Skip to main content

The future of research on aquaculture in the Mediteranean Region

Final Report Summary - AQUAMED (The future of research on aquaculture in the Mediteranean Region)

Executive Summary:

The sustainable development of fresh and marine water Mediterranean aquaculture is an important issue for all the bordering countries. The sector is confronted to recurrent crisis due to inadequate production systems and competitiveness, interaction and space competition with other users and the need for a proper integration in the coastal zones, possible negative impact on the environment and negative image of the product quality, in spite of initiatives from national and international bodies, such as the committee of aquaculture of the general fisheries commission for the Mediterranean. Fundamental and applied research projects address these issues at a regional or local scale. The existence of common constraints for Mediterranean bordering countries underlines the interest of a collective initiative to pool efforts. The objectives of the Aquamed project, gathering 15 countries, are to reinforce the Mediterranean research sector and to create a sustained multi-stakeholder platform, providing the interested parties with clear and shared information and priorities for future research.
The first step of the project was to draw a complete picture of the research activities, ongoing projects, teams and facilities in the field of aquaculture around the Mediterranean, in order to set the foundation of the platform and to understand the fundaments of the existing research structures and activities. To reach this goal, the project needed to collect, at each country level, information on the activity, which included a list of the main stakeholders, key information on national regulatory mechanisms and governance and an inventory of all means and initiatives in the field of aquaculture. All the data collected were organized and stored in a database and then processed for analyses.
The second step was to define common situations and constraints between Mediterranean countries, which are much contrasted in terms of importance of the sector, domestic market demand, typology of the industry, research and development structures and capacities.
Countries confronted to similar driving forces were grouped in order to foster information exchanges and to formulate more focussed science-based recommendations.
In parallel, all along the project, the partners did set up a multi-stakeholder platform to promote and share research directions. This platform benefited from the synthesis of the research analyses, which allowed to set the right scopes and directions. It produced a revolving implementation plan based on the identification of plans of action to overcome the top constraints to the sustainable development of aquaculture, that were identified and ranked by the stakeholders. An assessment tool for monitoring the sustainability of the Mediterranean aquaculture sector in general and more specifically of research in aquaculture in the Mediterranean region was set up, based relevant sustainability indicators validated during the project events and an easy to use frame. At the end of the project, the Aquamed platform was adopted as a subsidiary body of the Committee of Aquaculture of the General Fisheries commission for the Mediterranean, which enables its long term activity..
The project did open new concepts to rationalize research programming in order to identify efficient research programs avoiding duplication fragmentation and dispersion of research efforts and to stimulate a long-term cooperation and coordination among policy makers, aquaculture industry and RTD performers in the Region. The Project consortium, covering most of the situations of the aquaculture sector met in the Mediterranean, did put the emphasis on the participatory approach, the dissemination of the outcomes of the AQUAMED activities and the continuation of operation of the multi-stakeholder platform for years after the project ends. Mediterranean aquaculture is facing various constraints related to different environmental, economic, social and institutional factors. Therefore sharing intellectual and physical research resources remains a challenge. So far, all the stakeholders involved during the project recognized a clear mutual benefit generated by an open dialogue and cooperation opportunities. The continuation of the platform operation will reinforce it and contribute efficiently to a more sustainable development of the Mediterranean aquaculture.
Project Context and Objectives:of difficulties as inadequate production systems and competitiveness, interaction and space competition with other users and the need for a proper integration in the coastal zones, possible negative impact on the environment and negative image of the product quality. In addition, the aquaculture development in the Mediterranean countries is very contrasted in terms of importance of the sector, domestic market demand, typology of the industry, and research and development structures and capacities. Consequently, a strategy for a knowledge-based development of the activity has to be implemented, using a flexible and concerted approach. To deliver practical results, the AQUAMED project was based on a five step process consisting in (1) mapping and setting a database of all relevant information (about policies, research and socio-economy) in each partner country, (2) identifying common situations and constraints between countries, (3) grouping countries confronted to similar driving forces in order to foster information exchanges and formulate more focussed science based recommendations, (4) setting up of a multi-stakeholder platform in order to promote a research organisation and an revolving implementation plan aiming at the sustainable development of aquaculture and (5) defining the proper means to continue the platform operation after project ends.
The work packages of the project articulate in two main periods, the first one focussing on data collection and identification of groups of countries confronted to similar situations, the second one on the multi-stakeholder platform setting up and operation for recommendations and on the platform long term sustaining.
The detailed main objectives of the first period were:
- to reach a common understanding of the project objectives, structure and outcomes and to identify collectively the most efficient way to reach them (WP2),
- to collect all relevant information concerning the current status of aquaculture research: teams and national background organization, infrastructures, networks, capacity building opportunities, research strategies, funds related to aquaculture, sustainability frames at the national level, programs and projects, in each partner country (WP4). The planned approach consisted in realizing bibliographical reviews and surveys based on questionnaires in each country and the control and validation of the information collected by the national contact partner, who is the only one having a global view on the sector in his country. The mapping of key stakeholders, areas and expertise, existing research means, projects and networks and the way they interact at the national level constitute the primary foundation of the project. The validated data were organised in a database designed in WP4 and 5, with the help of WP2.
- to organize and store the data collected into a common open web based database, that is partly open (WP5). The information gathered under a common template through WP4 was used to build a database. An agreement among partners defined the level of confidentiality of each type of data collected and the terms of their use (some data are confidential for the consortium partners (e.g. production data), some are available for the public). The database was organised in such a way as to be easily accessible (easy interface) and used for analysis at the country level and for comparison with other country situations (WP6). The database provides in a clear and accessible mode updated and overall information on the current aquaculture sector in the Mediterranean to the public.
- to start the process of setting up an international multi-stakeholder platform aimed to identify, discuss and prioritise the needs for further research, keeping in mind that the platform has to remain an active tool after the end of the project (WP9).
The link between the two periods was the WP6, which objective was to establish a typology of partner countries regarding the main constraints they are confronted to, based on the identification and analysis of their similarities and dissimilarities for each of the main constraints (WP6). It is aimed at facilitating discussions - first inside groups of countries confronted to similar drivers and constraints of the aquaculture sector (intermediate platforms)
- and then among groups of countries, in particular during the platform meetings.
Grouping the countries confronted to similar situations aims at triggering stakeholder communication on some key relevant constraints / situations and consequently prepares the set up of the final multi-stakeholder platform (WP9).
The detailed main objectives of the second period of the project were:
- to identify research needs and overlaps of research means, in order to formulate recommendations at the group of country and at the regional levels, based on the identification of the main constraints limiting the development of a sustainable aquaculture at the 2 levels and using the project database and additional more specific information if needed (WP7). Under the general objectives of facilitating the future programming of research at national, EU and Regional levels and technology development activities, this WP did focus on identifying research needs and proposals for structuring the research sector in Mediterranean Aquaculture, likely opening the opportunity for an ERANET like process. The WP7 did identify the main shortcomings and overlaps in research resources and proposed tools and recommendations to improve the efficiency of the research system through improved coordination and integration of research resources and activities. The analysis and recommendations at Mediterranean level were discussed and validated during the project events.
- to set-up a tool (specific indicators and software) for monitoring the sustainability of the Mediterranean aquaculture sector in general and more specifically of research in aquaculture in the Mediterranean region, providing a frame for evaluation of the progress. A method to enable follow up of the impact, using selected sustainability indicators (WP8) was selected.
The selection of relevant sustainability indicators was carried out and validated during the project events. The selected indicators were organized in a logical and easy-to-use frame, enabling monitoring of the development of sustainable aquaculture and of the research in aquaculture in the Mediterranean. Feedback mechanisms from the stakeholders to the monitoring system were established.
- to set-up a specific multi-stakeholder platform, defining its size, composition, terms of reference. The platform aims at securing effective communication and feedback from the stakeholders during and after the end of the project and was operated during 2 major events.
Solutions to keep it operational after the end of the project were to be found (WP9) and the terms of reference of the multi-stakeholder platform were elaborated all along the project. The concepts and structure of the project were validated during the project events. The coconstruction of the platform all along the project is a key aspect, which contributed to its adoption by all stakeholders who recognised its usefulness. It is the key to maintain it active and efficient, using already identified existing structures and projects at the Mediterranean and EU levels.
All the progress were accompanied and facilitated
- by WP2, which objective was to provide relevant information for shared working tools and convenient methods. This work package identified the best adapted methods for the project consortium (made up of partners with very different backgrounds: research performers, socioeconomic studies, development, industry, NGOs of EU and non-EU countries), in order to reach a common understanding of the concepts of “Multi-Stakeholders platform” and “Sustainable mutual benefit”. All along the project duration WP2 provided directives and guidelines so that the focus of the work was generated from the beginning of the project. The work package provided methodological advices and support on methods, on approaches and definition of the most applicable methodologies for all work package leaders. Through adaptation of this overall approach, a synergy between the procedures used in the different work packages was obtained and the overall project efficiency was increased. WP2 was the core provider for methods, in order to achieve the sustainability of the platform, providing the insurance that the most efficient available methodologies to reach the objectives of the different work packages are used properly throughout the project, which is mandatory for the performance of the project.
- and WP3, which contributed to the organization of the project and platform meetings, carrying out the dissemination of the project information towards a broad target audience (including the project stakeholders) and the feed back collection from end users and stakeholders, either directly or during the project events (platform meetings). It contributed to improve the relationships and understanding between RTD providers and the commercial sector in order to achieve buy-in to the multi-stakeholder platform. This work package delivered its outputs all along the duration of the project. It defined the best organisation tools and implementation process for an optimal delivery from the project events, which are key moments to stimulate and organise internal communication and validate the results of the WPs. It organised the external communication of the project and secured an efficient feedback from the main stakeholders. It was the tool for targeting and reaching all the potential stakeholders, including those that are not in the first circle of awareness. This work package secured (1) reaching a real common understanding among partners and stakeholders with very diverse backgrounds and (2) carrying out the co-construction of an efficient and sustainable multi-stakeholder platform, which is the main output of the project.
Five main observers and sub-contractors: the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (FEAP), the European Aquaculture Society (EAS), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research (NOFIMA) contributed to the project meetings and steering committee meetings. Their objective was
- to provided advices on the key decisions to make during the course of the project and help to keep a constant contact with the main stakeholders outside the project consortium.
Project Results:
1. Data collection and database
The first main objective of the first period of the project was to collect relevant data concerning the research aquaculture activities in the partner countries. The characteristics of the data necessary to implement the project were first discussed during the kick off meeting in Barcelona (June 2010) and a consensus on the level of data precision to be collected was reached during WP leaders meeting in Shiphol in July 2010. During this meeting, the characteristics of the necessary data were precisely described. The key data were grouped in three categories concerning research projects, research institutions and aquaculture stakeholders. To collect them, 3 questionnaires were prepared to be filled in by each national representative.
In order to facilitate the collection process, during the second project meeting (Casablanca February 2011) it was decided that the 3 databases could be accessed and filled in through internet. INRA offered to host the database in one of its servers in Montpellier, using LIMESURVEY Software. From May 2011, the links to the online-questionnaire were available to the AQUAMED partners. From that moment, WP4 and WP5 were closely linked and worked in close relation, which was beneficial for the efficiency of the data collection and database set up process.
In order to ease the data access by the national representatives, two letters explaining the objectives of the project and its expected impact were prepared by the Scientific coordinator for the use of the National representatives.
The data collection process could be followed by all partners, thanks to a template that was sent every week by WP4 leader to the national representatives. When the process of data collection was closed on November 2011, 533 descriptions of research projects (507 complete information and 26 to be completed by the national representatives), 145 descriptions of research institutions and 218 descriptions of stakeholders were submitted. All the information collected was sent back to the national representatives for cleaning and completing information by mid-November and the database was closed at the end of 2011. All partners had to agree upon the necessity of a periodic updating and cleaning of the information collected. The method and means to carry out this periodic upgrading will mainly depend upon the final storage tool of the database and upon its use by the partners (at the national level), by the final multi-stakeholder platform (international level) and also of the degree of accessibility by the public and have to be identified. During data collection, it was agreed with stakeholders and the project partners that some specific data will stay confidential and for the own use of the AQUAMED consortium until the end of the project. The partners believe that the information collected through AQUAMED may be very useful for national and international bodies and it is a valuable and essential tool for the multi-stakeholder platform which was operated during the project and will be active after the end of the project. It was consequently logical to identify a long term database storage tool and updating process closely related to the final user of the platform. As the platform was finally adopted as a subsidiary body of the Committee of Aquaculture (CAQ) of the General Fisheries commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), the database will be hosted by the SIPAM (Information system for the promotion of aquaculture in the Mediterranean), which is the entity hosting the CAQ databases and wanted to create a specific database on research in Mediterranean aquaculture.
A complete description of the activities carried out through WP4 and WP5 are available in deliverables 3 and 5.
2. Typologies
The second main step of the project was to identify relevant groups of countries forming intermediate multi-stakeholder platforms, in order to organize and optimize the exchange of information (WP6).
Based on the data collected at country level and organized in the database, the objectives of the WP6 were 1) to analyze the similarities and identify the various typical systems that are confronted with similar constraints, 2) to identify the main similar drivers and constraints of the aquaculture sector and 3) to create intermediate platforms regrouping countries bearing similar profile.
2.1 Data analysis for typology
It is supposed that research and dialog among stakeholders are the main drivers for a sustainable development of aquaculture. In contrast, a framework is needed to identify aquaculture constraints. A broad range of factors currently impede the sustainable development of aquaculture in its different dimensions (social, economic, ecological, and institutional), taking into consideration geographical and administrative characteristics and levels (international, European, national, local…) that Mediterranean countries are facing. All those factors are interacting as described below:
- Aquaculture activities are regulated by different more or less formal institutional frameworks, which are more or less restrictive due to the level of enforcement of law. The interaction between the aquaculture sector and institutions can be a source of constraints. For example in several European countries the EU Water Framework directive curbs the development of aquaculture, while the southern countries are facing governance problems at the territorial level. However, one institutional constraint common to all countries whatever their geographic position, is linked to the existence of an active professional organization (formal or informal) of the sector.
- Aquaculture activities are also constrained by the production systems in use. For example, coordination difficulties arise in Egyptian freshwater production because most of the aquaculture production comes from thousands of small scale farmers.
- Constraints regarding the links between aquaculture systems and the ecological, social and economic environments are strong and numerous, as for example water quality and quantity, space user conflicts, market instability or food cost. These constraints are different depending on farms scales (small, medium, large), the surrounding ecosystem (marine, freshwater) and the reared species.
- Constraints regarding the links between aquaculture systems and research concern, for example, the adaptation of the research programs to farmers’ situations and needs, or the involvement of farmers in research programs.
- Constraints regarding the links between aquaculture research and research in general concern the specific aquaculture research facilities and means in comparison to other research activities. This issue depends on the national political orientation regarding the development of aquaculture.
- Constraints regarding the links between aquaculture research and other institutions include all institutes playing a role in aquaculture development at different level (e.g. training institutions).
The information characterizing the aquaculture sector and research, collected at each country level using various questionnaires, have been organized in different datasets following the different dimensions. Five datasets were constructed, corresponding to Research institution data, Research projects data, Monographic data, Production data and Subjective data.
The datasets available may present several incomplete, erroneous or missing entries in spite of the fact that the quality of databases was to be checked. The fact that some of the datasets are incomplete prevented the use of some of the variables and improvements of the databases have to be carried out on a regular basis to adjust and completed them according to the issues addressed.
2.2 Typology build-up
After the literature and given the diversity of situations of the Mediterranean countries, there is not a unique model for the development of a sustainable Mediterranean aquaculture. It is therefore necessary to define common challenging questions taking account the diversity of contexts and to develop new forms of coordination and cooperation, contributing to match the areas of problems and solutions for the effective implementation of sustainability actions.
The creation sub-regional groups based on the proximity of the countries regarding their situation (production, governance, capacity of research) and their constraints (economic, social, environmental and institutional) contributes to build relevant area of thinking of specific problems in order to build future areas for collective action. It is important to keep in mind that the typology method is used at a macro level, means that it aims at answering global questions, and not to deal with specific technical questions.
The sustainable development of aquaculture is not a sectoral-restricted question because of the interdependence of the sector with the ecosystem, the institutional framework and the research. In the typology, three types of macro-questions were considered, concerning (1) the economic and technical performance of the exploitation/sector, (2) the interactions of theactivity with the socio economic and ecological environments and (3) the interactions of the activity with the research and the institutional frameworks.
The information collected on the current situation in each country was used to buildsubgroups considering these macro-questions. In order to define these macro-questions, constraints and drivers in aquaculture sector were identified and compared. The detailed methodology and results are available in deliverables 7 and 8.
Three synthesis typologies were suggested, based on the national dominant type of production, on the size of the companies and the total national production and on the relationships between the research and the production sector in each country.
The synthesis typology based on the dominant production evidenced 2 clusters depending on the proportion of the total production achieved in marine or fresh water: In Algeria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Spain and Tunisia, a large part of production is based on marine farming systems, when in Egypt, France, Israel, Italy, Morocco and Turkey it is based on freshwater farming systems.
The synthesis typology based on the size of the companies and the level of national total production identified 3 clusters of countries:
In Algeria, Morocco and Cyprus,
- The total fresh water production from small farms (< 100T), low (< 1000 T) is oriented towards the national market. The main constraints are a bad perception of the products and a lack of consumers.
- There is a small marine water total production (< 3000T) by medium size farms (100-1000T), except one large farm in Cyprus.
In Tunisia, Israel, France and Italy,
- The large total freshwater production (> 3000T) by small and large size farms (< 100T and 100-1000T) is oriented towards the National market and confronted to market and administrative constraints.
- The medium total marine production (> 1000T) from medium size farms (100- 1000T) (except one type in Israel). It is oriented to National and export markets and confronted to environmental constraints.
In Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Spain and Turkey,
- There is a large freshwater production (> 3000T) by Small and large farms (< 100T and 100-1000T) oriented towards the National and export markets. It is confronted to market, administrative and environmental constraints.
- The large marine production is due to farms of very diverse sizes and oriented to the National and export markets. The main constraint is administrative (special planning).

