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Last update: May 2021

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INRA GABI Unit

GABI : Génétique Animale et Biologie IntégrativeUnité Mixte de Recherche INRA - AgroParisTech

AquaExcel2020 : a new European research project for a sustainable aquaculture

Salmonid farming
© C. Slagmulder
AquaExcel2020, a research infrastructure project financed by the European Horizon 2020 program and coordinated by INRA, was officially launched on 1 October 2015 with the goal of reinforcing the development of a sustainable aquaculture in Europe.

This project, which will last for 5 years, joins together the main European research infrastructures in aquaculture. One of the key objectives of the project: to provide acces to high-level infrastructures and improved services for research organisms and the industry.

Aquaculture provides about half of the fish consumed throughout the world. The demands for fish are continually increasing whereas the quantity of fish taken from our natural resources remains stable to prevent our natural resources from being depleted. The aquaculture industry aims at fufilling this increasing demand, but the sector has been stagnating recently in Europe. A scientific research of excellence, favoring innovation, can favor the development of an efficient high quality European aquaculture that respects the environment.

This is the ambition of the AquaExcel2020project , which joins together 39 European aquaculture research infrastructures, covering all scientific fields, fish species and production systems. The project provides a unique access to high quality and coordinated fundamental and/or applied research. It will provide the basis for an innovative system for European aquaculture.

Nearly half of the 9.7 M€ budget will be dedicated to transnational access to research infrastructures and services in both public and private research and notably for SME. The objective is through proposals, to provide free access to the infrastructures that do not exist in their country. The projects financed will be selected by a panel of experts.

AquaExcel2020 will also offer training for the users, scientists, technicians and industry. Several courses on aquaculture technology and fish biology will be given on the sites or from a distance during the five years of the project. 

AquaExcel2020 will develop standard guides and new aquaculture research tools, including an e-infrastructure for real and virtual experimental research. More the ten new fish species (including red tuna, sole and perch) will be made available for research. 

The coordinator of AquaExcel2020, Marc Vandeputte, is an aquaculture scientist at INRA. He explains: "We have acquired a certain experience through the previous AquaExcel project, also financed by the European Union from 2011 to 2015. This new project is based on the results obtained with AquaExcel, notably the new modeling and phenotyping tools, stable lines of fish that have been characterized and the technical solutions that allow scientists that work at a distance to follow the experiments in real time. We also have a good experience for transnational access. Our ambition is to bring European aquaculture research to a higher level by 2020. To do this, this project will provide tools and the essential infrastructure to the aquaculture community and new services to research". 

The meeting for the launching of the AquaExcel2020 project was held on 2 and 4 November in Montpellier. The partners of the project gathered to work out the fine details of action and to begin the first work of these promising partnerships.