European funding announced for aquaculture initiatives

An Atlantic bluefin tuna

A sustainable approach to tackling sea lice, a plan to raise tuna in land-based farms and an IT platform aimed at encouraging the sharing of aquaculture skills are among the projects being funded by an initiative of the European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT).

EIT Food is one of the eight “innovation communities” set up by EIT. Its aim is to create a sustainable and future-proof food sector. Marking World Ocean Day (8 June), EIT Food has announced funding for seven projects following its sustainable aquaculture competition, launched in December last year. The competition also brought in 18 new partners organisations for the initiative.

One of the projects selected, BREEZE will enable the successful scaling of sustainably managed fish farms, to meet the growing demand for healthy proteins. It aims to bring to market a residue-free prevention and control system for sea lice management, to contribute to increasing resistance to diseases, while increasing awareness of animal welfare and minimising environmental impact. BREEZE is run by a consortium comprising Aqua Pharma Group (Norway), Pulcea (UK), University of Stirling (UK) and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norway).

Next Tuna aims to create the first sustainable European source of tuna by reproducing Atlantic Bluefin Tuna in a land-based, eco-friendly recirculating aquaculture system. The project is a consortium involving Next Tuna GmbH (Germany), The Spanish Institute of Oceanography (Spain), Wageningen Livestock Research (The Netherlands) and Seafarming System AS (Norway).

Dr Paul-Daniel Sindilariu, Co-Founder of Next Tuna, said: “We want to take the great progress made in Atlantic Bluefin Tuna reproduction research to the final step of commercialisation. We will revive the European tuna industry and provide healthy, sustainably produced Atlantic Bluefin Tuna to European consumers. We thank EIT Food for sharing and supporting our vision – let’s get to work!”

AGAPE: Aquacultural Global AI Platform for Europe’s Skills Passport represents an AI-based collaborative platform. This platform addresses the EU aquaculture market, academia, consumers and research ecosystems. AGAPE’s innovative model aims to broaden the aquaculture community in terms of skills, capabilities and competencies, globally and in real time.

SuSeaPro (Sustainable Seafood Processing) will develop novel processing technologies that extend the shelf-life of seafood products, that do not rely on additives or heat treatment, to reduce food loss and waste from farm-to-fork. The project also aims to improve food safety and enhance consumer perception by reducing the microbial growth of harmful pathogens such as listeria.

Delta Futuro is an optimised sustainable shellfish farming system, that aims to guarantee the wellbeing of shellfish juveniles and ensure food security for future consumers. The project aims to scale up hatcheries and improve the availability of manila clam seed for farmers.

Just Add Water will grow Atlantic salmon in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), throughout the EU. The project aims to expand and commercialise its technology that improves animal welfare and product quality and accommodates many fish species across multiple geographical locations.

Andrew Robertson, Director, FishFrom Ltd – a UK-based member of the Just Add Water consortium – said: “Commercial businesses do not always get the chance to meet and collaborate with academia but through the EIT Food network we’ve found the perfect partners to address one of the formidable challenges in growing fish in RAS. To have then been awarded funding to develop, commercialise and exploit this technology is absolutely fantastic.”

Mercedes Groba, Innovation Programme Manager at EIT Food, said the projects being funded were part of the European Union’s “farm-to-fork” strategy. She explained: ““The European Farm-to-Fork strategy aims to provide healthy and sustainable food systems; this is one of the key objectives of the European Green Deal. I truly believe that aquaculture is a critical part of the solution.

“Our promising innovation projects present a collaborative approach to meet the objectives of the European Green Deal and to transform the aquaculture industry into a sustainable form of food production. This forms part of EIT Food’s wider mission to make our entire food system more sustainable, healthy and trusted.”