The synthesis typology based on relationships between research and the aquaculture finfish production sector shows 3 types of situations:
- in Morocco and Algeria, the small freshwater farms and production and medium marine farms provide a medium production level and there is a low research capacity / production level ratio.
- In Tunisia, Israël, Cyprus and Croatia, there is a large diversity of farm size and a low research capacity / production level ratio.
- In Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, there is a large diversity of farm size and production volumes in fresh and marine water and a high research capacity / production level ratio.
This typology provides the advantages of taking into account the size and the product ion of the farms (similar economic constraints), gathering countries facing similar researchconstraints and interactions with the socio-economic environment and to gather countries from north and south of the Mediterranean with similar research capacities. On the other hand, it is based only on the finfish production and does not mix countries with different research capacities. However, it facilitates discussion on both the research and production constraints and capacities and allows to build a diagnosis per group on these topics.
The third synthesis typology considers the type of production (fish, molluscs and algae).
Two clusters appear clearly with countries producing (or not) molluscs. The algae production sector is still very small in all the countries.
The most important point to bare in mind is that the synthesis typologies are not final products. They are proposed as an initial organization model to foster the discussion process inside the platform and depend mainly (1) on the available data taken into account and (2) on the questions that are raised. The typologies can be built not only by using mathematical tools as multivariate analysis, but also using shape figures (e.g. monographic data) or statistics (e.g. dominant production). A booklet explaining the method and use of typology was edited and disseminated. All proposed synthesis typologies have various advantages and disadvantages.
The decision on the organisation of the discussion groups for the multi-stakeholder platform has to be prepared before each meeting, in order to optimise the discussion – decision process inside the multi-stakeholder platforms. The groups may differ depending of the issue considered. This organization allows more efficient discussions, interactions and transfers of know how inside each group. When a consensus is found inside each group, the groups merge progressively in order to identify answers at the global level. A brochure explaining how to organize the groups was published in English and French and the detailed methodology elaborated through WP6 to create intermediate platforms is available in deliverables 8 and 9.
3. Identification of the main lacks and overlaps, constraints and recommendations: 31 Data collection completion and data analysis
The analysis of the data collected through WP3 and 4 shown the lack of some key data and complementary surveys had to be organized in order to collect them. Finally, a total of 103 research facilities were surveyed, including a wide range of experimental facilities with several culture systems for different species (32 hatcheries, 30 land-based tank systems, 24 cages at sea, and 17 intertidal areas dedicated to aquaculture research activities.
All countries have experimental hatcheries and land based facilities (except Egypt). Fish cages for pilot studies are available in all countries except France and Algeria. Areas dedicated to mollusk and integrated multitrophic aquaculture in intertidal areas are not available in the countries where mollusk culture is not an important production, such as Cyprus, Egypt and Greece.
A total of 343 analytical laboratories were recorded. According to the classification provided by the research institution contact point, analytical laboratories are clustered in eight different typologies: Physiology, Pathology, Nutrition, Genetics, Environmental impact, Aquaculture Biology and Oceanography. The number of laboratories per country varies greatly and 6 out of 12 countries have at least 1 laboratory for each discipline. Some countries, such as Algeria and Egypt, do not have analytical laboratories specialized in Physiology, Pathology, Genetics of aquatic species. Cyprus does not have laboratories concerning Physiology, Pathology, Nutrition and Environment impact.
According to the data recorded, the staff of research institutions involved in aquaculture accounts for a total of 2675 employees, 43% of which are research scientists, 32.3 % are technicians with a permanent position and 24.6 % are in training positions. Egypt, France, Italy and Turkey are the countries with the highest number of personnel working in aquaculture research, even though the training positions represent more than 1/3 of the institution staff in Egypt. The ratio between research scientists/technicians varies among countries: it is very low in Egypt (0.6) and Israel (0.7) and very high in Turkey (6.1). The mean ratio is 1:1.3 research scientists versus technicians.
All institutions are involved in research activities through projects and training. Advice for policy purpose is provided in almost every countries by research Institutions, except in Morocco and Algeria, where different advice systems are used. The institutions for Mediterranean research (budget, staff, projects) increase in most countries. This trend is stronger in the Southern Mediterranean countries.
The survey provided only a partial view of the research sector and it is far from being exhaustive. It highlighted the necessity to complete data collection for missing information, either from participating countries as Egypt, Spain and Lebanon or for countries not involved in the AQUAMED project, in order to get a global overview of the Mediterranean research potential in aquaculture. The need of specific statistics on research institutions/teams/projects/ involved in aquaculture at regional level is recognized as an important factor for future aquaculture planning. The identification of the main constraints limiting the development of a sustainable aquaculture resulted from a combination of the analysis of the information of the project data base, from complementary Delphi surveys organized and implemented by WP7 and from the participants during the multi-stakeholder platform meetings. The results of mapping existing aquaculture research resources and the identification of main shortcomings at country level are reported in a synthetic “Country profile fact sheet” elaborated by ISPRA and AquaTT for each Mediterranean country involved in AQUAMED, where the data are presented as a working document to be further implemented and completed.
The online consultation on the research sector in Mediterranean aquaculture to collect the lacking data, generated 115 responses from research institutions, universities and others public and private research organizations. The mapping of existing information on research institutions, teams, projects and partnerships across the AQUAMED partner countries provided an overview of the key players in aquaculture research and addressed national peculiarities as resource capacity and knowledge generated from research in aquaculture.
The study provided a first basis for informing national and regional information systems on research in aquaculture and contributed to fill the gap of information on data and statistics in aquaculture research in Mediterranean region. Two main categories of lacks were identified, concerning research capacity and information for aquaculture planning.
3.2 Main lacks:
The main lacks in aquaculture research capacity, that are considered most important and require further coordination and implementation concern mainly:
- the official statistics on national research institutions involved in aquaculture,
- the basic information to build performance variables assessing research capacity (research, team, organizations) and evaluation tools assessing the progress of research institutions towards research needs and objectives (indicators of research capacity),
- specific information on analytical laboratories and research experimental facilities existing for aquaculture at country level, including technical characteristics, services provided, operational capability (environment, species, available equipment..)
- weakness in scientific collaborations in regional research projects among research institutes in some Mediterranean countries,
- lacks of participatory projects aimed at strengthening stakeholder technical capacity through education and training in all Mediterranean countries,
- poor capacity of all Mediterranean institutions to intercept international funds and donors for research and development projects; most funded projects are from national funds and “core funding” sources at research institution level, Some poor skill capacities and weakness that are identified at country and group of countries levels on some research fields and concern in particular, research on product quality, consumer perception and safety of aquaculture products, mainly in north African countries and Turkey; research on feed and nutrition of aquaculture species and feed technology, mainly in Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Morocco and Turkey; research on animal health and welfare is almost completely lacking in north African countries and in Cyprus. The lack of skills in these research fields is associated to the lack of facilities and analytical laboratories; research on socioeconomic aspects of aquaculture, poorly studied in almost all Mediterranean countries, with the exception of France and Italy; knowledge management, which emerged as a very critical area: skill and activities on how to manage, create and disseminate knowledge are lacking in all Mediterranean countries. The “efficient utilization of research outputs” has been ranked as the most important constraint to aquaculture development by AQUAMED stakeholders.
The development of information systems that facilitate the flow of information and the sharing of knowledge among scientists, policy makers and stakeholders is a key factor to address the main issues for the development of sustainable aquaculture. Some types of aquaculture data and information are available at the regional levels, for instance the GFCM / CAQ / SIPAM and at national and local levels, but there is an evident lack of specific and integrated data information on aquaculture research. To improve the quality and usefulness of information on aquaculture research a number of communication mechanisms could be developed at the regional level, such as platforms to facilitate the exchange and use of aquaculture data among stakeholders or web-based Expert system on the SIPAM model.
Data collection and analysis for policy making and planning in aquaculture is mainly a national responsibility of countries. Although capacity in data collection may change among countries, it is widely recognized at European level that aquaculture statistic work should be better coordinated and integrated at different levels.
Deficiencies in data collection and information systems for aquaculture planning include:
- poor understanding of the purpose of the data collection and poor analysis of the data collected,
- lack of common definition and reference values adopted by those involved in data collection,
- poor quality (lack of reliability) of some of the available data,
- under-utilization of the data collected and ineffective communication on research results.
The opportunities for regional cooperation in aquaculture (like the one offered by AQUAMED), may enhance the efficiency of the aquaculture data system at national and regional levels, encouraging national efforts in data collection and facilitating the harmonization of methodologies, analysis and interpretation among Mediterranean countries.
3.3 Main overlaps
In the Mediterranean area there is a very heterogeneous framework pertaining research institutions in aquaculture, which results more into complementarities than overlapping. Some of the main overlaps are the following:
- Most of the research projects dealing with biological life cycle aspects of aquaculture species and applied research to farming technology, which are carried in several countries, use similar approaches and methodologies. This situation might be due to (1) the lack of information flow and knowledge dissemination among countries, so that duplications occur because research, institution and funding organizations are not aware of what has been already achieved in that field, and (2) the need to obtain funding at the national institution level, disregarding the possible waste of resources at the regional level and the risk of failing to achieve a potential innovation in research due to a too limited national resource.
- A large number of analytical laboratories (343) and experimental facilities (103) involved in aquaculture research were recorded at the Mediterranean level, thus is likely that duplication and overlap occur at both country and regional level.
The data collection carried out through AQUAMED represents only a first starting point of the inventory process of research facilities and does not provide a comprehensive overview of all infrastructures and services available across the Mediterranean countries. In order to limit the overlaps in research capacity, the inventory of national infrastructures dedicated to aquaculture research, including information on the main characteristics of these facilities (location, culture systems, environment, species, technical characteristics) and services, should be developed at country level and information integrated at regional level. This would facilitate the identification of existing key research infrastructures, promote and coordinate their use and development, avoiding duplications and overlaps in research activities, promote collaboration and human/resources exchange among countries (shared methodology, new tools, multi-site experiments at different scales), facilitate the access to these facilities, facilitate the transfer of knowledge through training activities for young research scientists and for dissemination and facilitate the identification of key research infrastructures in strategic aquaculture research fields.
The FP7-project AQUAEXCEL created an online inventory of European facilities dedicated to aquaculture research infrastructures (available facilities, analytical laboratories and biological resources). The system developed in AQUAEXCEL by AquaTT and Ifremer is easy to use and allows the integration of information on available research facilities, including some of the Mediterranean countries. At the CAQ / GFCM level, a similar web information system can be developed within SIPAM to store information on aquaculture research institutions and infrastructures delivered by the national country representatives.
Investment in facilities and knowledge sharing are top priorities in the new European ERA vision and are believed to be strategic also for aquaculture development at the regional level.
Actions should be taken in order to complete the inventory of facilities across countries and to identify key facilities in different fields of aquaculture research at regional level, avoiding duplication and overlap in aquaculture research at national and regional levels. The complete analysis on the main lacks and overlaps is provided in deliverable 10.
3.4 Main constraints and research needs
3.4.1 Method to identify the research needs
Bringing together stakeholders during the project platform meetings to develop and implement research priorities is a way to ensure that future research funding is strategic, coordinated and orientated towards the key challenges of the production sector whilst respecting the principles of sustainability.
The identification of the key challenges comes from an extensive analysis of the main constraints to the aquaculture development and research activities that should be implemented at the regional level. The study was based on the results of two on-line Delphi consultations with the involvement of 116 aquaculture stakeholders among the 300 experts that were contacted. The consultation process was aimed at obtaining information and consensus on future trends of Mediterranean aquaculture by 2030, identifying knowledge gaps and constraints and at prioritizing the research needs.
The session on research needs was prepared according to the structure of the eight Thematic Research Areas (Goals and Subgoals) developed by EATiP and was adjusted following the comments and suggestions of the Mediterranean stakeholders during the first the Delphi survey (first open Multi-stakeholder Platform meeting). Participants were asked to rank the importance of the 31 key goals and 77 key sub-goals related to 8 Thematic Research Areas.
The consultation and the analysis of responses was carried out both at the Mediterranean regional level and at each country level and for the three main aquaculture sectors: freshwater and seawater fish culture and shellfish culture. This is an important issue because most constraints and research needs are characteristic for the three sub-sectors and need to be addressed at a sub-sector level.
Projections from the stakeholders on future trends in Mediterranean aquaculture indicated that a smart and sustainable growth at a rate of 1 to 4% is likely to be achieved in the next 20 years. Almost 30% of stakeholders anticipated a growth > 5%, with the highest expectation of growth by Industry and NGOs stakeholders. Mediterranean aquaculture will diversify by a slight increase of the number of farmed species. The main species will remain the same, with sea bass and gilthead sea bream dominating the Mediterranean aquaculture in both northern and southern countries. Most of the stakeholders think that intensive in shore cage and flow through land based tank finfish farms will be partly replaced by offshore farming system. The highest rate of development is expected for two most ecologically sustainable farming systems: integrated multitrophic aquaculture and recirculation systems. There is a growing interest for conservative aquaculture and restocking activities, that are not really developed at regional level until now.
3.4.2 Main constraints
The prioritization process identified the 15 most important constraints to the sustainable development of aquaculture, the 15 most important objectives (goals) and key research activities (sub-goals), with a high consensus: 70-75% of the participants.
The most important category of constraints to the aquaculture development is related to governance in aquaculture (7 out of the 15 top constraints). There is a need for “simplification of bureaucratic procedures in obtaining licenses”. This should translate into improvement and simplification of the administrative processes through a reorganization of the aquaculture administration, avoiding the overlap of too many legislations and competent authorities. This constraint is equally important for northern (Top-2) and southern countries (Top-4) and it is considered as the Top-1 constraint for shellfish culture. Interestingly it was ranked as the most important by stakeholders from the research and industry sectors and as the second one by stakeholders from NGOs.
Administrative inefficiency in licensing results also from the lack of national policies in spatial planning, which is the second most important constraint for Mediterranean aquaculture. Lack of spatial planning is very important for the freshwater and shellfish sectors (Top-2) and slightly less important for seawater fish culture (Top-5). It is more hindering the development of aquaculture in northern countries (Top-3) than in southern countries (Top-6).
The insufficient awareness of importance of aquaculture at decision making level and the insufficient political commitment to aquaculture development are recognized as two key constraints, mainly in northern countries. Taking into account the differences among countries, it seems that the role of aquaculture is better recognised in north African countries than in European countries.
The availability of national aquaculture statistics and efficient information system to exchange knowledge are considered as important by all category of stakeholders, since both can play an important role in facilitating coordination and participation in common initiatives at the regional level.
Weak policies on market is considered a very important constraint at regional level (Top-4).
It is mainly related to the lack of national (and regional) observatories of the dynamics of the Mediterranean aquaculture market, to a very scarce knowledge about the consumer perceptions and preferences, and to the lack of harmonized policies for market and trade at the regional level. The lack of self-regulatory initiatives between producers, retailers, consumers association, that could contribute to increase the competitiveness and sustainability of the aquaculture sector is perceived as a key constraints at Mediterranean level (Top-12), but surprisingly not by the industry stakeholders.
The negative perception of aquaculture is ranked as a major threat to the future development of the activity (Top 7). The lack of media campaign on aquaculture-related benefits is particularly important for the freshwater fish sector (Top-3) and for the marine fish sector (Top-7), mainly because of misinformation on potential negative externalities of intensive aquaculture.
