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AQUAChange project aims to focus on marine environment and aquaculture. University of Alicante (UA) PhD in Marine Sciences Carlos Valle, together with Sal Aquaculture Institute (IATS-CSIC) research lecturer Jaume Pérez, is coordinating  AQUAChange, a research project of excellence focused on marine conservation and aquaculture production. With an investment of ten million euros co-financed by the Valencian Government and the Ministry of Science and Innovation, the project is part of the Ministry of Science and Innovation’s complementary R+D+i plan on Marine Sciences.

The programme aims to promote sectors such as coastal and marine tourism, fishing and aquaculture that have been affected by the pandemic and other sectors of the blue economy that together have enormous potential in terms of their contribution to the sustainable economic recovery of the participating regions.

AQUAChange involves research teams from the Valencian region coordinated by University of Alicante Marine Sciences researcher Carlos Valle and IATS-CSIC research lecturer Jaume Pérez, in order to mitigate the effects of climate change on the marine environment and aquaculture.  In particular, Valencian scientists will develop a programme for the conservation of the marine environment and the production of water species culture, with a budget of ten million euros, of which four million will be provided by the Regional Ministry of Innovation, Universities, Science and Digital Society, through the Directorate-General for Science in Research, and the rest by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

A research, innovation and transfer network will be developed through the programme to integrate new marine and terrestrial technologies, platforms and sensors for the acquisition of data and samples in the field, as well as their digitisation. In this way, the marine and coastal environment will be observed and monitored in order to assess and mitigate the impact of humans on this environment, ensuring a good environmental status to guarantee the sustainability of natural resources and to understand the role of climate change in the sea.

A selection of breeds and species best adapted to the expected changes will be carried out, also adapting cultivation and feeding strategies. This will (directly or indirectly) reduce carbon emissions, escapes, eutrophication and pollution of the environment, and losses due to microalgae and algal blooms, as well as devastating natural phenomena.

In order to preserve water quality in farming areas, AQUAChange aims to develop technological solutions to minimise the massive damage to farming infrastructures caused by strong winds and storms, as well as early detection and warning systems for aquatic pathogens and chemical and natural hazards.

According to University of Alicante researcher Carlos Valle, Spain is in a privileged position to increase aquaculture production due to the extension of the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. However, it is also in a situation of extreme vulnerability, as the increase in temperatures in the Mediterranean is higher than the average recorded in other regions of the planet at the same latitude. Actions to mitigate the effects of climate change on aquaculture are urgent, as it is the only production sector capable of meeting the increasing demand for animal protein on a global scale. Therefore, contribution is necessary to maintain sustainable development of aquaculture in the Mediterranean arc, while creating new opportunities for this production sector of the Valencian region, which must be supported by groups of research excellence in aquaculture and related areas.

Carlos Valle

Carlos Valle has been a biologist since 1995 and holds a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Alicante, where he currently works as a senior lecturer, Vice Dean for Mobility and coordinator of the undergraduate degree in Marine Sciences. In terms of nautical training, he is a skipper and professional diver and has more than 25 years of experience as a Diving Instructor. In addition, his professional experience includes 8 years in sea bream and sea bass farming.

As a member of the Department of Marine Sciences and Applied Biology he has participated in more than 114 projects, his main lines of research being focused on the environmental effects of marine aquaculture and their mitigation, marine protected areas, fisheries management and the influence of habitat and human activities on fish population.