Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

15 PhD studentships in the EATFISH project (Marie Sklodowska Curie)

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    Multiple Research Institutions throughout Europe
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    31/07/2021 23:00 - Europe/Brussels
    Netherlands › Wageningen
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions


Fifteen Early Stage Researchers positions (PhD projects) within Marie Curie ITN “EATFISH”

The main undertaking of EATFish is to educate young scientists who will be capable of envisioning and creating the transformational changes necessary to support sustainable and profitable European aquaculture through an interdisciplinary action. EATFish is a truly multidisciplinary research project aimed at integrating the biological, technical, socio-economic and governance aspects needed for sustainable and profitable aquaculture.

Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector since the 1970s and its most important purpose is to provide healthy and safe food adapted to consumer preferences. At the same time there are fundamental concerns about the ways we farm and transport food across the world, which are related to negative environmental impacts. Hence, sustainable aquaculture has been identified as the “greatest and most feasible” way to obtain adequate seafood for human consumption and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2, 4, 13 and 14 on food security, quality education, climate action and use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

The objective of EATFish is a sustainable and profitable European aquaculture sector to secure healthy seafood for our growing society. Through this overarching approach we aim to:

  1. Optimise resource economy in European aquaculture, such that it contributes to a circular bioeconomy
  2. Ensure animal health and welfare
  3. Develop novel aquaculture products targeted to specific market segments
  4. Refine aquaculture governance to facilitate sustainable development of the sector
  5. Enhance the skills and competences of future aquaculture professionals

With a truly multidisciplinary consortium composed of universities, research institutes and private sector partners we propose cutting-edge research related to the biology and technical aspects of aquaculture and have a similarly large effort directed towards socio-economic and governance aspects of aquaculture.

EATFish will provide a complementary set of experimental and conceptual local and network-wide training modules and workshops to 15 young researchers. The recruited fellows will work towards personalized training plans to meet individual needs, interests and PhD projects.

Be sure to check out the Marie Curie Career development information to determine your eligibility and the opportunities provided in these actions. If you are eligible please apply to the project of interest by sending a cover letter and CV to the person in charge of that particular project. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN Programme under grant agreement No. 956697 (EATFISH).


For more information on individual projects and links to apply for the positions see: www.eatfishmariecurie.wordpress.com

most projects will start at 1-Sept-2021


individual PhD Research Projects:

Project 1: Enhanced nutrient utilization efficiency through development of ‘system feeds’ (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)

Aquafeed diet formulation in the current era is a great challenge due to the reduction of fish meal inclusion, which may affect nutrient digestibility as well as waste production. Such metabolic wastes may differ in C:N ratio, therefore affecting the microbial populations in the fish gut, but also in the nitrifying and denitrifying biofilters and the rearing water. Therefore, microbial community and its management are crucial for the stabilization of culture environment, an efficient waste management, and fish welfare, especially for closed systems such as recirculating systems. Here seabass diets will be evaluated in terms of fish and system performance, focusing on the carbon fraction of the feeds (type of fibers). The feeds will be developed to adjust the nutrients ratio for optimal removal of waste (with partner organisation ARC). The effects of diet composition on microbiota diversity and functionality (nitrifiying, denitrifying, heterotrophic microbes), system and filter performance (i.e nitrogen removal rates, stability), and fish welfare (in collaboration with CSIC), will be measured. Research outcomes will provide feeds for optimal fish growth, biofilter performance and overall environmental performance of aquaculture systems.

PI: Fotini Kokou [fotini.kokou(at)wur.nl]

Application already closed


Project 2: Development of next-generation probiotics for aquaculture (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)

Currently probiotics used in aquaculture are often derivatives of human probiotics of which the efficacy and fate in aquaculture are poorly characterised. ‘Healthy’ salmon and oyster aquaculture systems will be used as inoculum to isolate potential probiotic strains. Depending on the disease target aerobic (water/gills) or anaerobic (gut) strains will be selected for. Pure strains or minimal microbial consortia will be compiled to generate a microbial biobank. Efficacy to inhibit growth of known (shell)fish bacterial pathogens, such as Aeromonas salmonicida, Flexibacter columnaris, Vibrio vulnificus and the eukaryote Neoparamoeba perurans, causative agent of amoebic gill disease in salmon, will be assessed in challenge assays; first in vitro, subsequently in vivo in collaboration with IFREMER and NOFIMA. The expected result is a number of single species or minimal microbial communities to be used as more effective next-generation probiotics in aquaculture. Market potential of these new probiotics will be investigated in collaboration with ABSint.