The limited entrepreneurial skill in aquaculture farming (Top-3) and in developing programs and business plan (Top-7) are perceived as key constraints in the south Mediterranean countries. Both are linked to the lack of research/extension services in most of the southern Mediterranean countries (Top-9).
Feed cost was ranked as the first constraints (Top-1) for both the freshwater and seawater fish farming sectors in the whole region.
3.4.3 Research needs
The main key goals, that were identified by the stakeholders to overcome the constraints are listed below.
The most important for Mediterranean aquaculture is the efficient utilization of research outputs and knowledge transfer. The knowledge management is ranked at the first position for the marine fish and shellfish production sectors and at the third position for the freshwater production sector. It is the first priority for research, industry and the NGO stakeholders.
Good governance in aquaculture and planning came out as a key issue for both southern and northern Mediterranean countries, for all the aquaculture sub-sectors and all the categories of stakeholders. Four goals related to Socio Economics & Governance and the development of national policy for aquaculture are ranked at the Top-2 position.
Two highly ranked key goals were related to the quality of products, the consumer perception and the safety of aquaculture products, more important in northern that in southern countries.
The aquatic animal health and welfare received a great attention and two goals of this research area were selected: Future research should aim at developing diagnostic tools to prevent and control pathologies of aquaculture species (Top-11) and to get a better understanding of the interactions between host and pathogens (Top-10).
One goal concerning the relation of aquaculture with the environment was ranked among the Top-15 priorities: The reduction of the impact of the aquaculture activity on the environment is an important aspect to take into consideration to elaborate research projects.
Surprisingly, only 1 key goal related to the problem of sustainable feed production was ranked among the Top-15 priorities. It is linked to the quality and safety of aquaculture products.
However, when the analysis consider the three aquaculture sub-sectors separately, the freshwater and marine fish sector recognized that “Technologies and system to reduce feed cost” have to be developed and are considered as one of the Top-goals.
3.4.4 First elaboration of a Plan of action
The results of the on line consultation were used to elaborate a first tentative AQUAMED Plan of Action. It is based on the 8 Top constraints prioritized by stakeholders and the related goals (18) and sub-goals (24) identified for the freshwater and marine fish aquaculture, and the shellfish aquaculture sectors. Eight working groups of stakeholders were established
during the last multi-stakeholder meeting. Each group had to work on the identification of the main activities that could contribute to overcome the constraints. The end product was to be an operational plan of action (see http://www.AQUAMEDproject.net/). The 8 working groups are the following: WG 1 - Simplify Administrative Procedure for Licensing, WG 2 - Spatial Planning for Aquaculture Development, WG 3 - Policy for Market and Consumers, WG 4 - Sustainable Feed, WG 5 - Environment and Food Safety, WG 6 - Knowledge Management and Transfer, WG 7 - Disease Management in Aquaculture and WG 8 - Environmental Management and Governance.
The recommended topics listed in the recommendations session of the multi-stakeholder platform should be considered for the development of the AQUAMED Research Agenda for Mediterranean aquaculture and could serve to facilitate the debate among stakeholders.
The Top-five research activities recommended for the AQUAMED Research Agenda are (1) to improve the transfer of research outputs to the industry: “Set up a group of economic interest involving Industry, Research, Policy Makers “, (2) “Find new alternative sources of material to replace fish meal and fish oil in aqua feed composition” in order to define the technologies and systems that could contribute to reduce the feed cost, (3) to improve communication and marketing strategies in order to improve the consumer perception and increase the consumption of aquaculture products: define “Market Intelligence” strategies, (4) “Collect laws and procedures in order to harmonize them and elaborate guides to administrative processes” in order to support to the simplification of administrative process (time, costs, burden) for licensing and (5) to contribute to support the territorial planning and to the identify allocated zones for aquaculture: “Identification of criteria for site selection and monitoring in aquaculture” is necessary.The time necessary to implement the research priorities (short term: 1-3 years, medium term: 4-7 years or long term: >7 years) was estimated and first evaluation of budget was also presented. All the detailed information is available in deliverable 11 and in the proceedings of the multi-stakeholder meetings.
The AQUAMED Agenda proposed in this study has some similarities with the strategic position paper “the Science in support of the European fisheries and aquaculture policy”prepared by EFARO and with the SRIA developed by EATiP for the Mediterranean aquaculture. The AQUAMED Agenda includes also priority areas recommended in the “Strategic Guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture” communicated by the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European economic and social Committee and the Committee of the regions (COM 2013/229). It is strategic that the research priorities, validated in the AQUAMED project using a participatory approach, are integrated within the other relevant Agendas, in order to ensure that future research funds are orientated towards the most important challenges identified for Mediterranean aquaculture.
4. The multi-stakeholder platform
The multi-stakeholder platform was set up all along the project. There was a first trial of platform meeting during an EAS meeting in Rodos, in order to benefit of stakeholder participants without expenses for the project. It was the opportunity to assess the possible methods to be used during the two next full platform meetings.
4.1 Structure of the platform during the AQUAMED project Within the AQUAMED work-frame, nine work-packages where defined, including multistakeholder consultation (WP3) and setting up and sustaining of the platform (WP9). All along the platform set-up, WP3 provided strong and essential support to identify the content and to the administration and organization for establishing the platform. Together with WP9 they kept a tight contact with the AQUAMED partners and other stakeholders, creating all together the structure of the platform.
The organization, consultation and decision making process was performed by a core group that included mainly the WG leaders of WP1, WP3, WP6, WP7 and WP9. This core group of 6-7 people conducted intensive meetings using mainly skype (in some cases on a weekly basis) and some face to face meetings before, during and after the platform meetings at a frequency of about 2-3 times a year.
The AQUAMED team was composed of partners from 13 countries, each being a National Contact Point of these countries and members from other (non MED) countries and international organizations, creating a group of around 20 people. All major decisions related to the multi-stakeholder platform and all important progress towards the establishment and operation of the multi-stakeholder platform were brought to agreement of the AQUAMED members. The National Contact Point (NCP) were also playing a role being the direct contact to the stake holders and to information source in their own country. The AQUAMED member group meet at a frequency of about once a year (and in some case 2 times a year). In the case of AQUAMED, the composition of the group was mainly from the research sector, with smaller number of members from the policy making, industry and NGOs sectors.
The platform is one of the few forums where stakeholders can meet and discuss. The stakeholders are selected by the NCP of their country as key persons of the different four sectors: industry (producers), policy making (governments), researchers and NGOs. During the meeting preparation, it was always looked for a balanced representation of all countries and of all sectors. The communication to the stakeholders was done through the core group, mainly by WP3 and by the NCPs or the project coordinator. The number of stakeholders ranged between 50 to 70, including the AQUAMED partners. During the AQUAMED project two platform meetings were conducted. In these meetings, research priorities were discussed and action plan was proposed.
4.2 Initial proposed structure of the platform
A proposed structure is described in the Terms of references (TOR) of the multi-stakeholder (deliverable 12). This structure includes:
- The stakeholder Assembly composed by stakeholders from all member countries and from the four main sectors: Industry, Research, Policy makers, and NGOs. It will be responsible for nominating a Board of coordinators and approval of the operational (including administrative) actions of the platform, under the GFCM,
- The board of coordinators composed of representatives of each country. It will take the role of being the national contact point (NCP). The Board of coordinators will propose the Chairpersons/facilitators of the Thematic Areas and Working Groups of the multistakeholders, presenting these nominations for approval by the Assembly,
- The operating Council which will manage and operate the platform. The Council is proposed to be composed of 6-8 persons (50:50 Industry and Research, 50:50 North Africa and Europe), keeping a balance between the interests different of the stakeholders of the aquaculture sector in Mediterranean.
- The Secretariat which will be to provide administrative and organizational support including meeting organization and communication activities. This role is to be played by GFCM.
4.3 The GFCM context and other continuation opportunities In June 2013, the GFCM has adopted the AQUAMED multi-stakeholder platform as a subsidiary body of the CAQ-GFCM. Consequently, the proposed structure will be evaluated and adapted in order to fit into the GFCM organisational and management procedures. A first CAQ-GFCM meeting was already hold at the end of June to initiate exchanges between CAQ-GFCM and the AQUAMED partners on the outputs of the AQUAMED platform and on the structure and operation of the platform under the aegis of CAQ-GFCM. A second meeting is scheduled before the end of 2013. However, few aspects should be pointed out concerning the platform future structure, considering the shift of the multi-stakeholder platform to the GFCM after the end of the AQUAMED project:
The participating members (or related representatives) of the Committee of Aquaculture (CAQ) might be considered as representing the policy making sector of each country during the platform meetings. Since the GFCM includes the countries of the Black Sea region, the platform will probably need to consider adding countries that are not directly Mediterranean countries. That may imply conducting similar or at least a brief process of evaluation and assessment of research priorities for that region. Alternatively, an exclusively Mediterranean platform can start to operate as such before establishment of a Black Sea or a combined platform.
As the general assembly of the CAQ is taking place once every two years, it is suggested that the platform general assembly follows this frequency. However, the Board of Coordinators should probably have an annual meeting while a core group or operating council should have a more frequent activity. The role of the platform under the CAQ-GFCM umbrella could be:
- To advise the GFCM, EU and National policies on research priorities and recommendations for the region.
- To assist in updating the databases (Research institutes, Research projects, SH)
- To support activities on specific R&D innovative opportunities – identifying topics for regional research collaboration and promoting international collaborative activities.
- To promote workshops and conferences on aquaculture sustainable development in order to ease technology transfer activities.
A list of other funding opportunities and a five year plan for follow-up meetings are provided in deliverables 17 and 18. Discussions are still ongoing with EATiP in order to identify whether and how the AQUAMED / CAQ-GFCM platform could, in parallel, act as a specific Mediterranean platform of EATiP, which is now recognized as an EU platform.
5. Sustainability assessment
Generally it is accepted that sustainability requires an understanding of issues concerning natural resources, governmental and economic output and society welfare, and the exchanges between them. Sustainable aquaculture adopts productive, competitive and efficient production practices, while protecting the environment and the global ecosystem, as well asthe socio-economic conditions of local communities, in line with the principles related to human dignity. An important practical view to emerge is that indicators, providing various measured values describing characteristics of a specific activity, may be an effective means of describing paths of development. This way, policy approaches and directions for development could be built up “from the ground” using a suitably validated system of indicators. The indicators should be multidisciplinary and wide-reaching, covering ecosystem and biophysical, social and economic, as well as legal and institutional aspects of aquaculture.
Effective indicators have some characteristics in common: they are relevant, easy to understand, reliable, and based on accessible data.
5.1 Sustainability indicators for the Mediterranean
The first step of this WP was to make a complete review of existing sustainability indicators in the literature and carry out a selection of the most relevant to assess (1) the global sector and (2) the research sector.
5.11 Indicators of sector sustainability
Sets of indicators of aquaculture sustainability were already identified through the following research projects:
CONSENSUS (A Multi-Stakeholder Platform for Sustainable Aquaculture in Europe) had the strategic objective to provide and demonstrate to consumers the benefits of high quality, safe and nutritious farmed fish and shellfish grown in sustainable conditions. Plenary sessions and working groups were organized to provided key information in order to identify indicators classified under economic, environmental and social sustainability and made suggestions on their use.
EVAD (Assessment of the sustainability of the aquaculture production systems.
Elaboration of a method and implementation in different contexts of tropical and temperate areas.). This project within the framework of the Agriculture and Sustainable Development federating program of the National Agency for Research (2005-2008) published a practical guide book including a list of principles, criteria and sustainable development indicators in aquaculture validated through a co-construction process InDAM (Indicators for Sustainable Development of Aquaculture and Guidelines for their use in the Mediterranean) is a project of GFSM-CAQ WGSA specifically focused on Mediterranean finfish species, with the aim of developing practical indicators and relative reference points and standards for direct and concrete use by the various stakeholders within a shared definition and framework of the sustainable development of Mediterranean aquaculture. To reach such objective, InDAM used the participatory methodology suggested by EVAD. The project identified indicators in governance, economy, social and environmental dimensions.
MediterraneOn is a project developed by Spanish Aquaculture Observatory Foundation (FOESA), defining sustainability indicators to enable an analysis of the state of aquaculture in the Spanish regions, with the aim of moving the various countries that make up the region towards an even more sustainable aquaculture development. This tool aims to be of used by all the stakeholders involved in the sector; administrations, production, scientific communities, non-governmental organizations and other sectors and stakeholders, in order to obtain an initial assessment of Mediterranean aquaculture from a sustainability point of view.
Based on this large number of indicators, that in some cases were tested in the farm and country level, an AQUAMED list of indicators was compiled. It comprised only indicators that (1) were highly acceptable, with a weighed mean score > 66th percentile and (2) are widely used at the Mediterranean level. The list includes the principle, criteria to which indicator belongs, as well as the origin from where they were taken. The final list included 6 indicators (governance), 15 indicators (economy), 14 indicators (societal) and 15 indicators (environment). Together with indicators list, a table identifying the source where the indicators could be found out (at national or regional level), the range of sustainability scoring (1= unsustainable; 2= far from sustainable; 3= approaching sustainable; 4= nearly sustainable; 5= sustainable) and the calculation of the indicator with known reference values was sent to each partner country for assessment and scoring. Based on this partner ranking, a second list of indicators was developed, which included only the indicators that have been chosen by 62.5% of partners.
100% of partners choose the following indicators: number of fish-farmers taking part in consultative bodies; existence of a public plan to support aquaculture development; investment in R&D&I in aquaculture, and existence of a well-defined environmental policy, program and/or strategy for aquaculture.
87.5% of partners choose: existence of ICZM plan for coastal areas, including aquaculture under head state authority, taking account future evolution of industry; number of workers (direct and indirect); existence of bodies in support to aquaculture training; annual production, and existence of national aquaculture strategy.
75% of partners have chosen: existence of extension and dissemination services; feed cost/kg fish produced (and % of total cost/kg); number and quality of jobs; water depth below the cages (m); feed conversion ratio (kg/kg), and existence of common site selection criteria.
62.5% of partners have choose: change in total aquaculture production value; legal security of tenure; existence of market tools; prices, range of products, consumption; composition of the workforce (age, education and gender); education/training, and existence of native and lowtrophic- level species.
The rest of indicators that have been chosen by less of 62.5% of partners were not included in further analyses. The exercise included also the scoring for 5 indicators chosen in each of the 4 dimensions and the visualization of scores by kite diagrams for each country.
Based on the partner comments, the final list of ranked indicators was sent to all partners for evaluation and the validated indicators were used as a base to develop a software.
5.1.2 Indicators of sustainability for aquaculture research
Very few studies presented the development of indicators used to evaluate the sustainability of a particular research activity. If any, they are hardly applied to aquaculture research. The reasons recognized as bottlenecks in developing research sustainability indicators are that (1) they are hardly measurable because of the difficulty of ascribing to research a direct impact on a complex phenomenon, (2) they are hardly referenced because of the unpredictability of research results and of the length of the research and innovation cycle, and (3) they are not many because there is no linearity of the innovation process. For all of these reasons, the construction of indicators to measure the direct impact of research and development on the 4 dimensions is extremely difficult. An additional difficulty is to produce global indicators to evaluate a program, from the evaluation of several independent and relatively small projects composing it. In order to collect indicators, that may assess the impact on research, the existing sources have been used:
1. InDAM: a small number of indicators are relevant to assess a potential impact on research (7 in total);
2. AQUAMED: from WP4 of the project, gathered data related to the research were reformulated in indicators (5 in total).
3. Vision RD4SD: (VISION Research and Development for Sustainable Development) is a Coordination and support action project supported by the EU 7th Framework Program (http://www.visionrd4sd.eu). It aims to ensure that Europe is able to contribute to a sustainable development of the world, by formulating policies and decisions based on robust, up-to-date knowledge. This had to be done by developing a shared vision between science funding bodies and national science policy institutions in the European Member States on how best to harness research and development for sustainable development. Indicators from this project do not follow the principle-criteria-indicator system and are global for research in general. The project however recommends the study of the process rather than the measurement of the impact.
