In the spotlight3

In the Spotlight: Constantinos MYLONAS and Elena SARROPOULOU

 

i) What is your contribution to the MedAID project?
In MedAID, we are working in Workpackage 2 (WP2-Improving Zootechnical Performance).  In this WP we work on the improvement of rearing conditions and feeding strategies that are fundamental to improve the key performance indicators of European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata).  The research addresses current gaps in fish feeding, management practices and fish behavior, welfare and interlinks with genetics (WP3). Research is carried out not only in experimental laboratory trials and pilot tests, but also at farm level through case studies in Spain and Greece.
Within this WP, we participate as the leader of subtask 2.2.1-Effects of temperature in European seabass during larval development (Epigenetics), which has as objective to study the role of epigenetics on sex differentiation, growth, development and quality.  Progress in research has revealed a significant role of epigenetic signals due to temperature changes, water quality variations, as well as developmental cues.  In this task, we will acquire the first insights on the epigenetic impact of early rearing temperature in seabass, in the form of DNA methylation and small RNA during development, as well as their long-term effects on sex differentiation, growth, development and quality.

ii) Why is this research needed?
Rearing under aquaculture conditions is very different from the wild.  Aspects such as water temperature, photoperiod, stocking density, feeding and husbandry may be quite different.  It has been recognized more and more in recent years, that epigenetic modifications (i.e. changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself) take place during early development in cultured fish, and have long-lasting influences in many important physiological aspects, such as sex differentiation (affecting the sex ratio of the population), age of puberty, growth, metabolism, behavior, etc.  So, it is important to not only develop breeding selection programs that will develop special fish lines with the desired productive traits (growth rate, flesh quality and resistance to diseases), but also to understand the influence of early rearing on epigenetic modifications, which can influence greatly the performance of these selected lines.  The European seabass is one of the main aquaculture species in the Mediterranean.  Epigenetic effects, as well as regulative mechanisms of small RNA have not yet been investigated in this species.  The involvement of miRNA expression during development has been reported only in one study looking at early developmental stages. The rapid advancement in sequencing technologies and the increasing molecular resources for the European seabass, including the genome sequence, supports the efficient investigation of epigenetic mechanisms.

iii) What are the main expected outcomes/or possible impacts on the sector?
We expect to gain more knowledge on the influence of one key husbandry parameter in European seabass (i.e. rearing temperature during larval rearing), on epigenetic modification of a number of relevant genes -especially related to sex differentiation and sex control- in order to optimize the rearing conditions used by the industry in the way that the best outcome will be expressed.  We expect to identify and characterize important molecular mechanisms during early development, by generating a global DNA methylation and miRNA atlas. We also aim to identify the long-term effects of different temperatures during the early stages of the European seabass on sex differentiation, growth, development and quality. The outcome may be of importance also to other important aquaculture fish species. In addition, as the relevance of climate change is steadily increasing and global warming is becoming a visible threat to natural populations, this study will contribute to better understanding of how increasing temperature of the water can affect the performance of Mediterranean fish species.

iv) What other projects/activities are you working on?v2 DIVERSIFY Logo_sm
We are currently working in a project on the diversification of aquaculture with new species (FP7, DIVERSIFY).  This 5-year project (2013-2018) with 38 partners from Europe has been studying six new/emerging finfish species with a great potential for the aquaculture industry. As the project is coming to an end, the important industry-relevant information will be presented in specialized workshops focused on fish farmers, which will take place in different countries around Europe, between May and October 2018.  Information and registration can be obtained from the project website.
We are also actively involved in the European Research and Innovation project, EMBRIC (European Marine Biological Research Infrastructure Cluster) comprising case studies to test and improve the quality of workflows and the connectivity of the cluster.

 


Constantinos C MYLONAS (Director of Research)
Elena SARROPOULOU (Lab Director)
Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR), Crete, Greece.

