New project launched at University of Stirling investigates European aquaculture
A new study launched Thursday, 10 March with aims of creating cost-effective management tools and practices for Europe’s aquaculture sector.
The Tools for Assessment and Planning of Aquaculture Sustainability (TAPAS) project is led by the University of Stirling (U.K.) and funded by the European Commission with almost EUR 7 million (USD 7.8 million) over the next four years.
Trevor Telfer, a professor with the university’s Institute of Aquaculture, is leading the multi-partner study, which seeks to “establish a comprehensive ‘toolbox’ to support transparent and efficient licensing, enhance environment sustainability and aquatic food security while tapping into the potential for food production and jobs.”
“As a Consortium we will evaluate structures currently in operation across the EU’s seas, lakes and rivers, examining various environments and developing new approaches to deliver computer-based support systems for sustainable aquaculture expansion,” Telfer said.
The project is in coordination with the European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive to protect marine environments more effectively. The research team will collaborate with members of the aquaculture industry in the U.K., as well as regulators, certifiers and other stakeholders to ensure the toolbox it creates promotes an integrated sustainability strategy. A majority of the study’s work will investigate aquaculture in Scotland, which annually generates GBP 1.86 billion (USD 2.66 billion, EUR 2.38 billion) of economic activity and supports 8,300 jobs, according to a press release.
“This industry has fantastic potential to achieve further sustainable growth, aided by our cutting-edge research capability such as that at Stirling, often in cooperation with international partners,” said the U.K.’s Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Aileen McLeod.
Besides the University of Stirling, the 14 other consortium partners include the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Aquaculture Stewardship Council in the UK, Marine Institute in Ireland, NIVA in Norway, DHI in Denmark, Water Insight BV and Wageningen UR in the Netherlands, Universidad de Murcia and Fundación Imdea Aqua in Spain, Université de Nantes in France, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research in Greece, Szent Istvan University and NACEE – Eastern Europe in Hungary and AquaBioTech Group Limited in Malta.
The collaboration will aid in the European Commission’s “smart growth” strategy for the region’s aquaculture, which directly and indirectly employs 5.4 million people and generates a gross added value of almost EUR 500 billion (USD 559 billion) annually.
“As Europe continues to produce millions of tonnes of food each year, we want to ensure this industry is feeding the world in a sustainable way, while taking care of the environment,” Ian Payne, of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, said. “By developing new, flexible and unified approaches to aquaculture planning, we aim to strengthen sustainable growth in the vital marine and freshwater sectors.”