Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

EUROSHELL Report Summary

Project ID: 312025
Funded under: FP7-KBBE
Country: France

Final Report Summary - EUROSHELL (Bridging the gap between science and producers to support the European marine mollusc production sector)

Executive Summary:
Over a relatively short time period of 18 months, from the 1st October 2012 until the 30th March 2014, EUROSHELL executed a work plan to support its the core objectives and which is made up of 5 components with the final objective to bridge the gap between Industry and Sciences:
Definition of best practice for implementation of knowledge transfer to establish a framework for European, national and regional mollusc producer organizations and individual production companies (SMEs) to have better access to the outputs of EU and national research and to communicate their future research priorities through an extension network. This will benefit the elaboration of research programs that meet industry needs and the evaluation of the impacts and benefits of research to producers. On the basis of the outcomes of 5 regional workshops, guidelines have been developed for knowledge transfer and an implementation network, while assessing the options for integration of the sector into EATiP and better cooperation with the relevant territory in relation with the requirements of the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). Two main stakeholders meetings took place in Arcachon and Rotterdam to complete this scheme and to validate the methodology (November 2012), and to agree on the final results and recommendations (January 2014).
Reviewing current knowledge assess the outputs of 170 past and ongoing research projects and existing knowledge that can have a direct impact on the key challenges that the sector is facing.
Tools for an extension network are now fully integrated into the EUROSHELL website:
• Mapping the sector - a mapping of the sector identifying production zones and major species within key European mollusc producing countries and linking these to research infrastructure, major research and technological development and innovation (RDTI) themes and principal research competences.

• Roadmap of Research – similar to the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda of the EATiP, that supports the vision for the development of the sector to a series of prioritized core objectives and the research (under different Thematic Areas) linked to current knowledge and future needs. The partnership is based on the European Mollusc Producers Association (EMPA), with connections to all partner countries (France, UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Italy and Spain). A total of almost 8000 SMEs in different Member States have been involved through national Mollusc Producers Associations.

Regional consultation workshops held in 7 representative parts of Europe for different production technologies and differing levels of existing cooperation between science and producers and focusing on testing the framework proposed and the tools, providing input on future vision and strategic research priorities. They looked to identify the underlying factors that inhibit effective knowledge management, provide solutions to improve knowledge transfer, and elaborate a vision for the future of the sector and identify key research objectives that could be integrated in the European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform (EATiP).
Recommendations are finally made to disseminate the results and bind future extension activities with EATiP and its national mirror platforms.
Project Context and Objectives:
In 2008, scientists and stakeholders gathered around the then huge problem of oyster mortality. Contextually, DG RTD launched an initiative on this subject and finally in 2011, to fulfil the need to link shellfish workers with scientists, the BIVALIFE project was adopted, in order to integrate research programs with shellfish producers’ needs. It was the first step of the process for a better integration of producers to research program targeted to their needs.
Subsequently, the Commission launched a call for proposals to tackle the link between science and professional shellfish workers, and the EUROSHELL project was selected in February 2012. In September 2012 the contract was signed and in October the project was launched.
Euroshell project aims at strengthening cooperation between scientists and producers in the shellfish sector. It gathers 18 partners representing both industry and research of each of the 6 partner countries (France, Ireland, UK, Netherlands, Italy and Spain), as well as their respective European federation, and one technical partner. The core objectives of EUROSHELL are to:

• Enhance integration of knowledge into the production cycle of the main farmed species, by assessing current critical problems experienced by the sector that have a direct link to research and reviewing current knowledge and especially the extent of its uptake.

• Assess the current structural organisation that links knowledge to practice in key European production countries and identify solutions that will address structural difficulties (where these exist) for shellfish SME’s to participate in RTDI initiatives.

