Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
- Optimal and carbon-neutral use of marine space in these two European marine areas with high concentration of maritime activities;
- Increased sustainable and environmentally sound aquaculture production, particularly of algae and other low-trophic level aquatic organisms;
- Ensure safety of farmed seafood and increase consumers’ trust;
- Data-based systems enabling a market-wide monitoring and data analysis service for aquaculture;
- Increase share of renewable energy consumption along the full value chain of aquaculture and minimise its dependence on fossil fuel;
- Enhanced knowledge to minimise the carbon footprint and environmental impact of aquaculture;
- Advance professional skills and competences of those working and being trained to work within the blue economy.
Proposals will show the way to profitable and sustainable seafood farming away from the densely populated coasts of the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. Such farming will not depend on fossil fuels; a focus should be on low trophic level species; increased production will not lead to increased pressure on the ecosystem, therefore will not compromise the achievement of Good Environmental Status. Aquaculture farms will also share space with other offshore economic activities in a synergistic way. Proposals should demonstrate solutions for increasing circularity by the production of low-emission, zero- or low-carbon and toxic-free farming of aquatic organisms in an optimally used marine space. They should test and demonstrate novel aquaculture methods and techniques, spanning from engineering and robotics to breeding, and from spatial planning to a holistic governance of multiple maritime activities. They should include viable concepts for market access and commercial operation, and outreach to consumers and investors, to avoid that innovative solutions stop operating once grant funding stops. Proposals should also explore options for creating eco-friendly and sustainable artificial reefs in or near the wind energy and aquaculture premises, offering suitable habitats and shelter for fish and other biota. Proposals should also work on approaches for efficient and cost-effective monitoring of both the inputs of the aquaculture industry (such as water quality) and its outputs (such as emissions, including the reporting requirements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). In particular, proposals should focus specifically on developing data-based management systems that offer services, including risk analysis, to individual aquaculture producers for monitoring and minimizing diseases and alien species, managing inputs, optimizing sustainable production and demand management.
Proposals should include case studies in promising sites both in the Baltic Sea and in the North Sea. At least one case study in each proposal should include a commercially viable pilot farm for seaweeds within wind farms. Additionally, at least one case study in each proposal should include a commercially viable pilot farm for molluscs within wind farms. Additional pilots for farms of other marine organisms are not excluded but are not a requirement, including use of Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA). Proposed solutions should be in line with the EU taxonomy regulation and delegated acts.
- Carry out demonstration activities in 3 different countries of the Baltic and North Sea basin, involving and including in the consortium partners from these three countries;
- Identify areas and locations where the solutions are replicable and draw up an action plan and roadmap to replicate and scale up the pollution solutions and actions.
To address the impact-driven approach of the Mission and the nature of Innovation Actions, proposals are expected to work with and engage at least 5 ‘associated regions’ to showcase the feasibility, replicability and scale up of the solutions developed within the projects in other areas. ‘Associated regions’ are understood as areas with ecosystems that can benefit from the demonstration activities (e.g. neighbouring regions and/or regions in a different sea basin) and/or less-developed regions, with the need to build capacity to implement the innovative solutions for low-impact marine aquaculture and multi-purpose use of marine space in the associated regions addressing possible barriers and showing the feasibility of implementing innovative solutions. The proposals should ensure that the associated regions are located in Member States/Associated countries other than those that are part of the project consortium. An “associated region” must benefit from the Financial Support to Third Parties provided under this topic only once. The partners will proactively reach out to the associated regions to enable them to follow closely the project and its demonstration activities. The projects should continuously share their outcomes and knowledge with those ‘associated regions’ and provide them with technical assistance to build capacity and to implement solutions for low-impact marine aquaculture and multi-purpose use of marine space in their territory that contribute to achieving the Mission objectives. The technical assistance to the ’associated regions’ should include the provision of technical advisory services necessary to the prepare roadmaps, plans and projects for low-impact marine aquaculture and multi-purpose use of marine space in the associated regions addressing possible barriers and showing the feasibility of implementing innovative solutions.
The maximum amount of Financial Support to Third Parties is EUR 100,000 per ’associated region’ for the entire duration of the action. Proposals should outline the selection process of the third parties to which financial support would be granted based on principles of transparency, objectivity and fairness.
The proposals should build on research and innovation developed in the frame of related projects in the current and previous EU framework programmes, such as Horizon 2020, LIFE, EMFF and its continuation the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund, and other funding streams as well as national and regional programmes in the Baltic and North sea basins and the activities of the Sustainable Blue Economy Partnership. The proposals will demonstrate novel methods and social innovation practices resulting in holistic socio-ecological governance and management plans. The proposals need to build in capacity to reach local/regional and national systems of multi-stakeholders and to enhance their interconnections at basin scale. Multi stakeholder engagements will require active participation from academia to research performing organisations, from citizens to civil society, from young innovators to start-ups, SMEs and other businesses. Activities focused on citizen engagement should also be gender-responsive and include groups at risk of social exclusion to promote a wider uptake of the developed solutions, where relevant.
The projects funded under this topic will:
- build links with other Mission activities and other relevant activities within the lighthouse and its area to maximize synergies, as well as with the other Mission lighthouses;
- build links with the Mission implementation monitoring system that will be part of the Mission Implementation Support Platform and with the Baltic and North sea basin lighthouse support facility and platform, for reporting, monitoring and coordination of all relevant implementation activities in the lighthouse area;
- support the Ocean and water knowledge system, in particular by contributing to monitoring, modelling and knowledge creation and data.
A strong communication component and an active involvement of stakeholders, including from the aquaculture and energy industry, fishers, consumers and NGOs, in a co-creation approach is essential for the uptake of the produced outputs. Training and education activities should be included. Market analysis and commercialisation strategies (customer identification, distribution, branding etc.) will be a strong asset.
The outcomes should address the European Green Deal objectives, the Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system, the EU Bioeconomy Strategy, the Communication on a new approach for a Sustainable Blue Economy and the Guidelines for sustainable and competitive EU aquaculture, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive.
Proposals are expected to show how their activities and results will achieve the Mission’s objectives, in line with the timeframe of the Mission phases, i.e.: by 2025 for the ‘development and piloting’ phase and 2030 for the ‘deployment and upscaling phase’.
The conditions are described in General Annex B.
The following exceptions apply: In addition to the standard eligibility conditions, the consortium must involve and include partners from at least three countries of the Baltic and North sea basin in which demonstration activities will be taking place.
The total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 16.00 million.
The Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 8.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
For more information, please see here.