The list of the selected indicators was evaluated among the project partners but the approach was not satisfying and was therefore decided to create a specific set of indicators on research sustainability, using directly the results obtained in the WPs of AQUAMED.
WP6 was aimed at performing data analysis and identification of several types of situations to which countries with similar constraints are confronted. One aspect is the research capacity at the country and regional levels. From this approach, two deliverables that had the potential to offer adequate research indicators were: the common database construction characterizing the aquaculture systems and research means, elaborated through the country level inventories and the key variables identification and country typology. A total of 32 indicators were extrapolated from WP6.
WP7 was aimed at identifying the research needs and formulating recommendations in order to improve the efficiency of the research sector at the group of countries and Mediterranean levels. 10 top goals and 10 top sub goals were generated and used as bases for the development of research indicators. From one of its deliverables: collective synthesis of research needs necessary to overcome the constraints identified per group of countries and at Mediterranean regional level, principles-criteria-indicators were extrapolated.
The 2 lists composed of 32 indicator generated from WP6 and 52 from WP7 were distributed to all partner for evaluation and ranking. The same approach of indicators selection as for aquaculture sustainability was then used: after analyzing the frequency at which each partner has chosen a set of 5 indicators in 4 dimensions for the sustainability of the research, indicators that were chosen with less than 62.5% of partner were discarded. 100% partners have chosen the following indicators:
Percentage of policies existing for national aquaculture in relation to the whole agriculture sector, percentage of projects involving aquaculture science, social science and other coastal users in relation to total number of aquaculture-related research, percentage of projects aiming aquaculture impact on the environment including different stakeholders in relation to total number of aquaculture-related research, number of projects assessing integration of aquaculture activities and aquaculture management policies at national level in 5-years period, number of projects assessing nutritive aspects of aquaculture products in 5-years period, number of organized training courses or workshops on aquaculture sustainability in 5-years period, number of projects aiming at the safety recommendations for aquaculture products at national level and number of projects aiming the safety of aquaculture products in 5 years.
5.2 Tool for monitoring the sustainability of aquaculture and research in aquaculture The final list of aquaculture and research sustainability in the Mediterranean comprised 20 indicators. The last step of this WP was to wrap-up the selected indicators into a tool (software) that will enable assessment of sustainability at the national and at a regional levels.
The tool has to enable identification of strengths and weaknesses in respect to sustainability, providing its items of evidence to the different stakeholders on one hand and the identification of putative intervention points for improvement, on the other. It also visualizes trends and developments over time, aiming to discern the pitfalls and bottlenecks at the appropriate moment, giving enough time for improvement. This tool is of key importance as it represents the basis for continuing the work and exchanges after the end of the project, through the feedback from the Stakeholder platform.
The software developed is named AMI (Aquaculture Mediterranean Indicators) and comprises a small introduction of the AQUAMED project (aims and scopes) and the short explanation on how it is used for aquaculture and research indicators. When starting the analysis, the user (stakeholder) selects first its category (research, industry, policy body, NGO, other), its country of origin and the type of sustainability indicators that has to be calculated (aquaculture or research). Then, the user scores one by one each of five indicators in 4 dimensions, helped by short explanations on how the specific indicator can be calculated and the indicator score (from 0 to 5). Since all research sustainability indicators have been developed from AQUAMED, their reference values can be found in the AQUAMED database of research capacities. After scoring all 20 indicators in specific area, AMI generates kite diagrams for 4 dimensions and the final kite diagram comprising all indicator scores. Also a visualization using "traffic lights" has been added. AMI output can be saved in pdf and printed out for filing over time. In addition for visualization of sustainability, AMI provides a very robust "diagnosis" of specific scored situations that serve as a bases for work on the improvement of the system. The AMI software can be freely downloaded directly from http://byte-lab.com/download/ami/publish.htm or from the AQUAMED website.
AMI is available to the AQUAMED partners and the stakeholders for validation. The feedbacks AMI have been secured in a way that, after finishing the analysis, a pop-up box emerges with the field where the user needs to comment any aspect of the tool. The comment is automatically sent to defined e-mail address (feedback@AQUAMEDproject.net) where it is stored for further analysis. Feedback data from the stakeholders and national parties, will be collected after they have been uploaded through the project web site that will continue to be active 5 years after the end of the project. A detailed information on the software and indicators is available in deliverable 13.
6. Methodology
The need for a specific work package dedicated at defining the most efficient methods to reach the goals of the project proved right. WP2 contributed to the project work for mapping and collecting the relevant data at country level (support to WP4), to establish the methodological lay out of a database for the collected information (support to WP5), to define an efficient method for typology (support to WP6). More generally this work package had an efficient contribution to help reaching a common understanding among project partners with very different cultural backgrounds. The detailed activities carried out in WP2 until now can be found in deliverables 2 and 6.
To achieve the goals of the project, a proper organization and communication at different levels was required. It was not possible to specifically dictate methods of communication for the project, because not all partners have the ability to communicate in one given way.
Instead, a reference to different tools was given for further instruction and utilization.
6.1 Method for common understanding
The AQUAMED project was dependent of good understanding of the definition of the term stakeholder. Within the project the need for a proper definition was important, because of the different nature of the partners performing the key tasks. All partners have different geographical and cultural back grounds, different institutional, sectorial and social organisations. These differences result in a diversity of interpretation. Therefore, the most accountable and influential stakeholders in one country may not be the same as in the other.
The difference between stakeholders suggested that adequate references to each stakeholder type was needed and standardised through the project. Within AQUAMED the following definition of a stakeholder was adopted as a reference: “Any organisational structure or company that has a direct or indirect influence to the development of aquaculture in the Mediterranean.”
6.2 Method for multi-stakeholder events
The ambition of the AQUAMED project was to achieve a multi-stakeholder approach, with mutual understanding among stakeholders and with a wide range of stakeholders, including industrial or governance stakeholders, but also stakeholders from environmental and social dimensions. The combination of the use of knowledge, ambition, and challenges of the stakeholders gave a multilevel and multidisciplinary approach and should therefore be included in the AQUAMED stakeholder process.
Therefore the following stakeholder categories were suggested as important: Producers organisations; Retailer organisations; Fisheries organisations; Feed producer organisations; NGOs; Governmental organisation (regional, national and local); Consumer Association; Research and others (banks etc.).
The broad nature of the AQUAMED project in terms of geographical distribution, forces the project to be more precise on the requested nature of the stakeholders to be utilised in the country framework. To further downsize the selection of appropriate stakeholders, we needed to apply more specific criteria. Therefore in a dedicated discussion by AQUAMED work package leaders, the group adopted the following criteria / reference points: Representation size and action level of operation may vary per country; Consider inventorying minimum of 2 (max. 10) stakeholders per category; If no stakeholder for a specific category, a representative replacement from another category should be found; If no national stakeholder is present select for the most important local ones. These reference points are used in the stakeholder selection by the National Contact points, and for communication throughout the project.
Within the project frame work multiple levels of communication need to be adapted in order to provide the best tools for an efficient overall communication. The project outline and the performance of tasks is based on a sequential approach, in which the successive work packages highly depend on the input of the previous one. The work packages have also a strict task on intervention with stakeholders, which may deal with similar stakeholders in different work packages and context. Therefore, proper communication, avoidance of duplication and adequate provision of information are key values.
The identified communication levels were (1) with academic institutions (database compilation), (2) between Work Packages (for project work flow purposes), (3) with national stakeholders (subjective data on country level) and (4) in the Multi-stakeholder platforms.
The process of the AQUAMED project is complicated because of the regional distribution (North and South Mediterranean), the multi-lingual orientation and the distant interaction with and of the required input of many different stakeholders. In order to actively connect the stakeholders to the living nature and ambitions of the project, an adequate communication through sharing information was set up. This was done by informing stakeholders on the impact of their input, as well as on the progress made using their data. This allowed to demonstrate the project progress and the stakeholders to understand and appreciate the ambitions of the project. This enabled connection of the stakeholders with the AQUAMED project, the Multi stakeholder platform and to their National contact point.
6.3 Method for complementary data collection
Because of some inconsistencies of the data sets, which were set up throughout the AQUAMED project, it was decided to add an additional stakeholder interaction moment, in order to obtain more information regarding the needs for and bottlenecks to the development of aquaculture in the future. A better connection, and utilization of the work done in the participatory trials: AquaInnova and EaTip was also needed. Therefore an additional step for stakeholder communication and data collection was implemented. The decision on the need of these additional data enquiries was decided by the national contact points and the method support group in plenary session.
To achieve this additional data collection on the bottlenecks and needs for the future development of aquaculture, it was decided to use a Delphi approach during the last phase of the project . The Delphi method was developed based on a questionnaire, on future scenarios and on the relevance and applicability to the Mediterranean context of the thematic areas usedby EaTip. The adaptation of this “common” language throughout the aquaculture and associated communities allowed common understanding and mind set on the process towards a common aquaculture research agenda. However, it was necessary to include the EaTip thematic areas and embrace the EaTip philosophy and nomenclature. In the AQUAMED project two separate decisions were made by the Method Support Group on the implementation of the Delphi method. The need for a first Delphi Session was discussed in Paris (May 2013). It was decided to implement Delphi as a preparation for the first Multi Stakeholder Platform, enabling the experts and stakeholders to express their opinion prior to the first meeting. This eventually was not possible due to time limitations and the Delphi was incorporated as a communication and interactive tool in the platform meeting.
Following the discussion on the feedback as a result of the first data analyses stage, it became clear that the lack of a sufficient number of different stakeholders from different categories with a broad geographic spread could be problematic. This urged the AQUAMED project to redevelop the approach and to direct the stakeholder discussion to a broader number of participants by using the CAC-GFCM network, which enables connection to a broad and geographical well represented network of stakeholders. This allowed the second step in the Delphi method to be applied to a broader audience, which was be done in January 2013.
6.4 Method for communication with institutions
In WP4 the project made an inventory of all existing research teams, tools, projects and networks in order to carry out a first analysis of the lacks and overlapping at the country level.
It consisted of the inventory and description of the main stakeholders and of all existing research infrastructures, networks, capacity building opportunities, research strategies, funds and criteria related to aquaculture (i.e. from biology to marketing) and sustainability at the national level. The communication was carried out by the AQUAMED national contact persons and some key partners in the country, and it was performed (as described in deliverable 2) on the basis of web surveys.
The academic stakeholders which were involved in the data input were selected by the national contact persons. The names of the institutions and contacts are recorded in a database. Following this inventory the stakeholders were asked to fill out the web survey on existing institutions. A great task for the non-project based partners. The tasks within the AQUAMED project (after data collection) were mainly based on non academic stakeholder interactions. These are per definition not the same stakeholders as the ones who provided the data in the first part of the project. Therefore there is a need for information provision from the site of AQUAMED to the academic stakeholders. The academic partners had to be informed on the results, amount, geographical spread, and types of data which have been generated in the project. This communication was done by fact sheets, newsletters, letters, dependent of the choice of the project management. WP3 did communicate on this matter in association with the other work package leaders.
6.5 Method for communication with national stakeholders
For communication with national stakeholders the project covered 2 approaches. The first was to collect subjective data of the country, in order to be able to analyse and categorize the country based on their characteristics. These data were requested from local stakeholders, which were first inventoried by the AQUAMED national contact persons. The second approach was to communicate with the stakeholders on a national level about the project. As mentioned earlier, the communication method cannot be dictated by the project, since the
stakeholders have different cultural back grounds, different institutional, sectorial and social organisation. All partners, regions, and WP do not have the ability to communicate in one given way. To bypass this communication difficulties, the project partners were informed on a web based tool, which described multiple stakeholder approaches, and tools to communicate with stakeholders. The tools are to be found on the Multi stakeholder Processes Portal (http://portals.wi.wur.nl).
The stakeholders which were contacted during the data collection process were all approached in a different way. In several countries, the local key point contacted the stakeholders by telephone, mail of in person. In other occasions the partners were contacted by on line requests without any further information. In all cases data were provided by the stakeholders, and an investment (time based) was done for the project. Therefore, these stakeholders had to be updated on the project every time an on-going step was made. The stakeholder were informed by fact sheets, newsletters, letters, dependent of the choice of the project management.
Communication to the stakeholders included the following information: (1) General facts on AQUAMED; (2) General statistics on collected data; (3) Use the data; (4) Description of next steps (incl. Planning of next update) and (5) Indication on the benefits for the stakeholders (information, influence via the project and platform meetings).
During the communication a feedback system was implemented for the stakeholders, in which they could provide information on the expectation from the platform, the benefits which was seen, the ambitions the stakeholder had in the platform meetings. The communication followed the communication methods chosen by the project consortium in consensus.
7. Stakeholder database and dissemination
7.1 Stakeholder database
There was needs for effective interaction between the 16 partners of the AQUAMED consortium and its different stakeholders. The AQUAMED Stakeholder Database was filled in with contact details from relevant stakeholders from the 13 participating countries.
Stakeholders have been organised by their nationality, category (i.e. scientific community, managers, industry, etc.) and the level of engagement with the AQUAMED project. This allowed the partnership to gain easy access to the stakeholder data and to save time in organising the AQUAMED stakeholder records.
7.1.1 Identification and classification of relevant stakeholders
Identification and selection of relevant stakeholders was initially carried out by the AQUAMED National Contact Points based on their own databases and knowledge of the aquaculture sector in their countries. The database has been extended and updated for the duration of the project, with input from all project partners.
The fields of the stakeholder database include the contact details
In the context of this deliverable, stakeholders or target end-users refer to the persons in each organisation that are involved in the aquaculture sector in the 13 partner countries. The stakeholder database provides: organisation, telephone number (when needed) and e-mail address.
To ensure AQUAMED built and maintained the right level of engagement with stakeholders, stakeholders were classified according to their level of involvement in the project.
- Inform: Stakeholders who required a broad level of awareness of the project. They may also have been influential/important conduits of information to other stakeholders.
- Consult: Stakeholders and target end-users who needed to have a good understanding of the project and were invited to provide input in relation to the different surveys.
- Involve: Stakeholders and target end-users who had a high-level of engagement with the project and were involved in the decision-making process.
- Collaborate: Stakeholders and target end-users who were responsible for driving the project, such as partners, associated partners and those participants in the Platform meetings.
Stakeholders in the AQUAMED database are categorised in a dropdown list according to four different types:
- Decision and Policy Makers: At national level in the field of aquaculture.
- Scientific community: scientists that are involved in aquaculture research.
- Aquaculture industry: companies and professional associations. The contact persons in these organisations have been identified and contacted when needed.
- Other stakeholders: Any other stakeholder with an interest in AQUAMED and its outcomes (e.g. NGOs, environmental organisations and groups, etc).
7.1.2 Management of the AQUAMED Stakeholder Database
Identification and selection of relevant stakeholders was initially carried out by the AQUAMED National Contact Points based on their own databases and knowledge of the aquaculture sector in their countries. The database has been extended and updated for the duration of the project, with input from all project partners.
The Stakeholder Database was, and still is, hosted on AquaTT’s server and it has been confidentially sent to the partners when requested. The partners were also able to:
- Update the database at any time, by sending a stakeholder's details to WP3 leader, who was the data controller of the AQUAMED stakeholder database;
- Send their own stakeholder databases to the WP3 leader who updated the master database.
As stated in Deliverable 16, several meetings have been carried out with one of the observers of the AQUAMED project, the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean – Committee on Aquaculture (GFCM-CAQ), to assess the opportunity to sustain the AQUAMED platform. The platform was recognised as a subsidiary body of the GFCM during its 37th session.