WP 2 – Improving Zootechnical Performance

 

portada

The Need for Simplicity and Multidisciplinary Approaches in Aquaculture

Whenever a new technology with direct effect on our activity comes to light, it usually dazzles us. That first flash, the glow of novelty, is sometimes so intense that we forget the basics and focus on finding a direct, immediate application for it; and if it is a complex application, so much the better.

If we look at the unmet needs of farmers, as we are doing in projects such as MedAID or PerformFish, we realise the importance of ignoring those dazzling flashes and of the obligation to adopt a multidisciplinary approach based on simplicity, although in order to reach this simplicity, first we must go through a process that is apparently very complex. Such is our case.

We cannot forget that, ultimately, we are facing the frustration of not being able to solve the major challenges to Industry. Therefore, what could be better than asking the dissatisfied about the reasons for their dissatisfaction? If most of the experts, from very different backgrounds, agree on this, it must be true that simplicity is more efficient than excessive complexity based on an unquestioned belief in the analysis of the extraordinarily complex. In addition, I believe that open, simple approaches, without expecting anything a priori, are aesthetically much more appealing. I fully agree with Enrique de Mora (@enriquedemora)’s assessment in his “Keep it simple” post, where he states that:

“One should appeal to simplicity in communicating, creating, establishing goals, managing time, making decisions, designing structures and organisations and, of course, establishing relations. Simplicity is always more efficient.”

When we ask the aquaculture farm managers, technicians, marketing directors, opinion leaders and various experts for their views on the industry, on the strategy that will ensure the future of aquaculture and on the impact of research into that strategy, we get a diversity of answers, based on their personal point of view and on the current situation.

It seems that their opinions are not always aligned with the official positions or with those of the companies or the organisations that they work for. However there is a general agreement that if science is integrated within the strategy of Industry, there is a high probability that the result will lead to a high impact.

We find the use of a systemic approach to the problem to be very helpful. It allows us to stay focused as we work, since what we are actually doing is adjust the development of solutions to what we get directly through the questions. Perhaps we reach the conclusion that we need to change our scientific approach, how we exercise leadership, manage companies or how associations are shaped, perhaps even infrastructures and capabilities need to be redesigned, as already pointed out. The truth is that, at this time we do not know for sure, but maybe we should be prepared to, just in case.

What are the similarities? Why are they repeated in other agricultural industries almost in the same way? Which complex technologies will help us make things simple? Are we addressing the solution properly in the field of aquaculture?

As far as similarities are concerned, there seems to be some consensus in five key areas:

1. The performance of aquaculture farms must improve in order to close the gap between performance and efficiency. The lack of efficiency is caused by technical and socio-economic factors.
2. The future of the aquaculture production system will only be ensured if a “win-win” situation is achieved.
3. Intelligent solutions for animal health must be developed.
4. This development must be based on the design of innovative products for health and nutrition.
5. Progress will be based on industries with a strong biological and technological background.

When considering the deep, biotechnology-based changes that will have a clear influence and transform the aquaculture industry in the coming years, and which will affect both developed and developing countries, we observe an extraordinary coincidence with the agro-food sector, particularly on its commercial side. In fact, the advantage of simplification is that it helps us see things without resorting to overly complex alternatives. Therefore, we should be prepared, if we are not already, to deal with the forces that will drive innovation:

1. Real governance is finally here. Regulatory pressures on the use of inputs will grow with respect to water resources and new sources of raw materials, i.e. the biological sources that should replace the traditional ones.
2. Transversality has arrived and new layers of sophistication will be added to crops, such as precision farming approaches.
3. The gap between performance and efficiency will be reduced when we are able to transform low profitability crops into highly profitable ones.
4. To do so, new investment-stimulating factors, such as insurance based on big data analysis, will be incorporated. Guaranteeistic-style models have arrived.
5. Design aimed to boost crop improvement, perhaps based on the deep knowledge of specific individuals and their relationship with the environment. We are approaching the concept of customised medicine, at fish level, at group level…

einstein-simpleThe technologies that should help us are already here, they have been with us for some time. But now they are being incorporated into the aquaculture industry through a multidisciplinary process. Robotics, the massive integration of data, the incorporation of Bioinformatics models, genome editing, metagenomics, nanotechnology… are all here to be used, and they are starting to be.

