Stirling leads €7 million aquaculture project

A TEAM of European aquaculture experts have launched a four-year study to establish new strategies and models for sustainable growth in the industry.

The €7 million EU project, Tools for Assessment and Planning of Aquaculture Sustainability (TAPAS), will investigate the scope of fish and shellfish farming, social interactions, potential environmental impacts and any future risks.

Trevor Telfer of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture is leading the multi-partner study which starts this month and will seek to establish a ‘toolbox’ to support transparent and efficient licensing, enhance environment sustainability and aquatic food security while tapping into the potential for food production and jobs.

Telfer said: ‘As a consortium we will evaluate structures currently in operation across the EU’s seas, lakes and rivers, examining various environments and developing new approaches to deliver computer based support systems for sustainable aquaculture expansion.’

The research team will collaborate with industry, regulators, certifiers and other stakeholders to ensure the toolbox they create is accessible, using training and outreach activities to improve the image of European aquaculture and promote an integrated sustainability strategy.

The 15 consortium partners include the University of Stirling, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council in the UK, Marine Institute in Ireland, NIVA in Norway, DHI in Denmark, Water Insight BV and Wageningen UR in the Netherlands, Universidad de Murcia and Fundacion Imdea Aqua in Spain, Université de Nantes in France, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research in Greece, Szent Istvan University and NACEE – Eastern Europe in Hungary and AquaBioTech Group Limited in Malta.

Stefan Simis of Plymouth Marine Laboratory said: ‘The breadth of experience gained through our 15 consortium partners brings together sophisticated technologies, such as computer models and satellite observations, and decision making capabilities into a streamlined toolkit for regulators and producers throughout Europe.’

The collaborative work will play a major role in the European Commission’s strategy to achieve growth in aquaculture production across the region, which currently represents approximately 5.4 million jobs and generate a gross added value of almost €500 billion a year.

Scotland’s Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Aileen McLeod, said: ‘Today’s announcement of €7 million to improve the future sustainability of aquaculture as part of the Tools for Assessment and Planning of Aquaculture Sustainability project is great news. This significant award reinforces Scotland’s reputation as an international centre of excellence at the forefront of aquaculture science, technology and research.

‘Scotland, with its world class fish farming sector generates £1.86 billion of economic activity every year and supports 8,300 jobs. This industry has fantastic potential to achieve further sustainable growth, aided by our cutting edge research capability such as that at Stirling, often in co-operation with international partners.’

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