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New European project to boost Mediterranean fish farming

Mediterranean Aquaculture Integrated Development is a new EU H2020 research project which brings together over 30 organisations from 12 different countries to improve aquaculture in the Mediterranean.

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Europe consumes twice as much seafood as it produces, with imports filling the gap. Aquaculture accounts for about 20% of production in Europe and directly employs around 85,000 people, mostly in rural and coastal areas. In contrast to what is happening in non-EU Mediterranean countries, aquaculture production in Europe is stagnating.

To counter this trend, the European Commission aims to increase sustainable aquaculture production in the Mediterranean by 20%. The MedAID project (Mediterranean Aquaculture Integrated Development), launched in May 2017, will be vital to meet this objective. 

MedAID will focus on the two main species produced in the Mediterranean - sea bream and sea bass, and will address all components of the value chain:

  • nutrition and feeding practices
  • animal health and welfare
  • genetics and breeding
  • environmental impact
  • consumer perception and marketing aspects
  • the economic efficiency and performance of the sector
  • regulatory constraints 

Working with stakeholders from across the sector, MedAID will propose best practices, innovative tools and practical solutions to increase growth and productivity.

The Roslin Institute’s contribution to the project is led by Dr Ross Houston and will involve sequencing the genomes of sea bass and sea bream to discover genetic variants known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Knowledge of these SNPs will then be used to create a new genotyping tool for bass and bream, a SNP ‘chip’ which will include tens of thousands of markers. This SNP chip will enable improvements to selective breeding in Mediterranean aquaculture, incorporating traits such as disease resistance and fillet quality.

According to the project coordinators, Bernardo Basurco (Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza) and Dolors Furones (Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology of Catalonia): “with the involvement of Europe´s leading aquaculture experts, MedAID will support the development of the sector by contributing with knowledge, innovative tools and recommendations”.

MedAID is funded by a 7 million Euro grant from the European Commission´s H2020 Research and Innovation Programme and involves over 30 organisations from 12 different countries.