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New Project Investigates Parasite Control in European Aquaculture

Health Technology & equipment Education & academia

EU - ParaFishControl is a new 8.1 million EU Horizon 2020-funded research project that aims to improve our understanding of fish-parasite interactions and develop innovative solutions and tools to prevent, control and mitigate harmful parasites which affect the main fish species farmed in Europe (Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, common carp, turbot, European sea bass, and gilthead sea bream).

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Aquaculture is the fastest growing food producing sector worldwide, currently providing half of all fish for human food. Fish disease prevention and management are essential for the sustainability of the aquaculture industry.

ParaFishControl aims to improve the productivity, economic performance and image of European aquaculture through improved biosecurity, health and welfare of farmed fish.

Dr Ariadna Sitjà-Bobadilla, ParaFishControl project coordinator, explains: “This project is very timely, as parasitic diseases constitute a key constraint for sustainable finfish aquaculture in Europe. Parasites and related infections are increasingly responsible for severe damages in farmed fish, which significantly reduces aquaculture production and economy.”

ParaFishControl will increase our knowledge of parasite biology, their life-cycles and interactions with fish hosts of commercial interest.

The project will develop prophylactic measures, diagnostic tools and methods to detect parasites in fish and the environment. It aims to improve current treatments, and develop new products and advanced strategies for parasite treatments.

An innovative Food Safety Programme will be established to decrease and avoid risks of transfer of parasites from farmed fish to humans, and to strengthen the competitiveness and public image of European aquaculture. The outcomes of the project will benefit the whole aquaculture chain, from fish farmers to the consumer.

The project held its kick-off meeting in Benicàssim, Spain, in May 2015. At the meeting, the project’s partners discussed the vision, goals and planned methodologies of the project, and a promising exchange between the participating scientists and aquaculture industry partners was initiated.