Eagerly awaited by the European aquaculture community familiar with the many benefits that the previous AQUAEXCEL projects provided, AQUAEXCEL3.0 has now officially launched. AQUAEXCEL3.0 aims to further boost the European aquaculture sector by, amongst others, expanding the Transnational Access programme to support even more external research teams collaborating with its high-quality facilities, providing free training courses on the latest topics and engaging closely with industry to ensure research is aligned with industry needs.
Aquaculture now provides over half of seafood for human consumption worldwide. To meet the increasing demand for seafood globally, aquaculture is growing annually and has been the fastest growing animal production sector in the world for decades now. However, within the EU aquaculture production has been lagging behind and there remains a high dependency on imported fish for consumption. The aquaculture industry landscape is also changing, with new consumer preferences, growing concern for environment and animal welfare issues, new standards and effects of global climate change.
Sustainable growth of the sector can only be achieved through efficient production of high value fish products in an environmentally and ethically responsible way, supported by high-level research and innovation. In order for the EU aquaculture sector to maintain its global leadership in aquaculture research and support the sustainable development of the sector, an open and inclusive dialogue between industry, science and policy, as well as between experts across different disciplines is required.
AQUAEXCEL3.0 builds on the achievements of the previous AQUAEXCEL (FP7) and AQUAEXCEL2020 (H2020) projects, with the ambition to boost this effort in a user-centric approach. AQUAEXCEL3.0 will continue to have fish as its main target but will widen its scope by including shellfish and macroalgae research facilities to push towards lower trophic level aquaculture.
Dr Marc Vandeputte, AQUAEXCEL3.0 coordinator, said “The continued engagement of the EC to support the AQUAEXCEL network really gives a chance to any researcher in Europe to run a project with the top aquaculture facilities available. This is a unique opportunity to give the best support to the best ideas. Aquaculture also needs better support for the public, and for this we will work on improving fish welfare and on recycling nutrients with algae, shellfish, worms and insects which can be used directly or as raw materials for aquaculture feeds ”.
AQUAEXCEL3.0 will help to further boost European aquaculture by integrating 40 top class research facilities from biology to technology in all types of rearing systems, covering all major EU farmed species as well as promising new species, including at lower trophic levels. The project will expand access to high-quality services and resources, covering all scientific fields relevant to research and innovation in aquaculture. Through a strong partnership, the project will boost excellent research and sustainable innovation for both public and private sectors working in aquaculture.
Almost 200 Transnational Access projects are planned over the duration of the 5-year project. These are expected to consolidate the global leadership of European aquaculture research, as researchers will be able to perform their research projects free of charge, with access to infrastructures which are not available in their country of origin. AQUAEXCEL3.0 will also provide online training courses that build upon the newest results and experience from previous courses. In addition, improving the use of animal experiments for research according to Reduction, Refinement and Replacement is integral to the AQUAEXCEL3.0 concept.
For further information, please visit www.aquaexcel2020.eu for now, the new AQUAEXCEL3.0 website will be live in the new year.
AQUAEXCEL3.0 (“Aquaculture Infrastructures for Excellence in European Fish Research 3.0”) is a research infrastructure project funded under the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020, grant agreement number 871108. The project will run for five years from 2020 to 2025, with a total budget of €9.9 million
ERINN Innovation are responsible for the communication and dissemination of the AQUAEXCEL3.0 project and results (WP3 leader) and are involved in the knowledge management and transfer of the project outputs through WP2, leading T2.2 on brokerage activities and events.