We will now be able to determine whether we are appropriately addressing what the aquaculture industry defines as dissatisfaction, which is nothing more than a simple way to define the complexity of this sector.

Translation of original post by Cristóbal Aguilera published on his blog Spotlight on aquaculture on 15 January 2018

WordItOut-word-cloud-2871840

20 ways to understand a Cluster

The open session for reflection upon innovation challenges in the aquaculture sector took place yesterday. The event was organised by Acuiplus with the collaboration of the Spanish Aquaculture Association (SEA) and the Technical School of Agricultural, Food and Biosystems Engineering of Madrid.

The Acuiplus cluster aims at providing a meeting point among companies from the aquaculture sector in order to foster innovation and promote cooperation, complementarity and communication. Thus, it endeavours to contribute to the improvement of competitiveness, impact and international visibility of its members. Acuiplus comprises more than 25 firms and institutions which belong to the aquaculture industry’s value chain.

Our colleague Cristóbal Aguilera, Co-Leader of WP1 (Holistic sustainability assessment of Mediterranean aquaculture: zootechnical, environmental, economic, social and governance), wrote this excellent article which perfectly summarises what a cluster is.

The advantage of sharing experiences is that, when in favourable conditions, powerful dynamics which help understand ecosystems emerge. In this case, as observer in the Acuiplus Cluster’s reflection session, I take home with me astonishing cross-disciplinary knowledge.

Here is a compilation of 20 ways to understand a cluster inspired by participants’ discussion:

1. A cluster is a platform one should be involved in, since it is a constructive way to exchange information and achieve progress.
2. A cluster enhances training as a strategy to establish connections.
3. A cluster is a support tool.
4. A cluster is a way of living; a free spirit that drives growth.
5. A cluster is a space for generosity.
6. A cluster promotes cooperation on sustainability and real competitiveness.
7. A cluster is a comfort zone to add and gain competitiveness
8. A cluster is a space where complexity is managed.
9. A cluster is an innovative ecosystem.
10. A cluster is a shared growth area where people can help one another through their own experiences.
11. A cluster is a place to share failures and strengthen active listening.
12. A cluster is useful for managing knowledge and networking.
13. A cluster is a cohesive element.
14. A cluster is a space where dreams come true.
15. A cluster is a space where a global and shared vision is created.
16. A cluster makes best use of cross-sectionality.
17. A cluster is an element to create further opportunities.
18. A cluster is a space to generate hybrid opportunities and business intelligence.
19. A cluster is a space to share knowledge and leverage ideas.
20. A cluster is a public area in which sustainability, knowledge management and sharing converge. It is a space where impossible connections flow, where training comes from unimaginable sources and which serves as an agora for osmotic learning.

Translation of original post by Cristóbal Aguilera published on his blog Spotlight on aquaculture on 15 March 2018

Group of participants (1)

MedAID experts participate in a course on advances in fish reproduction and their application to broodstock management

IAMZ-CIHEAM, together with IATS_CSIC, has organised a specialised course for professionals on Advances in fish reproduction and their application to broodstock management from 19-23 February 2018, at Torre de la Sal, Castellón, Spain.

As in many other parts of the world, fish farming is expanding rapidly in the Mediterranean, where for certain species, particularly trout, sea bream, sea bass, tilapia, carp and mullet, aquaculture already makes up most of the production. The development of intensive culture is conditioned by the control of reproduction and broodstock management, thus facilitating permanent supply of constant and optimum quality fry, so as to permit large-scale culture up to market size.

