SFS-10a-2014 - Scientific basis and tools for preventing and mitigating parasitic diseases of European farmed fish
Specific challenge: Disease prevention and management are essential for the sustainability of the European aquaculture industry. The diversity of species and farming practices throughout Europe involves also a significant number of threats related to a large variety of pathogens that hamper production and require specific preventive and curative practices and tools ensuring a high level of biosecurity of aquaculture production and related seafood products. Among other disease-related threats, parasites and related infections can cause significant damages on farmed fish species and can result in poor growth performance, impaired welfare and death of farmed animals with significant consequences in terms of production and economic performance. Parasites can also affect the end users of aquaculture products and therefore their monitoring and eradication are essential for ensuring the safety of European consumers. The management of diseases is even more challenging in farmed aquatic mollusc where the absence of adaptive immune system further complicates the development of tools and methods allowing mitigating effects of diseases on production. Despite the initiatives that have been implemented to understand, explain and mitigate disease outbreaks affecting farmed molluscs, which seem to have multifactorial origins, the future of the European mollusc production sector is still challenged.
Scope: Proposals should address one of the following issue (A):
A.  Scientific basis and tools for preventing and mitigating parasitic diseases of European farmed fish
Proposals should focus on parasites with documented socio-economic impact on European finfish aquaculture production and on trade of products thereof. The main focus should be on the development of reliable, cost-efficient detection and diagnostic tools, as well as, preventive and curative practices, tools, medicines and treatments (adapted to relevant life stages and husbandry practices of related fish species) against (endo- and ecto-) parasites and related infections, for conventional and organic aquaculture. Proposals should also take into consideration parasitic transfer between wild and reared fish species and its mitigation. Finally, they should avoid any duplication with relevant other related research initiatives.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 7 million for (A) would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Expected impact: Proposals should show that proposed projects contribute to some or all of the following:
· Generation of scientific knowledge on fish parasites and mollusc pathogens, their life-cycles/stages and their interactions with hosts of commercial interest.
· Availability of solutions to minimise risks and transmission of fish and mollusc diseases.
· Prevention and mitigation of diseases that impede the development of the European aquaculture sector and for which efficient solutions are currently lacking.
· Reliable, cost-efficient detection and diagnostic tools, as well as, preventive and curative practices, tools, medicines and treatments against parasites and related infections.
· Scientific evidence on the potential interactions between farmed and wild populations in terms of epidemiology of parasitic infections.
· Enhanced risk analysis and infected stock management.
· Improved productivity, economic performance and image of European aquaculture through improved biosecurity, health and welfare of farmed fish and mollusc.
· Compliance with existing legal framework related to authorized treatments for aquaculture production and to seafood trade. Improved traceability and safety of European and imported seafood products.
· Set-up of an international network on oyster diseases, including the main oyster producing countries and allowing the exchange of best practices in terms of surveillance, epidemiology, diagnostics, husbandry and selection of resistant oyster strains.
Type of action: Research and innovation actions