• Identify future visions for the European shellfish sector by industry, including the identification of gaps and research needs, so as to lay the basis for more effective methodology for future dialogue and possible integration of the sector into the EATIP.
EUROSHELL does not seek to create new structures for knowledge management in the sector, but looks to strengthen the existing relationships between the existing one. Indeed with the objective of bridging the gap between science and producers, a link to different European policies was established: the EU aquaculture strategy of 2009, European Fishery Fund priority axis 4 (FLAGs, 2007-2013), EATiP (European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform) initiative (project AQUAINNOVA, 2010-2012).
So as to reduce the gap that now exists between sciences and European shellfish farmers, it was first necessary to clearly understand, and take into account, their approach to the problems they are facing. The shellfish farmer sees his/her business under complementary approaches.
The strategic vision for the European shellfish sector will need to be conceptualized in such a pattern that corresponds to thinking of the shellfish farmers.
The concept of extension has been proven, including in the agricultural sector, both in Europe and third countries. EUROSHELL proposed as hypothesis to appropriate this concept and to decline it to the specificities of shellfsih farming in such a scheme.
The extension is too often seen as a means of disseminating scientific and technical progress and technology transfer. This narrow definition is very unsatisfactory. The dissemination of knowledge is not one-way: from scientific community to producers. Shellfish farming empirical knowledge shall also be identified, analyzed, enhanced, circulated and disseminated.
On the other hand producers need not only technical information. It is rare that a simple technical solution is sufficient to deal with the technical but also regulatory, economic, commercial, social and environmental aspects.
A business leader must have information on the legislative and regulatory framework, the market, and the demands of consumers. Making information more accessible is not sufficient to make it operated properly: at the different levels where they develop activities (farms, local unions, regional or national professional organizations), producers must be able to analyze their own constraints, search and test solutions, and choose from existing service offerings.
Shellfish extension should facilitate the interactions and develop synergies within a global information system which should help authorities, coastal land communities, applied research, education and training and a broad set of economic operators. By improving the individual and collective producers’ initiative capabilities, this facilitation will in the short term a better match to the constraints of the shellfish farmers, in the middle term it will fill progressively the gap between science and producers, and in the long term it will structure the sector by a continuous search for innovation.
With this hypothesis and scheme, the objectives of EUROSHELL were simultaneously simple and ambitious in the short period of time allowed to the project between the 1st October 2012 and the 30th March 2014:
- to confirm that extension is a relevant solution to bridge the gap between professional and scientists,
- to define the methodology and tools necessary to build an extension network,
- to fully integrate the resulting vision into the EATiP strategic agenda for research and innovation,
- to initiate an embryo of network, to do recommendations for its further grow, and to disseminate all of them, especially in the framework of the establishment by each Member State of the National strategic plan for aquaculture and the programming document of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) for the period 2014/2020.
The last objective was seen as being critically important, so as to ensure that the EUROSHELL recommendations can be implemented with the financial support of EMFF and by this, the opportunity to give an impetus to the aquaculture sector in Europe, contributing to the European objectives defined in the framework of Horizon 2020.

Project Results:
I/ Stakeholders consultation meetings
1)Methodology
From the beginning of the project, the coordinator gave access to an Extranet to each member and partner with a calendar indicating the main dates and a shared repository containing all the files in relation with the project. The Work package leaders had options to create events and files, while the other partners could read, comment and download them.

EUROSHELL management and stand by steering activities was ensured by the members of its Executive and Drafting Committee (EDC). This committee is composed by the coordinator and the work package leaders (CNC, EAS, EMPA, DLO and IFREMER).
Before each European or regional meeting the coordinator and the work package leader drafted a background document, an agenda, and in some case additional material. These documents, after validation by EDC, were sent to each invitee.

2) 1st Stakeholders meeting = validation of the approach
A first meeting gathering 60 shellfish stakeholders from all the partner countries – Italy, Ireland, United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and France – and of different profiles – producers, scientists, extension workers, teachers, FLAG and public authorities representatives – took place at the beginning of the project, on the 27th and 28th of November 2012 in la Teste de Buch near Arcachon in France, just prior to the World Oyster Congress held in Arcachon that year.
The purposes of the meeting were:
- to present the project
- to underline the importance for the shellfish sector to play a more important role in the European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform, the project being an opportunity for it
- to present the role of FARNET, support unit of the Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAG), in transferring best practice for animation and knowledge transfer
- to present an initiative of extension group for the shellfish sector
- to discuss the opportunities and constraints in transferring knowledge between producers, scientists and other experts and the best-practices to overcome these constraints, through examples from the represented countries
- to define the priorities for extension and the priorities for research
- to discuss the tools proposed by Euroshell and how to develop them: a knowledge database and a map of the sector
A report of this meeting is available on the EUROSHELL website.
The outcomes of this first meeting were the basis for further discussion and development during the regional consultation workshops.