The course revises the most recent advances in the study of regulation and control of reproductive fish processes and in the internal and external factors controlling and modulating reproduction. The environmental, hormonal, molecular, behavioural and stress factors, and genetic instruments currently available for an effective control of all these reproductive processes have been presented, including cryoconservation of gametes. The course includes several practical sessions coordinated by IATS-CSIC: i.e. broodstock handling, evaluation of the state of broodstock maturation and the quality of eggs and sperm, hormonal induction of spawning and of artificial fertilisation, and induction of triploidy and gynogenesis.

Thirty professionals from 12 countries are attending the course, representing industry (e.g. marine hatcheries), oceanography and fisheries institutes and firms, as well as research centres and universities. The course is delivered by 13 international experts from research centres, universities and companies from across Europe.

Several partners from MedAID participate in the course both as guest lecturers (i.e. C. Mylonas from HCMR, and C. Aguilera and N. Duncan from IRTA) and as participants (i.e. N. Abou Shanana from NIOF, from K. Gamsiz Univ of Ege, and K. Tsakonitui from Galaxidi).

aguinaga_azti-990x400

Meet our team – WP5 – Product development, market and consumer assessment

The changes that the European consumer is experiencing in terms of new lifestyles, trends and habits in food purchasing and consumption, and others as increasing food environmental awareness, are influencing the development of innovations in the food market regarding new products concepts but also affecting production and market strategies and commercialization channels.

Mediterranean aquaculture industry faces these new challenges in an increasingly globalized market with competitiveness as the key factor and in which Innovations in the supply chain are as important as innovations in production. With and Increasing fish demand Aquaculture will be the clearly most important seafood production technology in next years.

More product innovation and the development of new products for new markets is clearly needed for a more long-term competitive supply-demand equilibrium of Mediterranean aquaculture.  In MedAID EU Horizon 2020 project through a holistic point of view, these needs area approached taking into account the fact that aquaculture seafood products themselves include a set of interrelated services such as availability,  logistics, cost efficiency, harvesting and production technology, food safety, labelling, sustainability and environmental and social impact.

In WP5Product development, market and consumer assessment”, the multidisciplinary work team is formed by AZTI (Spain), Aarhus University/MAPP (Denmark), HCMR (Greece), IRTA (Spain) and three farming companies from Italy, France and Greece (Compagnie Ittiche Riunite, Poisson du Soleil and Galaxidi Marine Farm S.A.). We will address the development of different product alternatives of specific Mediterranean aquaculture fish species (mainly seabass, gilthead seabream and meagre) for commercial exploitation, analyzing the potential of different market opportunities, and taking into account socio-economic aspects and consumer requirements.

Keeping in mind that consumers purchase options are conditioned by what is offered by distributors and other aquaculture seafood products supply actors and also that “consumers’ attitude towards Fishery and Aquaculture products varies according to their socio-demographic category” (EU consumer habits regarding fishery and aquaculture products EUMOFA 2017) in WP5 we will work to:

– Encourage participation of the economic and business stakeholders, representatives of the Mediterranean aquaculture sector (farmers, retailers, caterers, consumer organizations and commercial experts in aquaculture) in  the identification of product and market requirements.

– Identify the best market solution for each type of fish species, transforming them into new value-added products; fresh and convenience products, ready-to eat, new presentations to boost  Mediterranean aquaculture products high quality sensory and nutritional properties (smell, bones).

– Satisfy the needs of different consumer profiles (children, youngest and senior population) and different times of consumption, defining consumer segments with the highest potencial to endorse new high added-value Mediterranean aquaculture products and offering products adapted to all lifestyles.

– Introduce aquaculture products adapted to the needs of the different steps of the supply chain (farmers and processors, direct and indirect distribution channel in currently and under-exploited channels, like HoReCa and food caterers (e.g. school, university and hospital canteens).