All results obtained within the AQUAMED project, including the database, will be shared with this institution, which will use the results to adapt the platform to their requirements. The policy access to the data, that are currently confidential for the AQUAMED consortium, will be defined by this organisation, following the EU regulations on this subject.

7.1.3 Access policy for the AQUAMED Stakeholder Database The AQUAMED database was internal to the project and accessible to all project partners. It was opened to the public. However, as it contains personal data which shall not be disclosed to the public, only aggregated information without any personal data could potentially be published. Where data concerns personal data of individuals, these were only collected and processed where the individual concerned has unambiguously given his or her consent, after being adequately informed (Article 7 of the Data Protection Directive). Protection of personal data has been guided by the European rules and regulations (http://ec.europa.eu/justice/dataprotection/law/index_en.htm)

7.2 Dissemination activities
The dissemination activities and project meetings, that have been carried out within the AQUAMED project are the following: Promotional material, press releases and web dissemination actions, presentations at aquaculture events, Multi-Stakeholder Platform meetings (organisation of the AQUAMED Multi-Stakeholders Platform meetings and all the promotional material created for those events), AQUAMED Partners Meetings (these meetings were of vital importance for raising awareness of the project and conveying the main results to the observers of the AQUAMED project). The meetings also enabled these observers to provide feedback.
The promotional material developed for AQUAMED includes the project website, the fact sheet; the logo, a Power Point Template, a general presentation on AQUAMED, a technical leaflet of the project; a video introducing the first results obtained within the project, a booklet with an aquaculture country profile for each Mediterranean participating country and a booklet developed for the 2nd MSHP Meeting, which contained the background information about the project.
To avoid the language barriers, the fact sheet is available in the partner languages on http://www.aquamedproject.net/index.php/media‐centre/promotional‐material/ A public project website and a separate intranet for the project consortium (Sharepoint software), were created within the first month of the project. All the partners have access to the AQUAMED path where the project work documents are available. The public website (www.aquamedproject.net) was designed following the EU Project Websites – Best Practice Guidelines (March 2010). It is visually attractive and informative. Since its launch in September 2010, it has been visited by 2,854 individual users and received 4,013 visits (as of 04/07/2013), which indicates that the percentage of returning visitors is 28.4% versus 71.6% of new visitors. A demographic analysis of the visitors to the website indicates that the majority of those consulting the AQUAMED website came from Mediterranean countries, which are the targeted countries of the project. Based on the AQUAMED branding, a Power Point template was created and used to present the project results at external or internal events.
The AQUAMED General Presentation was developed after the first half of the project. Its aim was to give the partners a template with general information about the project, its objectives and its results, so that they could adapt it to present the project in different events. This presentation can be downloaded here.
Within the context of the FP7-funded AQUAINNOVA project (“Supporting governance and multi-stakeholder participation in aquaculture research and innovation"), AquaTT, was asked to develop the technical leaflet for AQUAMED following the template provided by the AQUAINNOVA project coordinator. The leaflet is available in the following link:
http://www.eatip.eu/default.asp?SHORTCUT=502
The AQUAMED video was developed to visually present the results coming out from the data collection. It was created for the 1st MSHP Meeting in November 2012 and was further updated in April 2013, based on feedback provided by the stakeholders. The video can be watched here.
In support of the creation of a multi-stakeholder platform (MSHP), the AQUAMED partnership carried out a mapping exercise at a country level in order to gain a better understanding of the profile of each country with regards to research capacity, research projects, type of production, and governance/socio-economic characteristics. The booklet contains a draft extract of the results of the data collection per country. It is not a final product, rather a work in progress and is only intended to demonstrate the benefits of carrying out an ongoing mapping process to support any future MSHP in the Mediterranean. The full document can be downloaded here.
For the 2nd AQUAMED MSHP Meeting a background information booklet was developed and sent to the stakeholders. The aim of this document was to provide the stakeholders with all the necessary information prior to the meeting so that they had time to study the project results before the event. This document can be downloaded here.

