New €7 m project aims to ensure all European aquaculture businesses are sustainable and competitive

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A new research project, funded by the European Commission, is hoping to create a more innovative, sustainable and competitive space for aquaculture businesses.

PerformFISH was launched in Volos, Greece, last month.

The project received €7 million in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 funding programme.

The project is coordinated by University of Thessaly in Greece and has 27 European participants.

PerformFISH will focus on Gilthead sea bream and European sea bass, as these are the third and fourth most farmed fish species in the EU and their collective value is greater than that of salmon, trout or mussel.

Despite this, the European Commission says production of sea bream and sea bass has been “stagnant for the last decade and the industry faces significant sustainability challenges”.

It is as a result that PerformFISH hopes to increase competitiveness through introducing cost-effective solutions to biological, technical and operational challenges.

“PerformFISH is an important and timely project for the sector as solutions are needed to tackle some of the underlying causes behind the current stagnation of the Mediterranean marine fish farming sector,” said Dr Katerin Moutou, PerformFISH Coordinator from the University of Thessaly.

“We have brought together leading researchers and industry across Europe to co-design this innovative project to directly address the needs of the sector. This research-industry collaboration is truly unique and it is very exciting to see what we can achieve working together.”

With a multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary consortium, the European Commission hopes that new knowledge will be generated and applied to fisheries across Europe.

It is also hoped that the project will address social and environmental responsibility and contribute to ‘Blue Growth’ – the term given to the long term strategy to support sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors.

According to the European Commission, Blue Growth is the maritime contribution to achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

The blue economy currently generates a gross added value of almost €500 billion per year, but the Blue Growth strategy aims (1) to develop sectors that have a high potential for sustainable jobs and growth, (2) provide knowledge, legal certainty and security in the blue economy and (3) ensure tailor-made measures and to foster cooperation between countries.

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