The EU-funded AQUAEXCEL (Aquaculture infrastructures for excellence in European fish research) project set out to stimulate collaboration within the European aquaculture research sector. Project partners built an interactive map that provides an in-depth overview of over 100 aquaculture RIs in Europe and their expertise, facilities and services. They mapped the research needs of European aquaculture RIs, which helped to identify gaps. Best practices guidelines were developed, analysed and disseminated on various issues affecting the aquaculture industry. A data management tool was also created to organise, maintain and distribute data on aquaculture research. Transnational access resulted in the funding and implementation of 97 innovative projects. European aquaculture researchers from academia and industry were given the opportunity to conduct experiments in leading RIs. The AQUAEXCEL team developed new phenotyping tools and methods to help provide more accurate data from experimental fish. It also created tools to analyse fish health under stress, to indicate the onset of puberty and to tag fish in early life. Progress has been made in developing new genetically identical lines of salmon, sea bass and carp. Salmon is set to hatch in 2015, with carp and sea bass likely to follow within two years. These will allow scientists to replace, reduce or refine the number of animals used in experiments. AQUAEXCEL also pioneered four training courses in cutting-edge techniques employed in aquaculture research. This will improve staff performance and the employability of European aquaculture professionals. By coordinating access to outstanding aquaculture RIs, AQUAEXCEL provided European researchers with the necessary tools to address the complex challenges facing the aquaculture sector.
Aquaculture, research infrastructures, fish research, salmon, sea bass, carp