7.3 AQUAMED Multi-Stakeholder Platform meetings
The information related to the organisation of the preliminary, first and second AQUAMED Multi-Stakeholders Platform meetings and all the promotional material specifically designed for these events are the following:
- Taking advantage of attendance of relevant Mediterranean stakeholders to the EAS Conference “Mediterranean Aquaculture 2020”, a preliminary meeting of the Mediterranean Aquaculture Multi-Stakeholder Platform was held on the 19th of October 2011. All feedback provided by the stakeholders during this event was analysed and incorporated in the preparation of the First AQUAMED MSHP Meeting.
- The AQUAMED 1st Open Multi-Stakeholder Meeting took place in Rome on the 20th and 21st of November 2012. The aim of the meeting was to identify the research priorities in the Mediterranean aquaculture sector and to explore the potential benefits of setting up a Mediterranean Stakeholders Platform. Several presentations and a video were shown during the first session: (1) Working Document: a compilation of the preliminary results of the AQUAMED data collection. The full document can be downloaded here; (2) a video introducing AQUAMED. The video can be watched here; (3) presentations on ‐ Concept of a Mediterranean Multi-Stakeholder Platform for Aquaculture. This presentation can be downloaded here, ‐ Political and Socio-Economic Characteristics of the Region. This presentation can be downloaded here, ‐ Mediterranean Multi-Stakeholder Platform for Aquaculture Research. This presentation can be downloaded here.
The full event report and the summary report of the meeting are available to download here.
- The Second AQUAMED Multi-Stakeholder Platform meeting was held in Istanbul on 20-21 May 2013. The stakeholders received the background information so they have time to get through the project results before the event. Based on the information provided, the stakeholders were asked contribute to designing the Plan of Action for Mediterranean aquaculture. The presentations given during the first day are the following: (1) a general presentation of the AQUAMED project (This presentation can be downloaded here) and (2) of the Mediterranean Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSHP) for Aquaculture Research (This presentation can be downloaded here), (3) a summary of the main results of the 1st Open Multi- Stakeholder Meeting (This presentation can be downloaded here), (4) an overview of the Aquaculture Sector and Future Trends in Mediterranean Aquaculture (This presentation can be downloaded here), (5) recommendations for the Plan of Action (This presentation can be downloaded here), (6) the AQUAMED project follow-up and platform continuation (This presentation can be downloaded here) and (7) the potential contribution of AQUAMED and FORCE to future EU initiatives. This presentation can be downloaded here.
The second day was focused on building the Plan of Action for Mediterranean Aquaculture based on the main eight constraints identified and their associated goals and sub-goals. The results of this exercise are available in the meeting report.
The Meeting report is available to download here.

