Aerial view of IRTA Centre at San Carles de la Ràpita (Delta del Ebro, Tarragona, Spain)

The aquaculture industry is in a period of total reinvention around the world, but at Mediterranean level there is a need to increase the competitiveness and sustainability of the whole value chain, because even although there seems to be an acceleration in the reorganization of the sector, there has not been a significant increase in production.

Aquaculture as a business generates an economic interest but, above all, we cannot forget that aquaculture is a source of food, crucial and essential to feed humanity and to ensure the world’s food security. This is clearly specified in the analysis document of the State of Fisheries and Aquaculture FAO 2016, which states that “aquaculture will become the main driver of change in the fisheries and aquaculture sector“. Aquaculture is the productive industrial activity that will play a crucial role in providing solutions to the millennium challenges. Globally this is the main idea that exists under the MedAID EU Horizon 2020 project, increasing the overall competitiveness and sustainability of the whole value chain in the Mediterranean marine aquaculture sector and contributing to provide solutions.

In WP1, “Holistic sustainability assessment of Mediterranean marine fish farming sector” the idea is to provide an overview of all the components of the value chain and assist the other WPs in their execution. To succeed in this challenge we will start from the knowledge that we get from surveys addressed to the sector, which we will conduct with certain companies (hatcheries and fattening) that produce / grow seabass or/and seabream. In this way, we will collect data in order to know what the producers think about the current situation and to have a description of the most relevant problems of the industry from their point of view.

The results obtained from the surveys will be used to analyze the information from a wider perspective, including an analysis of the economic background, zootechnical and fish health problems, product developing and marketing and governance issues. Therefore, this new knowledge will serve to solve problems that are a direct consequence of some specific needs of the sector and will help to understand and define the Mediterranean aquaculture and how it behaves.

In this part of the research, state-of-the-art methodologies and other analytical approaches will also be applied to uncover patterns of findings in the field, discover gaps in knowledge that lead to future research questions and other issues that play a role in policy-making.

We will approach innovatively farm data collection models and complex data analysis procedures based on socio- and bio-economic data supported by the other MedAID partners, and used in other EU Projects. Thus, through the analysis of zootechnical improvements, key indicators of improvement can be established to know the true impact of diseases and their productive cost. Applying models based on the analysis of life cycles, approaching environmental and social sustainability, in order to identify the different business models will enable us to compare them and, ultimately, to provide tools to help improve governance.

So, based on this database of farms, the main deliverable of WP1 will be the sustainability assessment by integrating the assessment of the zootechnical key indicators, the assessment of environmental and social values, the impact of diseases and the global impact in the market and the industry economic performance, without forgetting the governance and social acceptability of the Mediterranean aquaculture.

If we understand well where we are, what we have done and what is needed, the solutions proposed in the various technical WPs can significantly contribute to improving the competitiveness of the producing sector and the other stakeholders.

WP1 is leading by Cristobal Aguilera and Carmen Reverté

Cristóbal Aguilera, BSc in Biological Sciences (University of Barcelona). He is currently the Innovation Manager in Aquaculture at IRTA and has been ACUIPLUS Cluster Manager until June 2016. He has 25 years of top management experience in leading Spanish and International aquaculture companies in the production of many marine fish species, dealing with marine fish hatcheries and production management. He is a regular lecturer in postgraduate and MSc courses and a guest speaker in conferences. Collaborator in the interactive portal “Aquatour” of Aquamedia, FEAP and aquaculture Blogger.

Carmen Reverté, PhD in Information Management. She has 15 years’ experience in information management in digital systems and databases; and has spent the last 10 years working in IRTA’s Watching Technology and Business Intelligence Unit as information scientist and expert in web tools for the systematic procedure of capturing, analysing and exploiting useful information for strategic decision making, providing IRTA’s research and business departments with access to information-technology to ensure its competitiveness and bring new business opportunities.

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