AquaTrace is a FP7 project which takes advantage of cutting edge genetic and genomic analytical approaches to support aquaculture activity and management, as well as the protection of our marine and freshwater environments.

This includes the development of forensically validated genetic tools for tracing the origin of farmed fish and to monitor genetic interactions between fish from aquaculture and their wild conspecifics. Additionally, AquqTrace is aiming at identifying the locations in fish genomes which are responsible for the physiological and life-history differences we observe between wild and cultured fish. Based on the scientific insights it will allow providing a risk assessment and management recommendations concerning the genetic impact of aquaculture fish on wild fish gene pools. The results and new insights emerging from AquaTrace could provide also very valuable support for the aquaculture industry, for example to guide breeding and domestication processes.

The AquaTrace consortium includes 22 partners from across Europe encompassing diverse expertise ranging from molecular genomics to practical fish breeding. Likewise, project partners include Universities, Governmental, EU and private research institutions as well as fish breeding companies and associations. Overall this broad background is expected to strongly contribute to the success of the project as well as in the dissemination of results to the end users.

The project stated on 1 November 2012 for a period of 4 years.


The world production from fisheries and aquaculture shows a continuous increase, with around 80% intended for human consumption. This is reflected also in the global annual per capita fish consumption (now at an all-time high of around 17 kg per capita). In the EU fish consumption reached in the 2007 around 23.3 kg per capita. While the global capture fisheries production remained since 1995 relatively stable, the growth over the last decade of fish production is attributed to aquaculture. Globally, aquaculture is the fastest growing animal food producing sector. However, in contrast with the strong growth in some regions of the world, mainly in Asia and Latin America, the overall EU aquaculture production stagnated and the EU self-sufficiency rate for fish and fish products fell in the last decade from 57% to 35%. In the last years the Commission has constantly promoted political initiatives to stimulate growth and improve the competitiveness of the sector, by calling amongst others for strong research input and by encouraging the development and use of innovative technologies and management techniques. The JRC aquaculture activity, established in January 2011, is aimed to address the mentioned needs.

 a4a Initiative: 'Assessment for All'

This initiative aims at developing assessment methods for stocks that have information about exploitation, like landings, discards, CPUE, effort, etc, but limited data on biology. The reason behind such idea is the fact that European countries are collecting lots of information through the Data Collection Framework on several stocks that are not assessed. The number is difficult to estimate, but it can be 200+. These stocks will have 10-15 years of exploitation data by 2020 but no ageing and limited, if any, reproduction information. The Initiative will develop a minimum standard MSE algorithm (Management Strategies Evaluation) to be implement on FLR ( and set up a system to run a "massive stock assessment", assessing with the same methodology a large number of fish stocks.



AnchovyID aims at providing molecular tools in support of traceability and anchovy product authentication. Molecular methods have a high potential to support legislation for monitoring and enforcement, but their effectiveness for research and control uses is linked to the existence of good data and easily accessible tools.


AQUAGEN - Genetics for Marine Aquaculture Management

In view of dwindling fish stocks worldwide, aquaculture can play an important role in meeting the global growing demand for seafood. However major challenges, such as environmental risks, need to be addressed to assess and contain potentially negative impacts of aquaculture activity.
By focussing on two marine fish species of major commercial interest, common sole (Solea solea) and Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), AquaGen aims at building a basis for aquaculture management of marine fish based on genetic tools, including the monitoring and control of farm escapees, and fish farming for restocking purposes of wild populations. 


CAFE stands for Capacity, F and Effort. The EU's Common Fisheries Policy aims at matching European fleet capacity to resource availability. It has been widely assumed that reducing fleet catching capacity and limiting fishing effort will reduce fishing mortality, but the scientific basis for this assumption is not fully established. The FP6 CAFE project carried out a comprehensive study of capacity and effort metrics and modelled their relationships to fishing mortality, and the economic drivers for capacity development. 


