A new EUR 7 million (USD 7.8 million) research project aimed at ensuring European seabass and seabream aquaculture businesses are sustainable and competitive has been launched in Volos, Greece.
Called “PerformFISH,” the European Commission (EC) five-year project will focus on ensuring the sustainable growth of the Mediterranean aquaculture industry, based on consumer perceptions and real market requirements. It aims to support fish farms to operate not only in ideal economic and environmental conditions, but also in a socially and culturally responsible manner.
Seabass and seabream farming is an important sector in the Mediterranean, contributing significantly to wealth and job creation in rural and coastal areas. In volume terms, bream and bass are the third and fourth most farmed fish species in the EU, and their collective value in excess of EUR 1 billion (USD 1.1 billion) surpasses that of salmon with EUR 780 million (USD 871.6 million), trout with EUR 550 million (USD 614.6 million) and mussel farming with EUR 490 million (USD 547.5 million). However, in recent years, there has been growing concern regarding the lack of growth and improvement in Mediterranean marine fish farming.
PerformFISH is being coordinated by the University of Thessaly, Greece, and its consortium brings together 28 partners from 10 different countries, encompassing a wide range of expertise in the Mediterranean aquaculture area.
The initiative has the direct support and endorsement of the industry, with producers’ associations from Greece, Spain, Italy, France and Croatia directly involved as partners in the project, focused on ensuring that the research addresses the needs of the sector and knowledge is transferred effectively to their members.
These associations through their membership represent 92.8 percent of all bream and bass production in the EU.
“PerformFISH is an important and timely project for the sector as solutions are needed to tackle some of the underlying causes behind the current stagnation of the Mediterranean marine fish farming sector. We have brought together leading researchers and industry across Europe to co-design this innovative project to directly address the needs of the sector. This research-industry collaboration is truly unique and it is very exciting to see what we can achieve working together,” said Dr. Katerina Moutou, PerformFISH coordinator from the University of Thessaly.
The efforts of PerformFISH will be complemented by those of its sister project MedAID. Together they represent a EUR 14 million (USD 15.7 million) investment by the EC in Mediterranean aquaculture research.