3) Regional consultation workshops = consolidation
7 regional forums were organized in 5 of the partner countries:

- In Brittany (France) on the 7th of February (see deliverable D5.1)
- In Poitou-Charentes (France) on the 20th of March (see deliverable D5.2)
- In the Mediterranean region (France) on the 10th of April (see deliverable D5.3)
- In Italy on the 25th of June (see deliverable D5.6)
- In Spain on the 30th of July (see deliverable D5.5)
- In Ireland on the 28th of August (see deliverable D5.4)
- In the Netherlands on the 13th of September (see deliverable D5.7)
These forums aimed at gathering local shellfish stakeholders – producers, scientists, teachers, public authorities and FLAG representative – to define the needs and issues of the shellfish sector, establish priorities for research, give their ideas on the concept of extension and on the best way to implement an extension network. It was also the opportunity to present and collect opinions on the tools that were being developed within the project, that are the map of the sector and the knowledge database. For each forum, a structure transferring knowledge or a Fisheries Local Action Group, was invited to present its organization.
Between 20 and 45 persons attended each forum, which means a total number of more than 200 shellfish stakeholders were consulted locally.
The outcomes of these forums were validated during the 2nd and last stakeholders’ meeting.

4) 2nd stakeholders meeting = validation of major outcomes and tools
The 2nd stakeholders’ meeting took place in Rotterdam in the Netherlands on the 15th and 16th of January. The same people as for the 1st meeting were invited and new people attended. 3 more countries were represented: Greece, Denmark and Portugal.
The aims of this final meeting were to present the final version of the tools, to present a summary of the regional consultations, to validate the roadmap for research and to agree on the functioning and implementation of an extension network. The integration of shellfish issues in the EATIP was also reiterated.
Furthermore, it was the opportunity to stress the importance of integrating extension into the national strategic plans for aquaculture required by the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for the period 2014 to 2020.


II/ Tools for extension

Several tools were developed to enable to better share knowledge. They are hosted on the project’s website.
1) A knowledge database
Under the responsibility of EAS, the leader of WP3 “Reviewing current knowledge”, a database has been created that gathers shellfish knowledge coming from European, national and regional projects.
A specific template for the individual project summaries has been set up (deliverable D3.1). It describes the knowledge that has been generated and emphasizes the relevance to the sector and the outputs that can/have been transferred to companies within the sector.
EAS compiled a list of recently completed and ongoing EU projects that are relevant to the shellfish sector and produced summaries of these projects. Each RTD partner was asked to identify national and regional projects, and fill in the template so as to create a factsheet for each project (deliverable D3.2). Some applied projects implemented or supported by the professionals at the local level, complement the list.
All the projects have then been integrated into the online database tool. A user manual is available to explain how to upload a project into the database, so that partners and other shellfish stakeholders can continue to populate the database after the end of the project.
The EUROSHELL online knowledge database contains summaries of European and National research programmes that are relevant to the shellfish sector. It also contains knowledge summaries based on technical reports and other relevant ‘grey’ literature. The summaries provide information on the challenges and core objectives of the work, as well as the principal outputs or products that resulted from it.

2) A roadmap for research
During the 2 stakeholders’ meetings and the 7 regional workshops, participants were asked to identify the issues and needs of the shellfish sector. A first draft in the form of a scheme was proposed to the participants of the first regional meetings, who commented and rectified it. Each workshop enriched the scheme and the version of the last workshop (Netherlands) was validated during the final meeting in Rotterdam.

The regional workshops conclude on the following scheme, based on the vision that each shellfish enterprise leader has, very linked to its day by day reality:
- Its territory,
- Its product,
- Its market,
- The governance in which he participates.

Base on this scheme, a final version was drafted by the EDC member before the stakeholder meeting and sent to the participants. The main objective was to ensure a compatibility with the methodology and presentation adopted by EATiP for fish farming activities, so as to complete its vision and strategic agenda for research and innovation.

From these issues, priorities for research have been identified (deliverable 2.7):
Product – Production
✓New and existing technologies
oDevelop new technologies for product packaging and processing
oDiversify products and species (find alternatives to Crassostrea gigas), favoring indigenous species
oDevelop offshore production techniques to minimize land use conflicts
oUnderstand the causes of the mortality crisis and find solutions
oDevelop new culture practices
oFind solutions to fight against predators / competitors / invasive species
oDevelop by-products (e.g. waste shells).

✓Shellfish quality, consumption and human health
oImprove shelf life, including during transport, apply supply-chain monitoring
oStrengthen traceability, labeling of products and control of the quality.

✓Lifecycle and biology of cultivated species
oTrophic capacity : conduct studies on shellfish nutrition sources (plankton); competition with invasive species can be a limiting factor for shellfish culture in some areas, and studies on mitigation measures are recommended; EU water quality policy (marine and water framework directives) may lead to low nutrient levels in shellfish culture areas and consequences for food availability need to be addressed
oConduct studies on the lifecycle and its variation in different natural production areas
oDevelop life cycle analysis for Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA); address the risk of pollution and other negative impacts caused by the other components of IMTA on shellfish
oImprove management of wild shellfish stocks.