PI: Detmer Sipkema [detmer.sipkema(at)wur.nl]

Application deadline: 1 May 2021

Project 3: The genetics of disease outbreaks in mussels (Ifremer – La Tremblade - France)

Recent disease outbreaks in Mytilus edulis and M. galloprovincialis leading to high mortality remain unexplained although poor cytogenetic quality of mussels and the presence of virulent Vibrio strains have been observed during this phenomenon. The major aim in EATFish is to identify the heritability and the genetic correlations associated with growth and resistance to spring disease outbreaks in M. edulis and M. galloprovincialis. Preliminary results have shown that mussel survival increased by 34-48% after one generation of selection in M. edulis. Here, we will investigate the genetic basis for resistance to the main mussels species cultivated in France and Belgium (offshore sites of Partner Organisation CG), as well as their hybrids. Subsequently, mussels of each species showing high resistance and high vulnerability levels will be crossed and phenotyped, and subjected to controlled challenge tests (by co-habitation with mussels exposed in the field). These results will aid the mussel industry to better understand the etiology of the disease and sustain their production by using resistant mussels. Exploitation of the data and knowledge transfer to the breeding industry will be done through a secondment at SYSAAF.

PIs: Lionel Dégremont [Lionel.Degremont(at)ifremer.fr], Abdellah Benabdelmouna [abdellah.benabdelmouna(at)ifremer.fr], Jean-Baptiste Lamy [jean.baptiste.lamy(at)ifremer.fr]

Application deadline: 1 May 2021


Project 4: To define microbial biomarkers for fish mucosal health (CSIC - Torre de la Sal - Spain)

Fish mucosal samples will be used for microbiota profiling in terms of diversity and functional capacity of the fish microbiome. Changes in the microbiota of Sparus aurata (the gilthead sea bream) in response to biotic factors (host genetics, presence of pathogens) and abiotic factors (water temperature, diet [collaboration CCMAR]) will be determined and linked to fish health and performance indicators to understand the means by which certain microbial taxa and genes relate to host health. The combination of metagenome and metatranscriptome studies [collaboration WU] with immune cell composition and activation in the gut and gills and general performance indicators (growth, feed conversion and physical activity monitored by implanted biosensors) will create a complete package of information that can be extrapolated to assess health markers. In silico predictive modelling (discriminant analyses, Bayesian networks) will allow to define a core microbiota or microbiota-profile biomarkers, associated to different heath status or farming interventions. A major aim is to assess whether these particular biomarkers can be identified and exploited to increase fish health and performance, or to be used as early indicators to adapt aquaculture management procedures [collaboration Nofima].

PI: Ariadna Sitja-Bobadilla [ariadna.sitja(at)csic.es]

Application deadline: 1 May 2021


Project 5: Genetics of amoebic gill disease resistance and gill health (Nofima – Ås - Norway)

Nofima’s Department of Breeding and Genetics is seeking one dedicated and enthusiastic PhD candidate to conduct research within quantitative genetic and statistical genomics for gill health in Atlantic salmon. The main tasks of this position is to search for alternative phenotyping methods for gill health that are non-invasive, objective and accurate and to perform quantitative genetics and genomics analysis to facilitate effective selective breeding for improved gill health in salmon.

