PerformFISH project promotes consumer-driven development in Mediterranean aquaculture
A new €7 million EC-funded research project titled PerformFISH officially launched in Volos, Greece last week.
PerformFISH will focus on developing consumer driven aquaculture production by integrating innovative approaches that can help ensure European sea bream and sea bass aquaculture businesses are sustainable and competitive.
The farming of sea bass and sea bream is an important sector in the Mediterranean, contributing significantly to wealth and job creation in rural and coastal areas. Sea bream and sea bass are by volume the third (36.4%) and fourth (28.15%) most farmed fish species in the EU, and their collective value (€1.04bn) surpasses that of salmon (€780m), trout (€550m) or mussel farming (€490m). However, in recent years, there has been growing concern regarding the lack of growth and improvement in Mediterranean marine fish farming.
This research-industry collaboration is truly unique and it is very exciting to see what we can achieve working together.
PerformFISH is coordinated by the University of Thessaly, Greece, and its consortium brings together 28 partners from 10 different countries, encompassing a wide range of technical expertise and know-how in the Mediterranean aquaculture area.
PerformFISH 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. Significantly, the associations through their membership represent 92.8% of all sea bream and sea bass production in the EU.
Dr Katerina Moutou, PerformFISH Coordinator, of the University of Thessaly, Greece, said:
“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.”
Over the next five years, PerformFISH will work to ensure 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.
The efforts of PerformFISH will be complemented by those of its sister project MedAID. Together, the two projects represent a €14 million investment by the EC in Mediterranean aquaculture research, further emphasising Europe’s commitment to support the sustainable development of this important food sector. Farming of finfish, shellfish and aquatic plants is one of the world’s fastest growing food sectors and aquaculture already provides about half of all the fish we eat. In Europe, aquaculture accounts for about 20% of fish production and directly employs some 85,000 people.