✓Spat supply
oImprove the management of natural wild settlement to allow better natural collection
oDevelop hatcheries to diversify supply and improve year-round availability.
Territory-environment
✓Water management
Water quality is a critical issue. Although it is not new, it is a high priority for the shellfish farmers. In some countries water quality concerns mainly sanitary control, while in other areas harmful blooms and contaminants are issues. If translocation is at stake, water quality issues deal with areas of origin as well as areas of destination.
The workshop addressed the following topics and needs:
oSystem to have an early warning of harmful algal blooms, and measures to mitigate impacts
oFocus research on the impact of pollutants on shellfish’ health (e.g. pesticides) and the means to eradicate the sources of pollution
oImprove watershed management in shellfish culture areas
oA system to improve the classification from B to A class if data show this to be allowed
oBioremediation and phytoremediation for shellfish aquaculture
oImprove water treatment systems in areas with discharges
oSpecial protection for shellfish waters
oBiosecurity: monitoring and prevention of invasive species

✓Spatial planning
Spatial planning of aquaculture is highly relevant for the shellfish industry, as space is considered as the main limiting factor for expansion of the industry. The main research issues are:
oHow to deal with shellfish cultivation in protected areas (Natura 2000)
oImplement measures to protect territories, particularly those where shellfish farming is practiced, while ensuring that these measures do not constitute barriers limiting shellfish farming
oIdentify and classify suitable areas for shellfish farming with appropriate criteria such as access to the coast.

✓Shellfish health
Shellfish health and diseases are major topics, given the vulnerability of shellfish culture for diseases; the main research topics are:
oDevelop predictive tools to be able to maximize farming practices and to respond to crises (closures)
oImprove environmental monitoring and information towards professionals, including a better responsiveness of monitoring networks
oDevelop techniques allowing companies to adapt to health issues (innovative equipment, closed loops, water treatment techniques, etc.)
oRisk management – biotoxins, disease and microorganisms.

✓Relation with other stakeholders
oAnalyse constraints arising from other plans

✓Climate change
The impacts of climate change for the shellfish include risks of storm damage, invasive species and acidification.
ospecific studies are needed to understand the effects of acidification on shell formation
✓Ecosystem services
During the Rotterdam workshop more attention was given to ecosystem goods and services of shellfish, as a concept that should be applied to identify the productive aspects of shellfish culture to other stakeholders and interest groups; it is recommended to:
oConduct research on the goods and services of shellfish aquaculture, and quantify them in order to better address the benefits of shellfish culture in a broader context.
Market
✓Diversification
At the stakeholder meeting, there was some confusion about the terminology of diversification as a marketing tool; it was proposed to use the term “new market development”. The workshop came up with the following knowledge topics:
oDiversify markets, develop new markets, including abroad
oDiversify marketing modes, while maintaining a significant proportion of direct sales in order to reduce dependence on supermarkets and hypermarkets that impose low prices and prevent any monopoly
oExplore possibilities for diversification of activities (pescatourism, tasting...)
oDiversify product offerings: new species, new products (including processed products).

✓Communication
oCommunicate better on the quality of products, improve education and outreach
oImprove promotion on other markets, especially abroad to develop export
oConduct studies on the carbon footprint of local shellfish products compared to non-EU products and to other products (from aquaculture or others).

✓Labelling
oImprove the cost-effectiveness of labelling
oStrengthen the traceability with labels, certifications, PGI (Protected Geographical Indication).

✓Marketing
oImprove the distribution, delivery and packaging of products, optimize their transportation, etc. especially considering that it is a living product
oImprove supply chain monitoring (temperature loggers) to check and maintain fresh product quality
oPool marketing efforts among producers and / or distributors (cooperative)
oPromote local market of fresh products.

✓Establishing a "level playing field" within and outside Europe
This is a complex issue. Cultural differences make it difficult to work together even within Europe.
oImprove mechanisms which enable small producers to compete on markets.
Management and governance
✓Knowledge management
oEnsure the availability and effective use of research infrastructure in aquaculture across all boundaries to benefit the production
oDisseminate knowledge to different audiences (consumers, school, public ...)
oSupport public funding of research
oEncourage applied research
oImprove the accessibility to data resulting from monitoring and control activities
oCreate a national information repository (for example under the Ministry of Public Health) to overcome the fragmentation of data of interest for the sector (product data, environmental data)
oAnnual showcase of current research
oFacilitate access of industry to participate in research
oBetter coordination between scientists and professionals to pool research efforts.

