Eagerly awaited by the European aquaculture community familiar with the many benefits that the previous AQUAEXCEL projects provided, AQUAEXCEL3.0 has now officially launched. Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is one of the partners involved in this project aimed to further boost the European aquaculture sector.
Amongst others, AQUAEXCEL3.0 will focus on 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.
Increasing demand for seafood
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.
Leading role for the EU aquaculture sector
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.