PI: Marie Lillehammer [marie.lillehammer(at)nofima.no]

Application already closed


Project 6: A nutritional approach to improve fish robustness (CCMAR – Faro - Portugal)

FAO is responding to the “Blue Revolution” by promoting aquaculture as the solution to improve food security, and nutrition while increasing biological efficiency and optimizing the production cycle. To face this challenge, it is important to develop resilient aquaculture practices, which increase productivity, maintain healthy ecosystems, and ensure a sustainable consumption pattern. Nutrition is the most important factor that determines both growth and development of animals, with a direct impact in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). CCMAR will target dietary strategies that will improve fish robustness, to understand the biological pathways that mediate the relationships between growth, nutrition, and metabolism. Dietary strategies will be developed in collaboration with Partner Organisation Skretting (ARC). The GIT of fish is modulated by diet type, the initial microbiota adapts over time and is shaped by the availability of different nutrients. The impact of diet on fish gut microbiota and identification of microbial biomarkers related to host robustness will be done in collaboration with Partner CSIC. Growth plasticity, oxidative biology, protein metabolism, and the microbiome-gut axis will be key targets for the PhD proposal. Experimental species: gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and Senegalese sole (Solea senegalensis).

PI: Sofia Engrola [sengrola(at)ualg.pt]

Application deadline: 31 July 2021


Project 7: Gene silencing in fish eggs (HAFOGVATN – Reykjavik - Iceland)

Application deadline: The potential of a novel gene silencing technique (non-GMO) to prevent sexual maturation will be explored for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Preventing sexual maturation may be a remedy against genetic introgression from farmed salmon in wild fish salmon. A molecular transporter, Vivo, can carry the Morpholino oligomer across the chorion of fish eggs, enter the embryo and reach target cells. This causes primordial germ-cell mis-migration and differentiation into somatic cells and arrested development of germ cells. The method has been found to produce a generation of infertile zebrafish. Furthermore, the bath-immersion technology has given promising results in rainbow trout (84% sterility) and will now be tested for the first time on Atlantic salmon. With gene silencing we intend to fully develop the method where >98% sterility is achieved and that the method can be used on a commercial scale based on protocols from the project. The project will include grow-out experiments on an experimental scale as well as assessing the exploitation potential at industrial scale (secondment MG) for proof of concept.

PI: Ragnar Johannsson [ragnar.johannsson(at)hafogvatn.is]

Application deadline: 1 May 2021


Project 8: Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (BMRS – Bantry - Ireland)

Seaweed, lumpfish and sea urchin will be assessed for their performance in poly-culture in Bantry Bay, SW Ireland. Testing criteria will include environmental parameters, growth, food conversion ratio and health and welfare of co-cultured species. The impact of microbial processes in IMTA performance will be assessed in collaboration with Wageningen University. The performance of each system will be compared with previous mono-culture data. The IMTA systems will be evaluated to determine the practicality and applicability of the new infrastructure and species mix chosen. Also, the effect of each of the systems on the environment, the quality and production of the cultured organisms and the time/effort and cost involved will be assessed and compared with the unmodified situation. The successful student will have a background in marine biology/aquaculture and work well in a multidisciplinary team. They should be confident in both analytical lab and running field experiments. Hatchery experience (echinoderm or other shellfish or seaweed) and experience in productivity measurements will be an advantage.

PI: Julie Maquire [jmaguire(at)bmrs.ie]

Application deadline has passed.


Project 9: Market opportunities, consumer segmentation, perception and communication strategies of aquaculture products (Aarhus University, Denmark)

Based on analysis of consumer perceptions and preferences, a cross-cultural segmentation study will be conducted and form the basis for determining market opportunities, with a particular focus on aquaculture products based on lower trophic levels, such as marine plants and marine invertebrates (in collaboration with BMRS), that up to now are related to as ‘less’ tasteful. With point of departure based on attractiveness of consumer food-related life-style segments, new and targeted communication strategies will be tested in order to examine how consumers perceive messages, and how new aquaculture products are perceived, accepted and provide market opportunities. This will be done via surveys as well as experimental ‘set-ups’ such as conjoint analysis and testing of reactions to different stimuli in collaboration with retail Partner Organisation CG. All together this will contribute to estimations of market opportunities of new aquaculture products. An exploitation plan for aquacultured seaweeds and marine invertebrates will be made in collaboration with ABSint.

This position is also separately advertised at euraxess: https://au.career.emply.com/en/ad/phd-special-call-three-year-phd-positi...