CEDER stands for Catch, Effort and Discard Estimates in Realtime. The primary objective of this FP6 project was to harness technologies, such as the Vessel Monitoring System and electronic logbooks, to provide more accurate and timelier information on catches, effort, landings, discards and quota and TAC uptake and to assess the benefits of this information for fisheries management.


CEVIS - Comparative Evaluations of Innovative Solutions in European Fisheries Management. CEVIS is an FP6 project that assessed potential innovations for European fisheries management regimes in respect to four general management objectives: biological robustness; economic efficiency; the cost effectiveness of management activities; and social robustness.CEVIS examined four types of regime-level innovations: the use of participatory approaches to fisheries governance, rights-based regimes, effort-control regimes and decision rule systems.


COBECOS - Costs and Benefits of Control Strategies. COBECOS is an FP 6 project that aimed at conducting a cost benefit analysis of different control schemes for management regimes relevant for the CFP. The project developed an appropriate theory of fisheries enforcement, empirical estimations of theoretical relationships for particular fisheries (case studies), and a practical computer model for fisheries enforcement (based on the theory and the empirical estimations).

COBECOS Swedish Pilot study

The Swedish COBECOS Pilot Study aimed at developing a tool that will conduct cost-benefit analyses of control schemes for management strategies and infer the potential economic benefits to the fisheries which might accrue from proper enforcement of the management measures.
As a result of the Swedish COBECOS pilot, tools for fisheries enforcement in two specific Swedish fisheries were produced. These tools can be of use to all interested EU fisheries control agencies.

Data Collection

FISHREG data collection and data quality work in the context of the EU Data Collection Framework (DCF) for the Common Fisheries Policy. Dedicated data collection web site.


DECLIMS stands for Detection and Classification of Marine Traffic from Space.The key objective of this seminal FP5 research project was to understand better;vessel detection and classification on commercial satellite imagery, both radar and optical. The project made it possible to establish in considerable detail the state-of-the-art of existing (semi-) operational systems for ship detection and classification based on satellite imaging sensors. Benchmarking exercises exposed weaknesses in the vessel detection and classification systems and algorithms. The project helped drive the development of new sensors and platforms towards the operational needs of vessel monitoring.  

Energy Efficiency in Fisheries

A dedicated website to address the issue of energy efficiency in fisheries whose primary target audience is fishery professionals. The website contains reference information and studies, EU legislation, scientific literature, past and future events of interest (e.g. exhibitions and conferences), information on EU research-funding opportunities, relevant projects and initiatives by universities, research centres, companies , professional associations and consortia at regional and national levels. 

EU Coastal Fishing Communities

This project is aimed at identifying EU coastal communities dependent on fisheries using spatial analysis and an economic geography approach. The importance of fishing activities for the local community is estimated at each fishing port as the ratio between expected employment in the fishery sector and general employment in the surrounding areas.
The underlying idea is that a coastal community has a greater reliance on fisheries if the fishing fleet is large, potentially generating many jobs, and the fishing port is located in a remote area with low accessibility to large population centers and limited alternative employment opportunities.
A GIS application has been developed to disseminate the results of the study. The application allows exploring the data on fishery employment estimated from the study and producing maps and statistical charts by year, fishing port, regions, countries, or user-defined areas spanning several country and regional divisions.


FishPopTrace (2008-2011)

FishPopTrace is an FP7 project that aims to build a framework for Sustainable Fisheries Management and Conservation by

  • Developing traceability tools supporting a "from ocean to fork" approach through technologies based on molecular genetics, otolith microchemistry and morphometrics,
  • Applying forensic standards to technology development for fisheries control, enforcement and conservation,
  • Tailoring newly-developed tools to the needs of end-users and stakeholders,
  • Engaging with priorities of the European Common Fisheries Policy,
  • Enhancing awareness of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing within the industry, academics, policy makers and consumers.



