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Deliverable D3.1 – Development of a combined species SNP Array for the European Sea Bass and the Gilthead Sea Bream

SNP arrays are enabling tools for high-resolution studies of the genetic basis of complex traits, and for incorporating genetic markers to expedite genetic gain in selective breeding programmes. The development of a SNP array for the European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and the gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata) would be of significant importance for Mediterranean aquaculture, as it would allow, among other relevant applications, to implement Genomic Selection (GS).

GS is a method by which genome-wide genetic marker data are used to predict the breeding values of individuals with higher accuracy than pedigree-based methods. Consequently, high-density marker panels have a major potential for accelerating genetic gain of breeding programmes through GS, particularly for traits practically impossible to measure on selection candidates, such as disease resistance.Continue reading

Deliverable D1.3 – Integrated Holistic Assessment of Mediterranean Aquaculture

Aquaculture, besides being an economic activity that generates employment in coastal and rural areas, is a source of food, essential to ensure food security. This is clearly specified in the FAO report The State of Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 (FAO, 2018), which states that “With capture fishery production relatively static since the late 1980s, aquaculture has been responsible for the continuing impressive growth in the supply of fish for human consumption”.

In the Mediterranean, the demand for fishery products has been rising steadily during the last decades, due to an important population growth and an increase in human per capita consumption (CIHEAM, 2010). These developments have caused a growing pressure on Mediterranean fish stocks, most of which (about 78%) are currently being fished at biologically unsustainable levels, according to FAO-GFCM (FAO, 2018b). Thus, as in other areas, Mediterranean countries are facing an important and growing seafood supply deficit that can only be compensated by aquaculture.Continue reading

Strengthening diagnostic capacities and harmonising methods

The MedAID project (Mediterranean Aquaculture Integrated Development) aims to improve the key performance indicators (KPIs) of Mediterranean mariculture and considers health and welfare prerequisites for sustainable and profitable aquaculture in the Mediterranean area. Work-package 4: “Health management and diseases and fish welfare” addresses health issues and endeavours to provide tools and common strategies for the prevention and diagnosis of major diseases by creating an operative and collaborative Mediterranean platform. Task 4.2. “Strengthening diagnostic capacities by harmonising competences” focuses its objectives on i) The establishment of a network between all stakeholders included in diagnostics and health management, and ii) The evaluation of laboratory capacity and strengthening diagnostic capacity at national and regional level focusing on the most important pathogens.Continue reading

Deliverable D4.2 – Report on diagnostic capacities and harmonising methods

The MedAID project (Mediterranean Aquaculture Integrated Development) aims to improve the key performance indicators (KPIs) of Mediterranean mariculture and considers health and welfare prerequisites for sustainable and profitable aquaculture in the Mediterranean area. Work package 4: “Health management and diseases and fish welfare” addresses health issues and endeavours to provide tools and common strategies for the prevention and diagnosis of major diseases by creating an operative and collaborative Mediterranean platform. Task 4.2. “Strengthening diagnostic capacities by harmonising competences” focuses its objectives on i) The establishment of systems for communication between key players within diagnostics and health management, and ii) The evaluation of laboratory capacity and strengthening of diagnostic competence at national and regional level focusing on the most important pathogens. Given that European sea bass and Gilthead sea bream diseases are listed neither in OIE aquatic code nor in EU legislation, and there are no standards for the improvement of their health, the first step was to define the most relevant diseases requiring improved diagnostics methodologies. The list of the most important diseases was created as a product of several activities: i) results of the survey organised by European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) for Fish and Crustacean Diseases for fish diseases addressed to a group of fish pathologists from the Mediterranean region consisted of questions designated to identify and characterise the most important diseases and map the health issues and infectious diseases, ii) the working group discussions during the annual meetings of national reference laboratories for fish diseases organised to define the perception of the impact and risk of infectious fish diseases in different parts of Europe, iii) data collected during the “Workshop on animal health and risk analysis in finfish aquaculture in the Mediterranean and Black Sea” organised by GFCM, in Larnaca, Cyprus on 3-4 October 2018 and iv) the results described in the MedAID “Assessment of the sustainability of Mediterranean aquaculture” (project Deliverable 1.2). These documents streamlined the selection of viral and bacterial diseases needing harmonised and improved diagnostic protocols. The diagnostic procedures for selected viral and bacterial diseases  are described in the MedAID’s “Diagnostic manual for the main pathogens in European sea bass and Gilthead sea bream aquaculture”. The diagnostic manual consists of the detailed protocols for sampling, shipping and receipt of samples in the laboratory, followed by protocols for diagnosis of Viral Nervous Necrosis (VNN), Vibriosis caused by V. anguillarum and V. harveyi, Photobacteriosis, infections caused by Aeromonas spp., Tenacibaculum spp., Mycobacterium spp., procedures in the case of mortalities caused by unknown pathogens and reporting of the results of diagnostic procedures. This manual can be a very useful document to improve individual laboratory competence, select the methods to be harmonized and secure confidence in test results throughout the Mediterranean basin. The diagnostic manual will be published in journal “Option Mediterannennes” by the end of the current year.

The capacity of a laboratory to diagnose and genotype VNN was evaluated by means of interlaboratory proficiency testing and it was concluded that there is a room for improvement, particularly in the ability of laboratories to genotype different genotypes of NNV.

