Care4Aqua project to boost farmed fish health and welfare in EU
Bringing together a team of researchers from 16 countries, a new 4.5-year project funded by the E.U. Horizon Europe Cure4Aqua program plans to enhance the resilience of E.U. aquaculture by improving aquatic animal health and welfare.
The EUR 4.8 million (USD 5 million) Cure4Aqua project plans to develop new approaches to prevent aquatic fish diseases through innovative prophylaxis and technologies for early disease detection, while also supporting the advancement of alternative treatments to replace pharmaceuticals in disease control.
Cure4Aqua Project Coordinator Ivona Mladineo said the control of pathogens continues to be a major challenge for the aquaculture sector, and particularly for Europe, where there is a wide variety of species and production systems. This has historically hindered the implementation of good husbandry practices tailored to each aquatic species.
Mladineo, from the Institute of Parasitology (BCAS) in the Czech Republic, said research needs to be at the “forefront of positive changes” that will ensue food systems are sustainable while caring about high health and welfare standards for fish.
“There is an urgent need to solve some of the major shortcomings and constraints that the European aquaculture industry is facing. Cure4Aqua will address these issues by building a co-creative approach with other players interested and involved in the aquaculture," Mladineo said.
Mladineo said the Cure4Aqua project plans to:
- Develop cost-effective vaccines to prevent diseases in farmed fish;
- Implement selective breeding programs to improve stress and disease management;
- Develop innovative, bio-based and sustainable alternatives to antibiotics for controlling fish diseases at various life-stages;
- Develop new tools and artificial intelligence-based technology to improve fish health and welfare;
- Improve diagnostics of fish pathogens;
- Integrate farmer and fish welfare as a priority of aquaculture production by developing high welfare standards that consider different life-stages, production systems, and knowledge of welfare needs.
“Research must be at the forefront of positive changes that will ensue our food systems are sustainable while caring about high health and welfare standards for fish," Mladineo said.