✓Communication
oImprove the image of the sector: dirty banks, ugly infrastructure ... can give a bad image and harm the interests of the sector
oPromote the image of shellfish as a symbol of the territorial identity
oStrengthen communication in general, not only on the benefits of shellfish
oDevelop education programs to promote the quality of the product
oPublic and scientific communication
oDevelop a common communication strategy.

✓Assistance for companies
oDevelop a financial and administrative support
oDevelop a « one-stop shop » to help the establishment of young producers
oOffer training to improve fund raising capabilities and access to European programs
oGrant interest-free loans
oSimplify licensing
oDevelop compensation programmes for disease (as in agriculture).

✓Representation of the industry to decision-makers (lobbying)
oDevelop a clear and common message of the industry
oIncrease the empowerment of producers
oReinforce confidence, cooperation and pooling between producers.

✓Promotion and development of human capital
oDevelop block-release training
oDevelop ad hoc training courses to get shellfish farming qualifications
oPromote the profession of oyster-opener, which gives value to products
oBetter train agents of the shellfish sector and strengthen communication among them.

✓Socio-economic data
oConduct more comprehensive and reliable studies on the profession, other than those relating to the production, to better understand the sector: market conditions, economic importance of the sector, sociological knowledge, business needs, economic sustainability of businesses, etc.
oMake this data available to professionals
oPromote the social and territorial implantation of the shellfish sector: it creates jobs and is related to other activities. It cannot be relocated.

✓Simplification and consistency of regulations and administrative procedures oflexibility in governmental policy

3) Research progress: database integration in the website

The knowledge database created within the work package 3 of the project contains about 170 projects. While these do not represent ALL shellfish research done at European and national level, it contains those initiatives that were agreed by producers as being highly relevant and that could have an impact on the sector.

The database is fully integrated into the website. Identified partners can submit new studies and associated results and outputs. The website is bind to google translation tools so that the essential of the data can be understand by any producer not speaking English.

The first way to browse the database is to search in the 4 themes identified by stakeholders:
- environment,
- product,
- market,
- management/governance.


Each project specifies which thematic area it is related to so that it makes the link with the research progress tool. This second way enables to quickly identify where knowledge is missing.

In addition each on can rate the project. The system stores each vote in each category of users (professional, scientists, decision makers/investor, and others) and display the average raised by the project. Both scientist and professional agreed on such a tool to better highlight successes, but also to draw attention on projects not reaching their objectives or not having an impact for the sector.

For each thematic area appear on the graph all the related projects in the form of points, located horizontally according to their date. When clicking on a point appear basic information on the project. A link leads to the project factsheet to obtain more information.

Some thematic areas are covered by many projects, while others are not. The areas where projects are few, should be the areas on which research should focus.

4) Maps of the sector

Under the responsibility of IFREMER, leader of WP4 “Tools for an extension network”, a lot of maps of the shellfish sector have been created.

The Euroshell online map of the European shellfish sector enables to locate the various stakeholders for each partner country:
- shellfish farming production areas
- shellfish farmers’ organizations
- structures producing and/or transferring knowledge, technical centers
- Fisheries Local Action Groups

The industry partners were asked to provide information on the main production areas within their country (location, name of the area, species, number of companies, quantities produced) and on the shellfish farmers’ organizations (name, location, contact information, website).
Some difficulties have been encountered because the shapes of the coordinates were different, even within a country, which was especially the case for Spain. Thus, it was sometimes difficult for the cartographers to use the coordinates. There is a need for harmonization at the European scale.

Research partners were asked to provide information on the structures producing or transferring knowledge like research centers, universities, technical centers... (name, location, contact information, studied species, funding...).

The Fisheries Local Action Groups have also been integrated in the map, with the collaboration of the European Atlas of the Sea.

Some information linked to European projects on shellfish like Bivalife, Reproseed and Oysterecover, have also been added in the catalogue.
The map is hosted by the Sextant platform of IFREMER, which contains many other data that can provide relevant information for the shellfish sector. The catalogue is constantly supplied.
All of that map are fully integrated in the website with a geographical system and interface for end-users. They can browse the catalog, view the map, get information on a point/layer and add new layers so as to build their own maps. Each view can be downloaded and re-used in two formats: Image or Google Earth/Map.

5) A pedagogic document for the dissemination of results

A document has been created to summarize the results of the project in 5 languages (English, French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch) using vocabulary adapted to the industry as defined in the methodology for the implementation of extension in the shellfish farming sector (see chapter III). It explains the objectives of the project, the methodology and the main outcomes for the dissemination through 7440 shellfish farmers, members of European Mollusc Producers’ Association.

