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Aquaculture infrastructures for excellence in European fish research

Period: March 2011 till February 2015
Status: Completed

Institutes (17)  Top 
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), more, co-ordinator
  • Institute of Marine Research (IMR), more
  • University of Stirling (UOS), more
  • Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), more
  • Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), more
  • Research Institute for Fisheries, Aquaculture and Irrigation (HAKI), more
  • Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), more
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), more
  • SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture, more
  • University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), more
  • Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR), more
  • Universiteit Gent (UGent), more
  • Wageningen University and Research Centre; Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies (IMARES), more
  • AquaTT (European Network for Training and Technology in aquaculture) (AquaTT), more
  • Inra Transfert S.A., more
  • Research Institute of Fish Culture and Hydrobiology (VURH), more
  • Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research (Nofima), more

The Challenge

Aquaculture is a pan-European production activity that includes a wide range of fish and mollusc species. It has grown rapidly from a cottage industry in the 1960s into an industrial sector that contributes substantially to the European Union’s goal of becoming the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.

Today, European aquaculture technology is one of the areas where Europe has the edge and can make a difference in the future. Nevertheless, the European aquaculture industry is facing increasing challenges due to a more demanding and selective market combined with competition from outside the EU. These complex challenges require technological solutions that can only be solved with the contribution of high level experts and experienced professionals, and with excellent research facilities, outstanding services, and the right biological resources.

Project Objectives

AQUAEXCEL aims to integrate key aquaculture research infrastructures across Europe, in order to promote their coordinated use and development.


AQUAEXCEL will provide the European aquaculture research community with a platform of top class research infrastructures, integrating on a European scale key aquaculture research infrastructures. The platform will encompass a wide range of production systems including recirculation, flow-through, hatchery, cage, and pond systems. Fish research will be spread across several species including sea bass, sea bream, salmon, cod, trout and common carp. Freshwater, marine, cold, and warm water environments will be representated, as will small, medium and industrial scale settings.


  • Link and coordinate key research infrastructures in Europe: cage, recirculation and hatchery aquaculture systems, land and sea based, fresh and salt water installations in order to create the basis for synergistic research projects.
  • Provide research teams with access to a wide range of the state-of-the-art infrastructures covering all important aquaculture species, systems, environments and expertises.
  • Increase resource sharing and standardization between partners, notably but not exclusively for fish models and experimental methods developed in-house.
  • Stimulate innovation through transfer of knowledge, harmonisation and development of best practices across fields of research, production systems and species.
  • Execute joint research and development activities designed to improve the services currently provided by the infrastructures (remote access and monitoring, more accurate performance evaluation, limitation of live animals use, applicability of results at industry scale, development of biological models).
  • Bridge the gap between the scientific community and the industry through stimulation of problem-based research and enhanced knowledge transfer.

Expected Results

  • Access to state-of-the-art aquaculture research infrastructures by research teams who would otherwise not normally have access to these facilities.
  • Coordination of key research infrastructures in Europe, creating the basis for joint research projects.
  • An online inventory of key aquaculture research infrastructures, facilities and services.
  • Harmonisation and standardization of resources between partners, notably but not exclusively for fish models and experimental methods developed in-house.
  • Transfer of knowledge activities, such as training early-stage researchers and technicians on the latest experimental methods in aquaculture research.

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