EU launches €4.8 million aquaculture welfare project

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
30 November 2022, at 7:40am

A new 4.5 year Horizon Europe project, called Cure4Aqua, has been launched this month in a bid to improve aquatic animal health and welfare.

underwater picture of fish in a cage
Gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) – one of the targeted species in the project

© AquaTech Lab, HCMR

Involving researchers from 16 countries, the project aims to develop new approaches to prevent aquatic fish diseases through innovative prophylaxis and technologies for early disease detection, while also supporting the advancement of alternative treatments to replace pharmaceuticals in disease control.

Cure4Aqua has brought together leading experts to take several key actions:

  • Develop cost-effective vaccines to prevent diseases in farmed fish.
  • Implement selective breeding programmes to improve stress and disease management.
  • Develop innovative, bio-based and sustainable alternatives to antibiotics for controlling fish diseases at various life stages.
  • Develop new tools and artificial-intelligence-based technology to improve fish health and welfare.
  • Improve diagnostics of fish pathogens.
  • Integrate farmer and fish welfare as a priority of aquaculture production by developing high welfare standards that consider different life-stages, production systems, and knowledge of welfare needs.

Project coordinator, Ivona Mladineo from the Institute of Parasitology (BCAS) in the Czech Republic, said in a press release: “Research must be at the forefront of positive changes that will ensue our food systems are sustainable while caring about high health and welfare standards for fish. There is an urgent need to solve some of the major shortcomings and constraints that the European aquaculture industry is facing. Cure4Aqua will address these issues by building a co-creative approach with other players interested and involved in the aquaculture. I am looking forward leading this vital project.”

Cure4Aqua partners held an inaugural project meeting on 16-17 November 2022 in Prague and the project will run until April 2027.