The total financial resources committed by the European Commission to aquaculture research in its work programs is often quoted as being some 8-10% of the total research spend. Furthermore, analysis of EU projects over the last 3 Framework Programs indicates that there have been significantly fewer projects on shellfish compared to finfish. At the national level, this proportion may be mirrored, but this is uncertain.
Irrespective of the actual number of EU and national research projects that have been completed over the years, or are ongoing at present, several key questions remain:
- What are the actual outcomes of the research and how might these impacts the sector?
- What is the level of shellfish SMEs in the research that has been done?
- How has the knowledge been transferred to the sector?
- What is the level of repetition/overlap in research themes in different countries?
The unique approach of EUROSHELL is to bring together the research community with the shellfish companies and their producer associations to address these issues.
The European Aquaculture Society has close to 600 members in more than 40 countries and the majority of these are in the scientific community. In 2007, EAS set up a “thematic group” within its membership of European shellfish experts consisting of academic and applied scientists, consultants and experts from the industry, under the name of ‘Euroshell’. Many of the researchers in this group are represented in this EUROSHELL proposal and have been active in European and other international as well as national projects, hence the participation of the EAS network guarantees the contribution of high quality researchers. This not only holds for the full partners in the EUROSHELL project but also for EAS network members from other EU countries and from other institutions who will be invited for the workshops.
The European Mollusc Producers Association brings in EUROSHELL 7440 SMEs together as follow:
This fact is to compare with the 8267 shellfish farms in Europe: in this figure EMPA and its members bring the 90% of the European shellfish farms in EUROSHELL.
Hence, these two KEY European organizations will act together as umbrella groups for the rest of the consortium, and will, through the processes of consultation described in this proposal bring the stakeholders together to address the issues that are at stake in these regions.
In concert with the outcomes of the EATIP shellfish workshop (February 2012) outcomes, EUROSHELL will consolidate the regional approach and integrate it into a European one.
High quality research for the future of the shellfish sector will therefore be valorised, as the achievements of the objectives of EUROSHELL will create a strategic research and innovation agenda that responds to a clear vision for the sector, taking into account the specificities and the priorities of SMEs in the sector. The mapping of the shellfish industry and research infrastructure in a dedicated work package will address the key question of overlap and will enable SMEs that wish to communicate ideas or be involved in RTD initiatives to do so.
As principal advisors to EUROSHELL, both DEVNET and EATIP will contribute to making sure that the outcomes of EUROSHELL can be easily incorporated into their existing structures.