7.4 AQUAMED Partner Meetings
The AQUAMED meetings were of vital importance for raising awareness of the project and conveying the main results to the observers of the AQUAMED project, enabling the observers to provide feedback. These meetings were crucial for disseminating results from the project.
Together with the three events described above, seven partner meetings and a methodology workshop were organised all along the project.

8. Final conclusion
The first step of the project was to draw a complete picture of the research activities, teams and facilities in the field of aquaculture around the Mediterranean, in order to set the foundation of the platform and to understand the fundaments of the existing research structures and activities.
The second step was to define common situations and constraints between Mediterranean countries. Countries confronted to similar driving forces were grouped in order to foster information exchanges and to formulate more focused science-based recommendations.
The third step was to identify the major lacks and overlaps of the research capacities in the Mediterranean and the main constraints hindering the sustainable development of the activity.
The analysis and ranking of the constraints with a large variety of stakeholders allowed to identify the priority research needs, that were translated into a revolving implementation plan based on the identification of operational plans of action during the last meeting of the multistakeholder platform.
The platform was set up in parallel, all along the project and benefited from the synthesis of the research analyses, which allowed to set the right scopes and directions. At the end of the project, the Aquamed platform was adopted as a subsidiary body of the Committee of Aquaculture of the General Fisheries commission for the Mediterranean, which enables to continue its activity on the long term after the end of the project. In parallel, some discussions are going on with the European Aquaculture Technology Platform (EATiP), which is now a recognized EU platform, in order to get the Aquamed platform recognized as the Mediterranean platform of EATiP.

The continuation of the platform activities through the CAQ-GFCM and probably EATiP will contribute to rationalize research programming (identification of efficient research programs avoiding duplication fragmentation and dispersion of research efforts) and to stimulate a long-term cooperation and coordination among policy makers, aquaculture industry and RTD performers in the Mediterranean region.

