Europe presently consumes twice as much seafood as it produces, with imports filling the gap. Despite this fact, aquaculture accounts for about 20% of production in Europe and directly employs some 85 000 people, mostly in rural and coastal areas. In contrast with the development seen in other non EU Mediterranean countries, aquaculture production is stagnating in Europe. This is the reason why the European Commission has proposed the target of a 20% increase in sustainable aquaculture production in the Mediterranean. With the aim of supporting this objective the MedAID project has been born, and its outcomes are expected to be vital in strengthing European marine fish production.
MedAID (Mediterranean Aquaculture Integrated Development) was launched at the beginning of May 2017 and will play a key role in identifying the main success factors for enhancing growth in this increasingly important food production sector. Focusing on sea bream and sea bass, which are two of the key produced species in the Mediterranean, the project will take a comprehensive look at competitiveness and sustainability of the Mediterranean marine fish farming sector. Therefore, all components of the value chain will be addressed by MedAID, these being nutrition and feeding practices, animal health and welfare, genetics and breeding, environmental impact, consumer perception and marketing aspects, the economic efficiency and performance of the sector and regulatory constraints. Working with stakeholders from across the sector, MedAID will propose best practices, innovative tools and practical solutions to the above challenges in order to increase growth and productivity.
MedAID, funded by a 7 million Euro grant from the European Commission´s H2020 Research and Innovation Programme, is coordinated by the Mediterranean Agronomic Institut of Zaragoza (IAMZ-CIHEAM) together with the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology of Catalonia (IRTA), and involves over 30 different organisations from 12 countries, including research institutes, leading universities, producers and international organisations.
According to Bernardo Basurco (IAMZ-CIHEAM) and Dolors Furones (IRTA), coordinators of MedAID, “with the involvement of Europe´s leading aquaculture experts, MedAID will support the development of the sector by contributing knowledge, innovative tools and recommendations for improvements to the sector”.