The European Union, Brazil and South Africa held a workshop last Sunday (26/08) during the Aquaculture Europe 2018 (Aqua18) in Montpellier, France, to discuss realistic opportunities for cooperation in research and innovation in aquaculture. With the theme "Food and Value Creation from the Atlantic Ocean," the event addressed one of the areas of common interest for the three signatories of the Belém Statement for Cooperation in Research on the Atlantic Ocean, signed in July 2017.
Facilitated by Sigi Gruber, Head of the Marine Research Unit, DG for Research and Innovation, European Commission; Andrei Polejack, Coordinator-General of Oceans, Antarctica and Geosciences of the MCTIC (Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications); and Belemane Semoli, Chief Director of Aquaculture and Economic Development of South Africa, the workshop discussed the four main challenges for global nutrition from different perspectives: public perception, new technologies, sustainable production, and climate change, and identified ways forward and new forms of cooperation among partners.
“The discussion focused on many opportunities for collaboration that are starting to be explored. The most tangible opportunity was the participation of a representative from the Brazilian fish farms industry, who was very impressed by the cooperation involving the EU, Brazil and South Africa, and considered the possibility of trying to adapt a platform involving the government, academic community and industry drawing from the EATIP (European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform), which was also presented during the workshop,” said Andrei Polejack.
According to Polejack, this is an opportunity to bring the academic community closer to the industry with support from the government. “Now back in Brazil, we are starting to line up concrete actions. An EU call for proposals for selecting a project to support a specific mode of aquaculture-Blue Growth 08 (H2020 BG08)-is now open. A proposal involving Brazil, the EU and South Africa that has now moved on to the second phase. This means a major step forward in this cooperation.”
Belemane Semoli believes that the Atlantic research cooperation between South Africa, EU and Brazil is extremely important, "because it provides us with a platform to manage and share the challenges we face, beginning with tapping into the ocean economy, which contributes to our economy in that domain, and job creation, which leads to food security and nutrition. This platform is key to help us unleash research that will provides us with vital knowledge and information needed to meet the challenges ahead.”
Jacques Fuchs, former Head of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector, DG for Research and Innovation, European Commission, explains why the EU is interested in the development of aquaculture in Atlantic countries. “We import over 70% of our fish and seafood. We are interested in developing scientific cooperation with all these countries to help them develop their own aquaculture capabilities and also to ensure that we can buy high quality, sustainably produced products from them since the EU’s standards for food imports are very strict.”
According to Fuchs, Brazil is particularly important since it has what he described as "fantastic potential" for aquaculture development, including fresh water aquaculture, and it is the best interest of the EU that this production complies with quality and economic and environmental sustainability standards.
Along these lines, Andrei Polejack points out that Brazil is a leading nation in research in the South Atlantic region and, therefore, has the responsibility of creating meaningful opportunities for international cooperation in research, with a special focus on aquaculture.
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