The expected impact of the work undertaken will be to enhance the competitiveness of Mediterranean aquaculture by improving its market performance through a supply chain-wide, market-oriented design of diversified or new types of added-value fish products for EU consumers and food supply actors.

More information about the AZTI
More information about Marine research projects and Food research projects AZTI are working on

WP1 is leading by Irene Peral, Begoña Alfaro and Saioa Ramos

Sin título

Irene Peral, BSc in Veterinary Science. She is a R&D&I Senior researcher at AZTI’s Food Research Unit with more than 18 years of experience in new seafood products development and food processing technologies. She has been working close to agro-food industry and involved in R&D&i activities and technology transfer. She has participated in more than 35 RTD projects for different public-private organizations in the Food Industry and is author of 3 food processing patents related to fish products innovations, 2 of which are being industrially exploited.

Begoña Alfaro (PhD in Food Science and Technology). Currently she is the Manager of Sensory & Consumer Sciences Laboratory at AZTI. She has more than 20 years of experience in food quality and safety. Experience in Sensory and Consumer Research for Product Development. She has participated in 38 research and industrial projects for the agro-food sector at national and international level and has 30 publications related to food quality and safety.  She has participated in several EU-projects and international food and sensory organizations (European Sensory Science Society, E3S, European Association for Food Safety, and the SAFE consortium).

Saioa Ramos (PhD in Environmental Agrobiology). She has more than 10 years of experience performing environmental assessment in agrifood industry and has participated in more than 20 research and industrial projects resulting in more than 20 publications related to food sustainability. Currently she is a researcher at the Sustainable and Efficient Processes Area of AZTI Foundation (Basque Country, Spain), and her work is focused on evaluating environmental and social impact of food products in order to identify improvement actions that minimize overall impact related to the products.

1307001130_orig

DIVERSIFY Project celebrates the 2018 ANNUAL COORDINATION MEETING

From today to the 25th of January, Diversify Project celebrates its ANNUAL COORDINATION MEETING. The first 2 days will be held at the Faculty of Physics, ULL and the 3rd day at the IEO in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The event will be hosted by Drs. Jose Perez and Covadonga Rodriguez (ULL), and Salvador Jerez and Virginia Martin (IEO).

The project is coordinated by our colleague Dinos Mylonas from the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), who takes part in MedAID in Work Package 2 Improving Zootechnical Performance and Work Package 8 Integrated proposals for an innovative and competitive sector.

The Diversify Project explores the biological and socioeconomic potential of new candidate fish species for the expansion of the European aquaculture industry. The fish species to be studied include meagre (Argyrosomus regius) and greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili) for warm-water marine cage culture, wreckfish (Polyprion americanus) for warm- and cool-water marine cage culture, Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) for marine cold-water culture, grey mullet (Mugil cephalus) a euryhaline herbivore for pond/extensive culture, and pikeperch (Sander lucioperca) for freshwater intensive culture using recirculating systems. Research will be carried out in the scientific disciplines of Reproduction and Genetics, Nutrition, Larval Husbandry, Grow out Husbandry, Fish Health and Socioeconomics (including final product quality).

The project DIVERSIFY is funded under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission (7FP-KBBE-2013).  This 5-year-long project (2013-2018) is coordinated by Dr. Constantinos C. Mylonas from the Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture (IMBBC), one of the three institutes of the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR), and has a total budget of 11.8 million Euros for its 5 year duration.

More information about the project
More information about de annual coordination meeting

colaboracion

MedAID and PerformFISH collaborations achievements during 2017

MedAID (Mediterranean Aquaculture Integrated Development), together with PerformFISH (Integrating Innovative Approaches for Competitive and Sustainable Performance across the Mediterranean Aquaculture Value Chain), are two RIA (Research and Innovation Action) which have been approved under the call SFS-23-2016 “Improving the technical performance of the Mediterranean aquaculture”. The Commission and the Project Coordination Teams of PERFORMFISH and MedAID understand the need to establish efficient coordination mechanisms between the two projects in order to avoid duplication of effort, maximise resources, and seek for synergies between the two consortia. Thus, an effective, dynamic and regular collaboration between the two projects is desirable and it has been pursued to increase the scope and soundness of the results, project impacts and its legacy.

