health and welfare objectively, without killing or disturbing the fish or interfering with the daily management. The main aim to exploit the potential of Internet of Things (IoT) is to contribute to the development of sustainable and resilient aquaculture systems that ensures profitability, maintains healthy aquatic ecosystems and strengthens capacity for adaptation to climate change. 

In the framework of the FutureEUaqua project, COISPA is committed to develop and test a multiplatform tracking system for simultaneously monitoring the activity and physiology of fish, as well as the main parameters of the environment where they are farmed, by using a wireless communication system. The study of aquatic animals (eg fish behaviour, condition, physiology) and the farming environment presents unique challenges to scientists because of the physical characteristics of water.

Enhanced environmental (e.g. oxygen, temperature, salinity, pressure) and biological (e.g. behaviour, activity, energetic, feeding physiology) sensor data, collected by a network of wireless electronic sensors, can provide accurate fine-scale measurements of environmental conditions, fish health, welfare and habitat use, average fish size and biomass, thus facilitating predictive modelling of the rearing performances and impacts.

The real-time wireless communication system and sensor network for the large-scale FutureEUAqua demonstration activities have been defined. The real-time wireless communication system and sensor network envisaged for the FutureEUAqua large scale demonstration activities includes a cloud platform that communicates wireless underwater, based on the technology offered by Real-time aquaculture ( and a family of compact, submersible environmental sensors, with underwater and in-air wireless communications. This technology enables data-driven ocean farming where knowledge drives better decisions. The system architecture is shown here:

Progress in the testing of physiological sensors technologies

Understanding the impacts of environmental change and human activity on farmed fish can be greatly enhanced by using electronic sensors. Enhanced biological (e.g. behaviour, activity, energetic, feeding physiology) sensor data, collected by on-board electronic tags provide accurate fine-scale measurements of fish health and welfare during the large-scale demonstration activities in the project.

Before the large-scale demonstration, we firstly needed to establish a baseline of information for each of the target species, i.e. for gilthead seabream and seabass.

The objective was to find a calibration model of the tailbeat tag activity as a function of the i) critical swimming speed, ii) oxygen consumption and metabolic rate, iii) electromyograms. Less availability of anaerobic energetic reserves has consequences for the reactivity of stress systems, reflecting on a reduced ability of the fish to compensate stressful events.

The calibration tests provided us a model to assess fine-scale measurements of the fish physiological state and the ability to cope with stressful events.

In the telemetry laboratory at COISPA the swimming chambers are used to measure the physiological performances of fish. Click on a photo to see it in full size. All photos: COISPA

During these tests, in addition to other metabolic parameters, it is possible to measure the swimming ability, the energy budget available to face the challenges, the oxygen consumption, the recruitment of the red and white muscles (aerobic/anaerobic activity).

The fish is placed in a tube where the speed of the water can be adjusted, forcing the fish to swim upstream in different speed. Watch it here at slow and fast speds.

Development of biomass estimation sensing system

Fish biomass estimation is one of the most common and important practices in aquaculture. The relationship between the shape of the fish and the mass is well known. The mass of the fish is calculated from its geometric measurements using empirical relationships that depend on the species and condition of the fish.

Recent, rapid technological enhancements in video cameras improved the utility and accuracy of biomass assessment in cage aquaculture by means of stereovision.

The system tested in the laboratory of the University of Thessaly is based on stereovision and provides a way to accurately measure fish in their cages in a non-invasive manner and without the need to physically access the off-shore installation. At the same time, this is achieved utilizing easily accessible, but highly capable, modern, “off-the-shelf” hardware thereby driving the overall costs of such an installation down.

The system, illustrated below, consists of a stereo camera encased in a waterproof housing, a gateway device and an on-shore endpoint computer. Normal video and depth data are periodically captured by the camera and transmitted via wire to the gateway device situated above the surface of the water, on the rim of the cage. This data is later transmitted wirelessly to shore where it is further processed before finally being utilized by the user software to acquire the desired measurements.