Potential Impact:
1- Potential impact including wider societal implications The basic overall methodology of the project, which was based on:
- a strong participation of non scientific partners in the project steering committee, during the project meetings, during the consultation processes (data collection and database set-up, Delphy surveys) and during the key open meetings of the multi-stakeholder platform, where the main types of stakeholders were represented (industry, NGO, governance and research), - the co-construction of the multi-stakeholder platform all along the project, for which a balanced representation of the stakeholders was looked for in terms of (1) sector representatives from the industry (producers, retailers, representative organizations), NGOs as IUCN and national organizations, governance (representatives of ministries and local administrations), research at different responsibility levels and different specialities (socialand economic sciences, biology, technology) and (2) nationalities, in order to keep an equilibrated participation of the partner countries from the North and the South of the Mediterranean.
A permanent exchange of information between the project consortium and (1) some key institutions in the field in the Mediterranean region: IUCN (NGO), FEAP (European federation), CGCM-CAQ (Mediterranean information and governance) and (2) some important projects and initiatives related to aquaculture and fisheries in the Mediterranean and in Europe as Indam (Indicators for Sustainable Development of Aquaculture and Guidelines for their use in the Mediterranean) that was carried out in several Mediterranean countries, Shockmed on site selection and carrying capacity in the Mediterranean, Aquaexcel on networking the research activities in aquaculture in Europe, Aquainnova and EATiP on a European multi-stakeholder platform to better link the research needs to the research activities, FORCE on the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture in Egypt, Euroshel…
An active dissemination activity through all the project partners and participants and mainly AquaTT and its broad network.
The dissemination activities comprise promotional material, press releases and web dissemination actions, presentations at aquaculture events, the project website and all the promotional material created for the events including the AQUAMED Partners Meetings. The meetings also enabled the participants to provide feedback, in order to adapt and broaden the diffusion of information.
Since September 2010, the website has been visited by 2,854 individual users and received 4,013 visits (as of 04/07/2013), which indicates that the percentage of returning visitors is 28.4% versus 71.6% of new visitors. A demographic analysis of the visitors to the website indicates that the majority of those consulting the AQUAMED website came from Mediterranean countries, which are the targeted countries of the project.
It has to be noted that the project meetings took place in many different countries (Spain, Morocco, Greece, France, Cyprus, Italy, Turkey) which enabled to ensure a large audience among the Mediterranean countries.
The continuation of the platform operation through the GFCM-CAQ, which is covering all the Mediterranean countries and involves the participation of stakeholders representing all the concerned sectors of the society, and which is able to take measures that are enforced in all the Mediterranean countries will contribute to broaden the Mediterranean public awareness about the project output and recommendations.
Hopefully the EATiP will adopt the GFCM-CAQ platform (former Aquamed platform), which will contribute to broaden the European public awareness about the project outputs and recommendations.
2- Main dissemination activities
The dissemination activities and project meetings that have been carried out within the AQUAMED project have been classified as follows: Promotional material; Press releases and web dissemination actions; Presentations at aquaculture events; Multi-Stakeholder Platform meetings: related to the organisation of the AQUAMED Multi-Stakeholders Platform meetings and all the promotional material created for those events; AQUAMED Partners Meetings: These meetings were of vital importance for raising awareness of the project and conveying the main results to the observers of the AQUAMED project. The meetings also enabled these observers to provide feedback.
The promotional material developed for AQUAMED includes: the project website; the fact sheet; the logo; a Power Point Template; a general presentation on AQUAMED; a technical leaflet of the project; a video introducing the first results obtained within the project; a booklet with an aquaculture country profile for each Mediterranean country participating in AQUAMED; and a booklet developed for the 2nd MSHP Meeting containing the background information about the project.
To avoid the language barriers, the fact sheet is available in the partner languages:
http://www.aquamedproject.net/index.php/media‐centre/promotional‐material/
A public project website and a separate intranet for the project consortium, were created by IMARES within the first month of the project ( Sharepoint software); all the partners have access to the AQUAMED path where the project work documents are available. The public website (www.aquamedproject.net) was designed following the EU Project Websites – Best Practice Guidelines (March 2010). It is visually attractive and informative. Since its launch in September 2010, it has been visited by 2,854 individual users and received 4,013 visits (as of 04/07/2013), which indicates that the percentage of returning visitors is 28.4% versus 71.6% of new visitors. A demographic analysis of the visitors to the website indicates that the majority of those consulting the AQUAMED website came from Mediterranean countries, which are the targeted countries of the project. Based on the AQUAMED branding, a Power Point template was created and used to present the project results at external or internal events. The AQUAMED General Presentation was developed after the first half of the project.
Its aim was to give the partners a template with general information about the project, its objectives and its results, so that they could adapt it to present the project in different events.

This presentation can be downloaded here.
Within the context of the FP7-funded AQUAINNOVA project (“Supporting governance and multi-stakeholder participation in aquaculture research and innovation") which focused on the creation of an international framework that facilitates the development of vision documents and strategic research agendas on the sectoral components of European aquaculture. AquaTT, was asked to develop the technical leaflet for AQUAMED, following the template provided by the AQUAINNOVA project coordinator. The leaflet is available in the following link:
http://www.eatip.eu/default.asp?SHORTCUT=502
The AQUAMED video was developed to visually present the results coming out from the data collection. It was created for the 1st MSHP Meeting in November 2012 and was further updated in April 2013, based on feedback provided by the stakeholders. The video can be watched here.
In support of the creation of a multi-stakeholder platform (MSHP), the AQUAMED partnership carried out a mapping exercise at a country level in order to gain a better understanding of the profile of each country with regards to research capacity, research projects, type of production, and governance/socio-economic characteristics. The booklet contains a draft extract of the results of the data collection per country. It is not a final product, rather a work in progress and is only intended to demonstrate the benefits of carrying out an ongoing mapping process to support any future MSHP in the Mediterranean. The full document can be downloaded here.

For the 2nd AQUAMED MSHP Meeting a background information booklet was developed and sent to the stakeholders. The aim of this document was to provide the stakeholders with all the necessary information prior to the meeting so that they had time to study the project results before the event. This document can be downloaded here.

AQUAMED Multi-Stakeholder Platform meetings
The information related to the organisation of the preliminary, first and second AQUAMED Multi-Stakeholders Platform meetings and all the promotional material specifically designed for these events are the following:
- Taking advantage of attendance of relevant Mediterranean stakeholders to the EAS Conference “Mediterranean Aquaculture 2020”, a preliminary meeting of the Mediterranean Aquaculture Multi-Stakeholder Platform was held on the 19th of October 2011. All feedback provided by the stakeholders during this event was analysed and incorporated in the preparation of the First AQUAMED MSHP Meeting.
- The AQUAMED 1st Open Multi-Stakeholder Meeting took place in Rome on the 20th and 21st of November 2012. The aim of the meeting was to identify the research priorities in the Mediterranean aquaculture sector and to explore the potential benefits of setting up a Mediterranean Stakeholders Platform. Several presentations and a video were shown during the first session: (1) Working Document: a compilation of the preliminary results of the AQUAMED data collection. The full document can be downloaded here; (2) a video introducing AQUAMED. The video can be watched here; (3) presentations on ‐ Concept of a Mediterranean Multi-Stakeholder Platform for Aquaculture. This presentation can be downloaded here, ‐ Political and Socio-Economic Characteristics of the Region. This presentation can be downloaded here, ‐ Mediterranean Multi-Stakeholder Platform for Aquaculture Research. This presentation can be downloaded here.

The full event report and the summary report of the meeting are available to download here.
- The Second AQUAMED Multi-Stakeholder Platform meeting was held in Istanbul on 20-21 May 2013. The stakeholders received the background information so they have time to get through the project results before the event. Based on the information provided, the stakeholders were asked contribute to designing the Plan of Action for Mediterranean aquaculture. The presentations given during the first day are shown below:
(1) The AQUAMED Project. This presentation can be downloaded here; (2) Mediterranean Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSHP) for Aquaculture Research. This presentation can be downloaded here; (3) Summary of the main results of the 1st Open Multi-Stakeholder Meeting (Rome, Nov. 2012). This presentation can be downloaded here; (4) Overview of the Aquaculture Sector and Future Trends in Mediterranean Aquaculture. This presentation can be downloaded here; (5) Recommendations for the Plan of Action. This presentation can be downloaded here; (6) The AQUAMED project follow-up and platform continuation. This presentation can be downloaded here and (7) Potential contribution of AQUAMED and FORCE to future EU initiatives. This presentation can be downloaded here.
The second day was focused on building the Plan of Action for Mediterranean Aquaculture based on the main eight constraints identified and their associated goals and sub-goals. The results of this exercise are available in the meeting report.

The Meeting report is available to download here.
The AQUAMED meetings were of vital importance for raising awareness of the project and conveying the main results to the observers of the AQUAMED project, enabling the observers to provide feedback. These meetings were crucial for disseminating results from the project.
Together with the three events described above, seven partner meetings and a methodology workshop were organised all along the project.

3- Exploitation of the results:

The project main foregrounds are the following:
- a database on the main research teams, structures and projects in the countries of the project partners,
- a method to group the countries according to their similarities for a given specific question, in order to trigger and facilitate exchanges and consequently find consensual answers to the question,
- a list of the main constraints hindering the development of aquaculture in the Mediterranean region and (1) a plan of action and (2) related research activities to be carried out in order to contribute to overcome them,
- a list of recommendations at the group of countries and at the regional levels in order to maximize the efficiency of the research sector in the field of Mediterranean aquaculture,
- a multi-stakeholder platform (60 to 80 participants representing the main categories of stakeholders in the field of aquaculture in each of the project partner countries), that was gathered several times during the project and elaborated plans of actions to overcome the first top constraints to the development of a sustainable aquaculture activity, identified during the project,
- a tool to assess and monitor the progress of the regional research in aquaculture and the global aquaculture sector, In addition to a common understanding of the sustainability problems for the development of a sustainable aquaculture at the national and regional levels.
All along the project, the information and outputs were disseminated by AquaTT through a web site, direct information in international meetings and leaflets distribution. The dissemination activities are described in the final report of the project and a detailed information is delivered through the project deliverables 15 and 16.
CAQ-GFCM and FEAP were observers and participated to the project meetings and steering committee meetings of the Aquamed project. At the end of the project, the GFCM-CAQ observer was convinced on the usefulness of the platform and the Aquamed platform was presented to the CAQ consortium during a plenary session. Finally, the Aquamed platform was recognized by the GFCM-CAQ and will continue to operate under the GFCM umbrella.
A first meeting was already organized by the GFCM to better share the Aquamed platform results and future operation propositions with all the GFCM national contact persons and start defining the future activities and operational mode under the GFCM umbrella. A second more operational meeting if already planned before the end of the year. Through these initiatives, the Aquamed database, which is the basic tool to operate the platform, will be hosted, completed and updated on the long term through the SIPAM system, which is the official information system of the GFCM-CAQ. The methods defined through the Aquamed project to operate the platform (using typology) and to assess the progress of the activity (assessment tool) will be consequently.
In parallel, ongoing discussions with EATiP, through the FEAP participation in Aquamed and the participation of some Aquamed partners to EATiP meetings, opened the possibility that the EATiP platform recently recognized by EU, could use the former Aquamed , now GFCMCAQ platform as the Mediterranean platform of EATiP. This would secure the continuation of the platform activity into the EU context and for the benefit of the EUmember countries.
Through this continuation, it is now acquired that the work started during the Aquamed project will be continued in a broader context: all the Mediterranean countries instead of only the Aquamed partners and the first findings from the collective work done during the project will be refined and completed: recommendations to improve the Mediterranean research in aquaculture, actions to be taken to overcome the major constraints. The major foregrounds of Aquamed will be further disseminated in the Mediterranean non-Aquamed partner countries.
The recommendations may already be used at the EU level to identify relevant research projects for the region. The link of the GFCM-CAQ platform with the EATiP platform would reinforce the valorization of the investment of the EU in the Mediterranean through the Aquamed project and the dissemination of the project findings and methods in the EU.
Another valorization of the project findings is through peer review publications. The titles and authors of the publications that will be produced from the project are listed below and a tentative schedule was established.

List of Websites:

www.aquamedproject.net