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PerformFISH, a project aimed at developing a Mediterranean sustanaible aquaculture

The Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC) is part of PerformFISH, a new H2020 European project focus on developing consumer driven aquaculture production by integrating innovative approaches that can help ensure European sea bream and sea bass aquaculture businesses are sustainable and competitive.


PerformFish is coordinated by the University of Thessaly (Greece) and its consortium brings together 28 partners from 10 different countries, which also include the Torre de la Sal Aquaculture Institute (IATS-CSIC), which coordinates CSIC's participation in the project, and the Marine Research Institute of Vigo (IIM-CSIC).

The farming of sea bass and sea bream is an important sector in the Mediterranean, contributing significantly to wealth and job creation in rural and coastal areas. Sea bream and sea bass are by volume the third (36.4%) and fourth (28.15%) most farmed fish species in the EU, and their collective value (€1.04 Billion) surpasses that of salmon (€780 M), trout (€550 M) or mussel farming (€490 M) (SOURCE: FEAP.INFO). However, in recent years, there has been growing concern regarding the lack of growth and improvement in Mediterranean marine fish farming.

PerformFISH has the direct support and endorsement of the industry, with producers’ associations from Greece, Spain, Italy, France and Croatia directly involved as partners in the project, focused on ensuring that the research addresses the needs of the sector and knowledge is transferred effectively to their members.

In the frame of the project, the Group of Biology of Reproduction of the ICM will lead the research on the development of epigenetic markers to assess growth, sex and tolerance to temperature, “This project represents an exciting challenge to further develop some ideas and tools aimed at the epigenetic programming of fish, a cutting-edge, non-pharmacological approach to improved production. It is stimulating to have such a challenge since there are no precedents, to work hand in hand with other researchers and the industry to help to optimize their production” explains Dr. Francesc Piferrer, group leader at ICM.

The group will develop its research in collaboration with the Hellenic Institute of Marine Research and the University of Crete, both in Greece, as well as with the IFREMER station in Palavas-les-Flots, France. It will also collaborate with the CSIC’s Institute of Aquaculture and the ULPG.

Dr Katerina Moutou, PerformFISH Coordinator at the University of Thessaly, said: “PerformFISH is an important and timely project for the sector as solutions are needed to tackle some of the underlying causes behind the current stagnation of the Mediterranean marine fish farming sector. We have brought together leading researchers and industry across Europe to co-design this innovative project to directly address the needs of the sector”

The PerformFISH project will run until April 2022 with an overall budget of €7.045 million, funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 funding programme (grant number 727610).