European aquacultureprovides 1.25 million tonnes of seafood annually, valued at over 4 billion euro. However, Europe heavily depends on external markets to ensure consumer demands for seafood (including from fresh water) is met. EU aquaculture needs to increase the competiveness of its food products and to respond to consumer demands for high-quality and safe food, in a challenging context of climate change, greater competition for natural resources, and conflicting interests for space and markets. To ensure food and nutrition security by 2030, European aquaculture has to sustainably expand in terms of space, production and new value chains, exploring and enhancing innovation opportunities offered by sustainable and resilient aquaculture production systems, implementing the circular economy principles and increasing social acceptance of the corresponding activities and products. European aquaculture has now a unique opportunity to address not only today's challenges of climate change and food and nutrition security, but also to implement the international commitments encompassed in the UN SDGs, while fostering economic growth and social prosperity.
Activities shall develop smart breeding programmes and/or tailor feeding formulas and technologies for conventional and organic aquaculture – for marine and/or freshwater - targeting animal health (contributing to disease resistance) and welfare, different production systems, feeding efficiency, resilience and climate change mitigation - when applicable, including related traits and possible links between them (synergies, trade-offs) -, zero waste, by-products valorisation following circularity principles and organoleptic and nutritional values of seafood optimisation. Efforts to close the reproduction cycle of economically important species should be considered. In addition, activities shall explore the potential of the microbiome on health and productivity of farmed species. Activities shall consider sound cost-effective production methods and profitability, testing, demonstrating and upscaling of the production processes to pre-commercial product. Regulatory authority and consumers should also be consulted, addressing their concerns and demands. The use of Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) should be considered. The participation of deep-tech start-ups is encouraged. Activities shall develop a set of indicators to monitor and measure progress towards the expected impacts as listed in the call text and in particular the improvement of the production systems that increases productivity, resilience and sustainability. The interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial nature of the project should also apply to training activities improving the professional skills and competencies and supporting the creation of new jobs in the blue economy.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 6 million would allow this specific challenge to be adequately addressed. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Contributing to the ongoing implementation of EU policies such as the Bioeconomy Strategy, the Circular Economy Strategy, the Blue Growth Strategy, the Common Fisheries Policy, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the priorities defined in the European Commission Staff Working Document FOOD 2030, as well as international policies and initiatives such as the UN SDGs, the EU Biodiversity Strategy, the BLUEMED Initiative, the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance and the BIOEAST Initiative, activities shall:
In the short term:
- Demonstrate that investment in sustainable aquaculture research and innovation leads to the creation of new value chains, markets, growth and jobs in coastal, offshore and landlocked areas.
- Improve consumers' awareness, perceptions and acceptability of the European aquaculture products and methods.
- Contribute to the creation of improved sustainable aquaculture systems and implement productive and resilient aquaculture practices that maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems and strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, by 2020 (UN SDG 2).
- Contribute to ensure the genetic diversity of farmed algae (micro and macro) and farmed aquatic species (fish, molluscs and crustaceans) and their related wild species, and promote access to the utilisation of genetic resources by 2020 (UN SDG 2).
In the medium term
- Contribute to increasing available, accessible, affordable and nutritious food and feed, while conserving natural resources and contributing to climate change mitigation (UN SDG 2).
- Improve the professional skills and competences of those working and being trained to work within the blue economy.
- Contribute to policymaking in research, innovation and technology.
Source: The European Commission
Illustration Photo: Staff at the VIMS Aquaculture Genetics and Breeding Technology Center (ABC) train participants in the Tidewater Oyster Growers Association's Master Oyster Gardener program. (credits: Margaret Pizer / Virginia Sea Grant / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0))