FishTrace is an FP5 project that resulted in the production of a genetic catalogue associated to biological reference collections from more than 200 commercial marine fish. Genetic and taxonomic information is compiled in an online database.


Hardening of GNSS-Based Trackers

Civilian GNSS based real-time tracking systems are presently used in a number of fields, such as the fisheries Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), the maritime Automatic Identification System (AIS), and the transportation of dangerous goods. Such trackers are commonly composed of a GNSS receiver module and a communications module for transmission of positions and are vulnerable to tampering. This research project analyzed vulnerabilities and options for hardening such trackers, such as against fake GNSS signals, physical tampering, side channel attacks, and the substitution of position reports.


IUU fishing and support to traceability

The JRC is actively pursuing the integration of genetics, genomics, chemistry and forensics to improve existing fisheries control and enforcement frameworks as well as traceability schemes by

  • Compiling and managing genetic and other datasets for species identification and origin assignment;
  • Developing public web-based geo-visualisation applications to improve data integration and accessibility;
  • Initiating and participating in international research endeavours addressing scientific questions relevant for fisheries control and enforcement frameworks as well as traceability schemes;
  • Engaging with the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP);
  • Engaging with national and international stakeholders, such as the Community Fisheries Control Agency (CFCA) and FAO.


Despite the increasing demand for sea food in the EU, its aquaculture is not expanding at a sufficient rate to satisfy the demand. EU aquaculture production is stagnating in the freshwater and molluscs segments, while the marine segment was growing from 2006 to 2010 by some 3%. The very few new licences issued in marine aquaculture in recent years are expression of the difficulties of the sector to expand. One of the main constraints is to get access to suitable sites in coastal waters, commonly explained as lack of space. These difficulties related to the competition for space with other users are forcing many producers to move production outside the EU.

Mapping habitat of marine species

This JRC institutional project aims at providing a synoptic view of the preferred habitat of key marine species in terms of economic or ecological importance, as well as it's time and spatial variability in support of fisheries management and control or conservation purposes. The methodology uses Earth Observation data (sea surface temperature and chlorophyll-a content) at daily time scale over the last decade and also in near real time. The approach was developed for the Atlantic bluefin tuna, the European hake and the fin whale in the Mediterranean Sea and on tropical tuna species in the Tropical Atlantic and Indian oceans.



Project MARUSE addressed the utilisation of Galileo by the MARitime USEr community and was funded by the (then) Galileo Joint Undertaking. The objective of the MARUSE project was to bring together small and medium enterprises (SMEs), maritime and other GNSS industry, as well as key service providers and users in the maritime and inland waterways areas with the aim to introduce EGNOS and Galileo in the maritime domain.


The main idea behind this initiative is to contribute new unprecedented knowledge on blue shark (Prionace glauca), an apex predator being the most abundant large pelagic shark of the Mediterranean Sea, by creating a robust baseline of data describing the genetic stratification of blue shark (BS) in the Mediterranean. The approach would shed light on aspects related to their population structure, the connection to non-Mediterranean populations, and help to design management schemes in order to strengthen conservation efforts for BS. The key objective is to scrutinize the prevailing assumption that Mediterranean BS form only one population, or one "stock". As outlined above meeting this objective will provide a scientific basis for managing the stock(s).


The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) sets the overall goal of achieving good environmental status (GES) for Europe's Seas by 2020. To determine GES, 11 qualitative indicators were chosen. FISHREG, in collaboration with ICES, coordinated work for the definition, selection and application of indicators for Descriptor 3, concerning populations of all commercially exploited fish. MSFD is the environmental pillar of the EU's new Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP). See this technical report for a summary of the results of the Task Group of experts for Descriptor 3.


REMUS was a research project commissioned by JRC to improve red mullet population differentiation in European waters.

