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Scientific basis and tools for preventing and mitigating farmed mollusc diseases

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 (B):

B. [2015] Scientific basis and tools for preventing and mitigating farmed mollusc diseases

Proposals should consider pathogens with documented impact on the production of the main farmed species of mollusc in Europe (oysters, mussels, clams and scallops). They should focus on minimising transmission and impact of disease, while addressing risk assessment and management of infected farmed molluscs. They should also consolidate the basis for genetic selection of mollusc strains resistant to the most relevant pathogens. Particular focusshould be put on oyster pathogens and diseases, with emphasis on Oyster Herpes virus (OsHV-1), in order to better understand genetic diversity, pathogens spread, pathogenicity and key drivers of emergence and/or absence of disease outbreaks in relevant parts of the world. In line with the objectives of the EU strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation and in particular with the implementation of the International KBBE Forum priorities, should aim at developing an international network on oyster diseases and mortalities, between Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Japan, S. Korea and EU[1].

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of  EUR 4 million for (B) 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

[1] This is without prejudice to the general rules on the funding of legal entities from third-countries, as set in part A of the annex to the work programme.