English version
French version
Italian version
Spanish version
Dutch version
Potential Impact:
Recommendations for the implementation of an extension network

1) Guidelines for knowledge transfer
Through the consultation meetings, a number of recommendations have been formulated by the participants, completed by research on the concept of extension in the sector of agriculture, as well as best practices developed in the partner countries.

THE PROBLEMS
One of the major problems identified is the system by which the careers of scientists are measured – notably their peer-reviewed publications, their administration and their teaching. Researchers are not recognised professionally for transfer and it may also be that in an environment of high competitiveness to access diminishing research funding, universities and public research institutes might actually keep back knowledge from peers and end users to be more competitive in certain fields of expertise.
Education and interest levels are also different in SMEs, especially small family companies that do not have the capacity to access information or implement knowledge in their daily operations.
In terms of actually sourcing and ‘packaging’ research knowledge for transfer there are often limitations on time and resources to do this, and especially concerning translation of the research findings and the assessment of their credibility. This problem may be compounded by the fact that some research has no direct, short term impact and it is not clear in many cases how to actually use the research outputs.
A final summary point raised here is the existence of a north/south divide in Europe that may operate on all the levels mentioned above. An example was provided for shellfish culture in Greece where the sector remains under-developed as it is not considered to be of strategic, political and socio-economic importance and hence resources are not directed towards its development.
In all shellfish producing countries – irrespective of their development status – there is a real need to strengthen connections and bridges between the structures, the tools and the regions.

THE SOLUTIONS
• A matter of will and attitude
To strengthen cooperation between scientists and producers, the most important is to want it.
Professionals must become more involved: in governance, decision-making regarding the industry and its organization, the demand for information and its dissemination between all stakeholders of the sector, including among professionals themselves, in collective actions (cooperative ...) ... and not just in times of crisis!


• Have common needs and priorities for all stakeholders involved in the network
The profession must continue to organize to have a common vision / direction, to formulate a clear message to decision-making bodies.
This common vision must be assorted to clear objectives to be communicated to scientists so that science can be oriented towards the search for solutions to the problems that the sector encounters.

• Encourage direct dialogue
Public meetings should be organized more regularly. For example, three meetings per year, and that, regardless of the current situation, regardless of the progress of projects.
Annual conferences can also be organized where short presentations are made, followed by open floor discussions.
These meetings can be organized by the national or regional organizations representing producers or by research centers or technical centers, or jointly. It is important to have physical meetings to discuss projects that are completed, ongoing and future, to discuss about progress and difficulties, in a transparent manner.
Each party must understand the work of the other. Professionals must understand that researchers cannot provide immediate nor generalizable solutions. The study results are sometimes only valid at a given time and place.
Scientists must, for their part, understand that professionals need practical and immediately applicable solutions. They must therefore explain their approach, hazards, setbacks, etc.

• Define the mandate and boundaries of the extension network, set the ‘plan’ and deliver it
It is necessary that the network is well organized and that the links are effective and constant. Each member of the network must have clearly defined functions and competences to avoid confusion, duplication and gaps.
If positions of aquaculture consultants are created, it is necessary that these advisers are networked.
Efficient coordination is the key. Researchers must better coordinate in order to avoid duplication of work. Producers can also benefit from a good coordination, helping them to solve problems in their companies (production, administration, etc.). And of course, science and industry must coordinate their action so that they can work together efficiently.

• Have an industry and a research ‘champion’
A focal point must coordinate extension activities and serve as a reference, a contact point for communication.

• Involve industry in RTD right from the inception of the programme(s)
Professionals should be involved in studies, from their formulation to their results. There is a strong need for consultation. These studies must be punctuated with steps during which stakeholders meet to report on the progress of the project, agree on the solutions and on any adjustments.

• Simplify the administrative procedures for their participation in RTD

• Provide courses for producers and incentives for participation

• Focus on demonstration and learning from each other
Demonstration by giving examples is a good way to popularize. It is generally easier to understand a phenomenon when observed oneself, even better, when experienced. Experiments are essential not only to advance the research, but also to understand various phenomena.
Meetings in the form of farm visits, lab visits, forums bringing stakeholders together, workshops, exchanges between professionals and scientists should be held regularly.
Of course, informal meetings can also take place ad hoc.
Discussion groups could be set up either by producers, or by local organizations, but the will/decision has to come from local producers. A group of about 10 producers can decide to work together. They organize regular meetings where they discuss about specific problems and try to find solutions together by experimentations. They can invite specialist, scientists, to bring some advice.

• Re-assess the rules for transfer within the evaluation of projects and keeping them alive after the funded phase
Knowledge transfer should become part of each research project. It should be evaluated and become a condition for the final payment.

