With concerns around sustainability of food security continuing to rise, a team of European aquaculture experts will begin a four-year study worth almost €7 million to establish new strategies and models for sustainable growth in the industry.
The Tools for Assessment and Planning of Aquaculture Sustainability (TAPAS) project, led by the University of Stirling, will create cost-efficient management tools and practices for the European aquaculture sector to investigate the limits to fish farming activity in a location, social interactions, potential environmental impacts and any future risks. The Marine Institute is the Irish partner in the EU Horizon 2020 funded project, with Dr Dave Jackson leading a key work package feeding into the development of an aquaculture 'toolbox'.
Professor Trevor Telfer of the Institute of Aquaculture is leading the multi-partner study which starts this month and will seek to establish a comprehensive 'toolbox' to support transparent and efficient licensing, enhance environment sustainability and aquatic food security while tapping into the potential for food production and jobs.
The consortium 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 work is in line with the EU's Marine Strategy Framework Directive to protect marine environments more effectively and will provide consistent real-time monitoring, observation, early forecasting and management technologies.
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.
Professor Telfer, Stirling Institute of Aquaculture said: "As Europe continues to produce millions of tonnes of food each year, we want to ensure this industry is feeding the world in a sustainable way, while taking care of the environment.
By developing new, flexible and unified approaches to aquaculture planning we aim to strengthen sustainable growth in the vital marine and freshwater sectors."
Dr Dave Jackson, Marine Institute said: "The breadth of experience gained through our 15 consortium partners allows us to bring together sophisticated technologies, computer models and decision making capabilities into a single, streamlined entity for regulators and producers throughout Europe to use.
The collaborative work will play a major role in the European Commissions' strategy to achieve smart growth in aquaculture production across the region's seas. Aquaculture in European waters is a key driver for the blue economy representing approximately 5.4 million jobs and generating a gross added value of almost €500 billion a year. "
The project will also support Ireland's vision for aquaculture, "a sustainable and competitive aquaculture sector, where production will grow according to market and consumer demands and in balance with nature and society" which is outlined in the National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development.
Notes for editors:
The Tools for Assessment and Planning of Aquaculture Sustainability (TAPAS) project is a Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Action funded by the European Commission.
The Marine Institute is the national agency responsible for marine research, technology, development and innovation (RTDI). The Marine Institute seeks to assess and realise the economic potential of Ireland's 220 million acre marine resource; promote the sustainable development of marine industry through strategic funding programmes and scientific services; and safeguard the marine environment through research and environmental monitoring. The Institute works in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) and a network of other Government Departments, semi-state agencies, national and international marine partners. www.marine.ie
The Institute of Aquaculture
The Institute of Aquaculture is a leading international centre in its field and one of the largest of its kind in the world. The Institute was ranked as the top aquaculture centre in the UK by the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, with 90 per cent of research impact rated as outstanding. The Institute bring together cross-disciplinary, world class researchers to meet the wide range of challenges faced as aquaculture grows to meet global demands. www.aqua.stir.ac.uk.