After preliminary conversations between the Scientific Coordinators (SCs) of each project, a Coordination Team (CT) formed by the Project Coordinators (PCs) and SCs has been implemented to assure collaboration throughout the lifetime of the Projects. This CT is operating as the communication channel between the two consortia to prepare a Plan of Collaborative Activities along the life of the project. The CT works closely with WP and task leaders of each consortium to define properly the needed actions and their scope.

The yearly Plan of Collaborative Activities includes general transversal activities, such as: common communication and dissemination initiatives, coordinated sessions at conferences and other events and shared dissemination and training actions.

During 2017, we hold several meeting and shared sessions at relevant events, as reported in our newsletter

These above-mentioned transversal collaborative actions are complemented with more specific ones, dealing with common objectives of both projects. During 2017, we have been engaged in the identification of specific collaborative activities with our colleagues from PerformFISH. This exercise has been done during ad hoc meeting between WP and tasks leaders of both consortia.

Regarding WP1, MedAID is developing a Holistic Sustainability Assessment of the Mediterranean Aquaculture Industry, based on the information gathered through on-site surveys. WP1 leader, Cristóbal Aguilera (IRTA), has approached companies from PerformFISH to propose them to participate in the above-mentioned survey.

Collaborative work is ongoing in Genetics and Breeding, by means of a detailed Action Plan for collaboration on a join SNP array development for European seabass and Gilthead seabream.  This work has been carried out by Dr. Costas Tsigenopoulos (leader WP1, PerformFISH), Dr. Luca Bargelloni (Task 1.1 partner, PerformFISH), Dr. Ross Houston (leader Task 3.2, MedAID), Dr. Sonesson (leader WP3, MedAID).

Regarding Health, both project teams have hold meetings, specifically at the EAFP- Belfast, regarding Diagnostics and at the EAS_ Dubrovnik for Welfare. WP’s leaders form MedAID, Dr. Edgar Brun, and PerformFISH, Dr. Francesc Padros, actively participated in these meetings and discussions.

During the EAFP meeting in Belfast, it was concluded that both project have similar approaches in generating a list of laboratories and specialists working on Mediterranean fish species diagnostics in Europe, as well as in harmonizing and improving the diagnostic techniques for fast and accurate diagnostics of most important diseases. Thus, an action plan has been stabilised to collaborate in this component of both projects. The Diagnostics task leaders appointed are Marialetizia Fioravanti with participation of Andrea Gustinelli representing PerformFish_WP3, and Snježana Zrnčić on behalf of MedAID_WP4_ Diagnostics. Currently, we are working together to improve competence and, as a Short term Action, PerformFISH partners interested in  participating  in the VNN interlaboratory comparison testing are welcome, by contacting Dr. Anna Toffan _ IZSVE, who is  organizing and distributing the VNN ILAC under  the umbrella of MedAID.

Moreover, Dr. Ana Roque will Develop the operational welfare indicators (OWI) profile for sea bream in MedAID_WP4 and will shared work with, Dr. Giovanna Marino, who is her counterpart in PerformFISH.

All his work is been carried out under a real time reporting to the CT, and communicated to the project officers in the commission, assuring transparency  and allowing efficient planning for both projects.

Co-creation workshop on “Mediterranean Aquaculture: Trends & New product ideas”

aguinaga_azti

On 30 November 2017, in Derio (Spain) our colleagues from AZTI, leader of the WP5: Product development, market and consumer assessment, have organized a Co-creation workshop on “Mediterranean Aquaculture: Trends & New product ideas”. The workshop is part of the Task 5.1. Product concept development, and it aims to review present Seafood trends and to discuss about the generation of new Seafood product concepts. It will count on the participation of partners from WP-5 and members of the Market Advisory Group (MAG).