• Develop communication tools
Without multiplying letters, emails, and other messages, information must circulate more. For example, it is important to send newsletters regularly, from CRC to professionals and scientists, as well as from scientific and technical centers to professionals.
Scientists or technical centers should write data sheets or synthetic information to be disseminated towards professionals. Again, it is important that the transmission of information is regular.
A website to exchange information, views, suggestions from various stakeholders can be implemented => Euroshell project website could provide a discussion forum.
Social media can be used to disseminate information.
Short messages services (SMS) can also be used for urgent and important information.
Fun filled and attractive professional magazines may be edited.
It is important to diversify communication tools. Some producers do not have access to the Internet so it is necessary to send them information by mail-post.

• Popularize knowledge
Popularize means to transmit knowledge in a pedagogical manner. This involves adapting the speech to the public, using clear and understandable language. Scientific language has to be translated into plain language.
The information to be transmitted should be simplified without being distorted.
Its context must be well explained as it may not be transferred from one place to another, from one period to another. The words must not be generalized.
Extension must be done in different directions, not only from scientists to professionals, but also from professionals to scientists. Fore knowledge and skills that are developed by those who are on the field are as important as those provided by research. Scientists need this empirical knowledge. This empirical knowledge should be centralized in order to make it available for the techno-scientific world.
Scientific knowledge and empirical knowledge are complementary.
In addition, knowledge is co-constructed, everyone can contribute with expertise, discovery, criticism, etc. underpinning knowledge. There is not on one side those who know and on the other side those who know nothing.

• Rely on competent "extension workers"
Disseminate knowledge requires special skills. First, the extension worker must have strong knowledge on the area, enjoy teaching, be a pedagogue, and have interpersonal skills. He/she may be neither scientific nor professional, which also allows him/her to be neutral. He/she must establish trust with his/her interlocutors and maintain a balanced relationship.
Positions of aquaculture consultants or advisers could be created, as agricultural advisors. They could ensure a scientific and administrative watch to collect, sort, verify, gather, cross-check, synthesize and disseminate information. They could play a role of matchmaker between scientists and professionals.
Without intermediary, if scientists want and can transmit information directly, it is essential that they have the qualities mentioned above. Scientific or the person that has knowledge should be humble, should not behave like the only one who knows in front of an ignorant audience. He must explain the difficulties encountered, why it takes time, why it does not work.
Meanwhile, the audience or those receiving the information must be indulgent, patient and respectful with regard to the person who gives its knowledge.
The person transferring knowledge must be able to translate the information from scientific language to plain language.

• Maintain a contingency ‘fund’ for individual or groups of SMEs to buy specific services for punctual needs.
The key drivers for the successful implementation of an extension network are trust and facilitation.
These drivers may be enacted through national producer or trade associations and they could focus on the big issues, notably coordination and administration of extension activities. In many cases, it is necessary to broaden the mandate of Producer Organisations (POs)s, technical centres, or other extension ‘units’ as the link/interface with local groups and funded by regional authorities. These transfer structures need to have a ‘collective memory’ of needs and previous research or other projects and initiatives.
Finally, while these local groups could lead on communicating science and transferring knowledge, they may also need another activity to incentivize participation by SMEs. This could take the form of benchmarking production performance on indicators developed by the participants; by rotating the regular meetings on participants’ farms and by organising visits to other farms in other regions or in other countries.

2) An extension network embryo (proposed scheme)

For the delivery of research outputs it is proposed to setup and work out extension networks. The network should facilitate the process of knowledge exchange in both directions, from science to practice as well as from practice to science.
It requires networking at different scales, from very local, where direct contact is easier, to the European level to benefit from the experiments of each one.
Principal responsibilities at each level of the extension network:

At the European level the EATiP is very well placed to maintain the tools that EUROSHELL has developed and to provide a forum for exchange of best practices.
The European Aquaculture Society (EAS) could also have a role of coordinating the sourcing of knowledge and the summaries that would continue to populate the EUROSHELL knowledge database. This could also be expanded to contain the complete set of summaries made for the EATiP in the AquaInnova initiative.

Another idea to keep the database up-to-date could be to include in it the public deliverables summaries of shellfish related projects that are conducted within Horizon 2020. This could be suggested to DG RTD and DG MARE.

At the Member State (MS) and local levels, in terms of the future direction of the EATiP, the clear focus is on the Mirror Platforms in each country that will follow the Vision and Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) developed by EATiP and ensure that research priorities developed by EATiP members and contributors are enshrined through the input of MS into the Horizon 2020 work programme and (possibly even more importantly) into national research programmes.