Using Google forms, in cooperation with the PerformFISH H2020 Project, the diagnostic capacities of fifty-two laboratories throughout the Mediterranean basin were evaluated. It is concluded that capacities are not in tune with the aquaculture production and the pathways of improvement and strengthening should be imposed. More efforts should be put into building the capacities of countries lacking specific techniques, and systems for improved training of laboratory personnel is highly requested.

The process of strengthening diagnostic capacities started through activities such as the establishment of the MedAID Online Health Forum (which has already launched 3 open discussions on topics such as Sparicotylosis, VNN and Tenacibaculosis) and by organising advanced training courses for professionals on Aquatic Animal Health (as the two courses organised by CIHEAM with collaboration of MedAID and other importante international partners. The above mentioned Diagnostic Manual will also contribute to the aim of enhancing diagnostic capacities. Such activities are important to sustain as pillars for improving disease management in the Mediterranean.

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Deliverable D6.2 – Market dynamics

MedAID task 6.2 focuses on the analysis of market equilibrium by the estimation of the supply and demand functions at various levels of the value chain and under different competitive environments.  The market for seabass and seabream is periodically shocked by instability and price volatility, seriously compromising the profitability of the business and the survival of the industry (STECF, 2014, 2016, 2018). The analysis performed here attempts to identify the causes of this instability and to be used as reference for the development of strategic marketing recommendations to avoid upcoming risks and failures.

The analysis is performed at different levels which involve long and short term, international and national markets and disaggregated by value chain levels. Every model was tested for those National markets where information is available, with the required periodicity and in long enough series to fit with the minimum sample size. Unfortunately these data are not available or complete for all countries in the required format. However, the main national markets, covering about three quarters of total seabass and seabream consumption and production, are included in the analysis in one or several models.Continue reading

Seminar on Common pathological problems in marine fish farms and hatcheries as well as the role of biosecurity in preventing their spread

Last month, on 12 June 2019, more than 50 experts attended the MedAID seminar on “Common pathological problems in marine fish farms and hatcheries as well as the role of biosecurity in preventing their spread”, which was held in Alexandria, Egypt, at the National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (NIOF). During the seminar, experts from NIOF, the University of Alexandria, the University of Cairo, and CIHEAM Zaragoza presented the project MedAID and the topic “Diseases and biosecurity, the most prevalent diseases affecting marine fish farming in Egypt and in Spain”, as well as the preliminary results of the survey conducted in Spain on Biosecurity measures and management in marine fish farming. The participants discussed the impacts of disease in marine fish farms and possible control measures, including the levels of biosecurity that could be implemented.Continue reading

Local workshop on “Disease prevalence and biosecurity in Spanish marine fish farming”

Last week, on March 28, 2019, took placed in Zaragoza a MedAID Seminar of the Spanish Working Group of the Work-package 4 on Health management, diseases and animal welfare. Forty experts from all the steps of the aquaculture value chain working on fish diseases diagnosis, management and prevention met to analyze the current situation the regarding prevalence of main diseases, about biosecurity measures and the need for a further communication and coordination among involved experts, companies and institutions.

Economic performance indicators for aquaculture

This brief text aims to highlight some of the most common economic indicators used to assess the economic performance of aquaculture production, both from the point of view of the industry as a whole, and from the point of view of aquaculture companies*.
In economics, there is no consensus on which indicator would best determine the economic performance of a sector or company. Indeed, there are used several indicators depending on what is the focus of interest (e.g. the society or the companies) and data availability. Different indicators are usually used or combined depending on the object of analysis. The same profitability indicator used to analyse the economic performance of the investments made, is not suitable to study the economic performance for the owners of the company.
In order to show the main indicators in a simple and clear way, we have divided the text into three sections. Firstly, we describe some of the main indicators used to analyse the economic situation at industry level. Next, we highlight the importance of the relative indicators as a tool to develop comparisons between different countries, production systems or types of companies. Finally, although all the indicators mentioned in the two first sections are also used in the economic analyses at company level, we dedicate the third section to explain other relative indicators that are very important when analysing the economic performance of aquaculture companies.Continue reading

European and Mediterranean Aquaculture data collection and reporting under the STECF

Fisheries and aquaculture are managed under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)
Managing the exploitation of fish and shellfish stocks in European marine waters falls under the European Union (EU)’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which was formally established in 1983 (Council of the European Communities, 1983), and has since undergone reforms in 1992, 2002, and 2013 (EU, 2013). The scope of the CFP extends to joint conservation, management and exploitation of living aquatic resources by EU member states, with the objective of biological, economic and social sustainability.

The CFP requires considering scientific advice (based on Dörner et al., 2018)
The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE – (https://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs) is the European Commission’s department responsible for implementation of the CFP. The CFP explicitly requires the European Commission to take ‘into account available scientific, technical and economic advice’ (EU, 2013) when drafting legislative proposals for the European Parliament and Council. Accordingly, European Commission proposals relating to fisheries management must be based on scientific advice. Hence implementation of the CFP requires both the assistance of specialised experts and the availability of high-quality data and analyses. The European Commission’s own expert scientific independent advisory body on fisheries and aquaculture is the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF – https://stecf.jrc.ec.europa.eu/index.html). The STECF is being consulted at regular intervals on matters pertaining to the conservation and management of living aquatic resources, including biological, economic, environmental, social and technical considerations (European Commission, 2016). The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) also has a role in the scientific advisory process by providing advice directly to DG MARE, through participation in the STECF and its Expert Working Groups (EWGs).Continue reading