MedAID WP5 explores and validates the technical and market feasibility of developing different product alternatives of specific Mediterranean aquaculture fish species (mainly seabass, gilthead seabream and meagre) for commercial exploitation, analyzing the potential of different market opportunities, and taking into account socio-economic aspects and consumer requirements. The expected impact of the work undertaken within WP5 will be to enhance the competitiveness of Mediterranean aquaculture by improving its market performance through a supply chain-wide, market-oriented design of diversified or new types of added-value fish products for EU consumers and food supply actors.

The main objective of the Task 5.1. (Product concept development) is to develop new product ideas from selected species, by incorporating producers’, retailers´ and commercial actors’ input.

Meet our team – WP1 – Holistic sustainability assessment of Mediterranean marine fish farming sector

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.

Aquaculture Europe 2017. Participation of MedAID in the Industry Forum: Cooperation in Mediterranean Aquaculture: A Croatian Perspective

thumb_IMGP3620_1024

The recent main event of the European Aquaculture Society (EAS), Aquaculture Europe 17 – Cooperation for Growth (AE2017), held in the beautiful city of Dubrovnik (Croatia) was again a great success, with 1700 participants from more than 60 countries.

During the congress, as in previous EAS conferences, an industry Forum took place: “Mediterranean Cooperation Industry Forum”. It was a one-day meeting (held on 20th September 2017), to deal with the main challenges that Mediterranean aquaculture must face.

The aim of the Industry forum was to bring together scientists and practitioners from different fields of Mediterranean aquaculture (nutrition, marketing, breeding, health and welfare) to address these aspects and explore further actions to improve cooperation in the region with the fish farmers, mainly of the sea bass and sea bream industry. Ninety attendees participated in this dynamic exercise.

The Forum was organised by Ivan Katavić, Giovanna Marino and Snježana Zrnčić, and scheduled with presentations for each of the 5 mentioned topics, so as to initiate and facilitate further Group discussion, guided and moderated by the panellists: Vlasta Franićević, Katerina Moutou, Dolors Furones, Marisol Izquierdo, Francesc Padros, Hans Van de Vis, Hans Komen, Edgar Brun and Renata Baric.

The first session of this Industry Forum was dedicated to the presentation of two H2020 Projects on Mediterranean Aquaculture, which started in May 2017. Thus, following an overview of the main issues affecting Croatian aquaculture, the coordinators of PerformFish (Katerina Moutou ) and MedAID (Dolors Furones), presented the main goals of their projects, and the approach used to tackle the biological, technical and operational weaknesses of the Mediterranean industry in order to improve the performance of the sea bream and sea bass aquaculture, and foster sustainable growth through innovation.

Both MedAID and PerformFISH are RIAs (Research and Innovation Action) which have been approved under the call SFS-23-2016 “Improving the technical performance of the Mediterranean aquaculture”. This topic was presented from the EU perspective by German Valcarcel, project officer of PerformFISH.

MedAID (Mediterranean Aquaculture Integrated Development) is a four-year project, funded by the European Union within the frame of Horizon 2020, grant agreement number 727315. MedAID’s goal is to increase the overall competitiveness and sustainability of the Mediterranean marine fish-farming sector, throughout the whole value chain. PerformFISH will work to ensure sustainable growth of the Mediterranean aquaculture industry, based on consumer perceptions and real market requirements. It aims to support fish farms that operate not only in ideal economic and environmental conditions but also in a socially and culturally responsible manner.

The afternoon session of the forum was conducted by the panellists, who highlighted the main outcomes from research, ongoing issues and bottlenecks to be solved in each of their areas of expertise: nutrition, marketing, breeding, health and welfare. The presentations were followed by an open discussion with the attendees, which will be presented in the near future by the EAS as a report of the Forum.