Scientific Fishery Data

The Joint Research Centre is assembling on behalf of DG MARE scientific fishery data collected under the EU Data Collection Framework (DCF) and acting as secretariat of the Scientific Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF). Fishery data is collected by EU Member States on the basis of national sampling programmes. Part of this data is uploaded in a database managed by the JRC, in response to data calls issued by DG MARE. The data is analysed by members of the STECF and forms the basis for scientific opinions and recommendations formulated in STECF reports. Once published in STECF reports the processed data becomes publicly available for further studies and analyses. The purpose of this website is to allow the exploration through interactive tables and charts of the aggregated data published in STECF reports.

Seafood trade

Seafood production is in general influenced by trade more than agricultural production. Almost 37% of fisheries and aquaculture production enters international trade, making domestic production highly exposed to markets all over the world. This exposure to trade competition is particularly relevant for the EU given its high, and expanding, dependence on seafood imports. Therefore, increasing the knowledge on seafood market and trade through research and analysis is important for the development and future of the EU seafood industry. The Commission recognises this need through the promotion of initiatives intended to increase market efficiency and support business decisions and policy-making, such as the European Market Observatory of Fishery and Aquaculture Products, which was officially launched in 2013.
Specific research by JRC on seafood trade complements the annual evaluations on the economic performance of the fisheries, aquaculture and seafood processing sectors by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) and the market intelligence analyses provided by DG MARE in the context of the European Market Observatory for fisheries and aquaculture (EUMOFA).


SHEEL stands for Secure and Harmonised European Electronic Logbook. This seminal FP6 project aimed at developing and demonstrating an operational, cost-effective and secure electronic transfer system that would convey logbook information ship to shore including between authority agencies to enhance fisheries monitoring and control. The development and demonstration of the system involved the integration of existing onboard and onshore systems, the testing of a common format for exchanging fisheries information between vessels and authorities, a security mechanism for transferring the data onshore and inspection facilities for performing onboard checks.


Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries.

 Stock Dependency

The CFP puts a special emphasis in preserving viable economic and social conditions for coastal communities relying on fisheries. The purpose of this project is to build a policy support tool to assess the economic dependency on regulated stocks for fishing coastal communities in Sweden. The tool gives the possibility to see which coastal communities are likely to be more affected in economic terms from the setting of quotas.
The project complements previous research on coastal communities by JRC in which dependency ratios on fishing activities, in terms of employment and GVA, were calculated on the "land side" in respect of general statistics for the areas surrounding the fishing ports. The availability of detailed logbook data in this project gives more possibilities to disaggregate economic analyses at the level of fishing ports, addressing some limitations which were present in the previous study on coastal communities and examining fisheries dependencies on the "sea side".



STURSNIP is an 18-month research project commissioned by JRC to discover and develop Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms for sturgeon product traceability. JRC intends to integrate the project's results with similar data concerning other commercial fish species, in the framework of its research activities in origin assignment and species identification for fisheries enforcement and the fight against IUU fishing.


(link to externally-managed website)

TANGO stands for Telecommunication Advanced Network for GMES operations. The objective of this FP6 Integrated Project is to develop, integrate, demonstrate and promote new satellite telecommunication services to expand GMES services in areas where new needs can be identified. For the demonstrations, the project included fisheries control exercises in areas outside EU waters characterized by deficient ICT infrastructures.



In the scientific community working on fisheries advice, there's a long standing claim, from biologists that economic models don't take into account the full complexity of the stocks' dynamics, and from economists that biological models don't take into account the economic effects of management and the fleet's adaptive strategies. The final outcome is the lack of an integrated bioeconomic modelling platform that takes into account the full complexity and dynamics of stocks and fisheries, as well as the interaction between the availability of resources and their exploitation.

The 2012 STECF Expert Working Group (EWG 12-02), dealing with Baltic and Cod multi-annual management plans requested JRC to assess the possibility of extending Fcube (Ulrich et al., 2011), a multi-species multi-fleet projection algorithm for scenario testing of TAC and effort management options, and merging it with Fishrent (Salz et al., 2010, 2011), a bioeconomic model that aims at optimizing the long term rent from fisheries.