Making Science Count for Sustainable Aquaculture

The first AQUAEXCEL2020 industry brokerage event “FROM RESEARCH INNOVATION TO INDUSTRY APPLICATION” brought together researchers and aquaculture industry representatives during the Aquaculture Europe 2017 conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on 19 October 2017.

This forum for engagement and exchange was hosted by the European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform and AquaTT, both partners in AQUAEXCEL2020, an EU-funded project focusing on excellence in European fish research.

AQUAEXCEL2020 project coordinator, Dr Marc Vandeputte (INRA, France), reflected on this “fantastic opportunity to discuss some of the important research achievements of the project as well as its precursor, the EU FP7-funded AQUAEXCEL project, and share those knowledge outputs with their end-users, the aquaculture industry stakeholders. Assuring effective and constructive contact between research and industry is a key component of AQUAEXCEL2020, to facilitate real uptake of the research innovations by the aquaculture industry”.

Central to the brokerage event were pitches of three knowledge outputs of high potential for the European aquaculture industry, selected by the AQUAEXCEL2020 Industry and Research Advisory Panel (IRAP). These outputs resulted from projects conducted within the AQUAEXCEL2020 Transnational Access (TNA) programme so far, which funds access to 39 aquaculture research facilities across Europe, offering researchers the possibility to undertake experimental trials on commercially important aquaculture fish species and system types.

Dr Laura Gasco (University of Turin, Italy) presented her research findings and industry solutions for substituting juvenile sea bass diets with insect mealworms to reduce the need for costly, volatile and unsustainable fish meal and oil. Dr Jaume Pérez-Sánchez (IATS-CSIC), Spain) introduced a novel, comprehensive toolset that helps with the understanding and assessment of potential benefits of adding feed additives to plant-based diets for aquaculture fish. Both innovations could eventually support a more sustainable and competitive aquaculture sector.

Dr Petr Císař (University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic) showcased “3DFISH”, an innovative infrared reflection system for use as a suitable real-time 3D fish monitoring and measuring technique. 3DFISH enables non-invasive monitoring of fish behaviour and welfare indicators in real-time which allows for an efficient and cost-effective detection of behavioural abnormalities. Its users can, for example, detect potential problems in aquaculture facilities such as poor water quality and early disease signs earlier than in conventional systems, which will help reduce financial losses.

In addition, research and innovation leaders within AQUAEXCEL2020 presented their newest findings together with some tasters of further expected outputs. In the next three years research will continue on, amongst others, fishlines, virtual laboratories, and experimental fish management. The project also offers services such as new training courses based on the latest results and the online European aquaculture facility directory.

It is imperative that aquaculture research considers the actual and future needs of the industry and Mr Kjell Maroni of the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund (Norway) presented some perspectives from the industry. Mr Maroni, an AQUAEXCEL2020 IRAP industry expert and previous President of the European Aquaculture Society (EAS) said that “this is a very participative concept and it is the place where not only researchers can pitch their ideas to industry, but industry people can in return present their knowledge and technology needs”. The closing industry panel, moderated by Mr Courtney Hough (EATiP) and chaired by Mr Kjell Maroni and Dr Marc Vandeputte, discussed some of those needs.

Supporting research innovation to industry application is key to AQUAEXCEL2020, and involves maintaining active communication, engagement and exchange of ideas between researchers and aquaculture industry stakeholders. A number of similar industry brokerage events will be held in the next three years, presenting more high-potential industry-relevant outputs. To find out more about the recent research findings from AQUAEXCEL2020 and their applicability to industry, please visit the project’s website:

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