Restorative Aquaculture Center Coming to Catalonia, Spain

 Seagriculture EU 2024
Mediterranean Restorative Aquaculture Centre

A lab technician with the microalgae Dunaliella tertiolecta culture used for juvenile sea urchin feeding. ©GFCM/Paola Beatrice Ortolani

The development of the Mediterranean Restorative Aquaculture Centre has been launched, due to open by the end of 2024 in La Rapita, Catalonia, Spain. This innovation and capacity-building center, was announced in a special workshop at the Global Seafood Expo in Barcelona, Spain, and will be the first of its kind in the region.

The Center is the result of a collaboration between the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the Generalitat de Catalunya, Department d’Acció Climàtica, Alimentació i Agenda Rural (DACC), with the support and infrastructures provided by the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA).  

Restorative aquaculture holds strategic importance as a tool to positively affect ecosystems services, offering ecological benefits, creating opportunities for local communities, and addressing climate change through adaptation and mitigation strategies. A diverse range of activities fall under its umbrella, including the production of algae, sea urchin farming and roe enhancement, bivalve farming, integrated multitrophic aquaculture systems and restocking. 

Combining traditional knowledge with advanced technologies, the Mediterranean Restorative Aquaculture Centre intends to reshape the aquaculture sector, ensuring the long-term viability of aquatic ecosystems and the communities relying on them. It will provide state-of-the-art facilities and expertise for knowledge exchange, research, and development of sustainable aquaculture practices.  

More specifically, the center will enable innovation and capacity building in the region on the farming of species such as macroalgae, sea urchins, bivalves, and holothurians, as well as on integrated multi-trophic aquaculture systems and adaptation to climate change.

The developers say that this initiative will facilitate sustainable aquaculture among producers and interested companies by fostering the exchange of technical guidance, expertise, and experiences among stakeholders in the Mediterranean region. 

An example of restorative aquaculture activity, already planned for the facility, is macroalgae culture, which is underdeveloped in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean Restorative Aquaculture Centre will be able to assist in regenerating the marine environment through the ecosystem benefits it provides, as well as promote the diversification of the aquaculture sector and its adaptation to climate change. 

“The opening of Mediterranean Restorative Aquaculture Centre as an innovation and capacity-building center is a very important milestone for our region. Within the framework of the GFCM 2030 Strategy, it aims at increasing and sharing knowledge on aquaculture resilience in the face of climate change,” said Miguel Bernal, GFCM Executive Secretary.

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