A scheme of how the different organisations and associations potentially fit in and around the Advisory Council on Aquaculture (ACA) is presented below. This comprises the core of the AAC and its two major initial tasks of mapping the sector and refining the research database and roadmap. It also shows how organisations at the three operating levels (EU, MS and local) could fit together and how this may be achieved for those organisations involved in research (below left), in the EATiP (below centre) and representing producers (below right), with the arrows showing the communication flows between the various components.


It is anticipated that the AAC will only be made up of associative structures (and not individual companies or institutes) and that 60% of AAC members will be directly involved in the aquaculture value chain and 40% stakeholders that have an activity or interest in its place in society.

One network that is missing from the scheme below is the FLAGs, as they will not be directly involved in the AAC, even though they may have a critical importance in delivering shellfish extension, as highlighted by the outcomes of the consultations.

FLAGs could play a role in hosting extension workers. However, a new mission must be attributed to them because for the moment, these groups do not have the competence for transferring knowledge. Their mission is to finance and carry out projects gathering various actors of the concerned territory for its sustainable development. If there are not enough FLAGs on the territory to ensure the missions of transferring knowledge as close as possible to the producers in an adequate way, then another structure could be designated to host the extension worker.

It also clearly appeared that the implementation and hosting of extension workers at the local level will be organised at the initiative of the professionals according to their organisation mode: association, syndicate, producers’ organisation, FLAG... Synergies must occur at both national and European levels.

Finally, there was clear consensus that the shellfish sector needs a strong network at all operating levels to be able to feed back into research planning and especially to prepare sufficiently for the discussions and decisions that will be adopted by the AAC and proposed to the European Commission.
The extension worker ensures a link between scientists and producers via FLAGs and local structures (regional committees, producers’ organizations...), and discussion groups.
Technical centres also play an important role in the network. They are the physical point of meeting between producers, scientists, trainers, who allows them to experiment together.
If possible, local discussion/extension groups, gathering about ten producers, are created in each production area.

Operation of the network
By using the tools set up within Euroshell on the knowledge database, as well as the cartography to know where the resources are, the extension workers should be able to bring the producers’ needs to the scientists and transfer information to them which they can obtain by using the tools or by contacting directly a research organization. They organize regular information meetings on specific subjects according to the producers’ requests.
The extension workers are related to each other so that they can propose common meetings with producers from various areas, organize visits, etc. They meet regularly at a general assembly to exchange on the best practices.

Local discussion groups
Modelled on extension groups of farmers in France or discussion groups of dairy producers in Ireland, discussion or extension groups can be set up in the shellfish sector. They can be initiated then overseen by the local representative structures. They should have regular meetings to discuss the encountered problems and to try to bring solutions together. Scientists or other experts are regularly invited to bring their knowledge on specific subjects. The results are reported in the knowledge database. A group member can also intervene in other groups to bring some advice.
Missions of each structure of the network

European level:
- AAC (Aquaculture Advisory Council): coordination of the network.
- EATiP: Manager of the network and Euroshell tools (database, map...); organization of annual assemblies of extension workers (in link with FLAGs’ assemblies), provide a forum for best practices exchanges (link with FARNET).
- EAS: coordinate the sourcing of knowledge and the summaries that would continue to populate the EUROSHELL knowledge database.
National level: organization of assemblies of extension workers at the national level (in link with other national meetings). Transmit information to all the regions, through the newsletter.
Mirror Platforms will be set up in each country to follow the Vision and the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) developed by EATiP and ensure that research priorities developed by EATiP members and contributors are enshrined through the input of Member States into the Horizon 2020 work programme and into national research programmes.
Regional level: close link with the FLAGs. Transmit information through the area.
FLAG: hosts the extension worker, official employer.
Extension worker: coordinates the discussion groups; ensures the link between scientists and producers.
Discussion/extension group: exists where a request from producers has been made. In link with the extension worker, it elaborates its own objectives, calendar, and organisation.
To allow such network to function, it is essential that producers’ organizations are reinforced, with the support of local administrations. They must have technical staff which helps them to define the problems and to require that research and concrete actions are conducted to solve these structural problems. In addition, research centers must approach professionals, and their projects must be adapted to the sector’s requests.

The main need is to find a stable source of funding, which allows the network to last. The whole structure must be supported also by the production itself. The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund could help to finance the extension network and activities, providing that it is stated in the programming document

List of Websites:

http://www.euroshell-net.eu/

Related information

Contact

Martial MONNIER, (Directeur général)
Tel.: +33 142974844
E-mail
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