PI: Karen Brunso [kab(at)mgmt.au.dk]

Application deadline: May 18th.2021


Project 10: Analysis of market position of differentiated aquaculture products and associated public perception (University of Western Brittany – Brest - France)

A broad study of economic scenarios and consumer perception of diversified aquaculture produce will be explored to assess the market potential of premium class, organic and/or otherwise certified products. The poultry sector with a diversified market with respect to certifications related to animal welfare and environmental impact will serve as reference (in collaboration with partner organisation SYSAAF). For aquaculture produce, the focus will be on salmon and different sectors along the value chain (from fisheries and aquaculture producers (MG) via processing companies, wholesalers, retailers (CG) to direct marketing to mobile fishmongers and restaurants) will be explored. These analyses also include long-term predictions about the viability of certain products, for example premium or organically farmed salmon products. Particular attention will be paid to the perceptions and social acceptance of production systems (including the use of sterilised salmon) quality of the products and labelling schemes.

PI: Bertrand Le Gallic [bertrand.legallic(at)univ-brest.fr]. Applications to: elena.fily(at)univ-brest.fr

Application deadline: 30 April 2021


Project 11: Capturing the value of marine aquaculture (ABS-int – Bruges - Belgium)

Ground-breaking science is no guarantee for successful valorisation of research results. Turning a research result into a product or process that can be profitable requires a number of actions that are not related to science as such, yet are linked to for instance finance, marketing and business partnerships. The ESR will look at existing successful aquaculture companies (e.g. MG and ARC), and assess how they implement innovation. However, we will also interview key staff of ventures that were not successful in order to understand the risk factors of the aquaculture business. A business model canvas will be completed for a set of companies from different sections of the aquaculture value chain and common elements will be identified (in collaboration with associated industrial platforms EATIP and the Federation of Norwegian Industries (through Advisory Board memberships of Iciar Martinez and Petter Arnesen) and partner organisation SYSAAF). All of the results will be compiled in a set of guidelines on valorisation for aquaculture researchers and implemented in The Case in the EATFish training programme. Specific innovation scenarios based on ESR research proposals from WP2 will be assessed for their valorisation potential: e.g. probiotics (WU, ESR2), aquaculture feed innovations (WU, ESR1, CCMAR), in collaboration with ESR2 WU) and potential other valorisation opportunities that will be identified in EATFish. Finally, the ESR will explore innovative finance structures to combine offshore aquaculture licenses with other blue growth activities. More specifically, we will focus on offshore wind farms of partner organisation CG, and produce a case study for how a multi-use concession zone could be financed for large scale wind, aquaculture and nature conservation purposes.

PI: Thomas Vanagt [thomas.vanagt(at)abs-int.eu]

Application deadline: 1 June 2021


Project 12: Model-based assessment of ecosystem services in aquaculture (Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences - Research Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture (HAKI) - Szarvas - Hungary)

Mapping and measuring ecosystem services (e.g. maintenance of biodiversity, nutrient removal, carbon sequestration and storage, etc.) of extensive aquaculture technologies are considered to be vital in formulating policies and regulations affecting the development of the European fish farming sector. Within this PhD topic, mapping and model-based assessment of pond aquaculture and other low-trophic farming practices are planned to be undertaken. Work is planned to start on the basis of already developed assessment frameworks (e.g. 4-step MAES framework of EC). Emphasis will be put on selecting and delineating case study sites, as definition of appropriate system boundaries is still a challenge. For the case study sites, utilizing PPS modelling framework, a combined model describing quantitative biophysical processes and qualitative features, will be implemented. The applied framework makes possible the integrated assessment of quantitative variables in combination with qualitative data derived from stakeholder perception. GIS modules for integration of field data into prognosis and estimation maps are planned to be utilized to present results. The prospective PhD student is expected to have flexibility to work in a multidisciplinary team. Experience in wetland ecology/mechanistic modelling/GIS software (QGIS, ArcGIS) would be an advantage.

PI: Gergó Gyalog [Gyalog.Gergo.Sandor(at)uni-mate.hu]

Application deadline: 15 May 2021


Project 13: Societal perception of aquaculture in Europe (University of Stirling, UK)

Within Europe, perceptions of aquaculture have often been seen to be ill-informed leading to lack of social license that has hampered interest in, and growth of the sector. This is despite the rise of certification and ever stricter regulations at national and EU levels that have supported the sector to make real strides in sustainability. In parallel , however, appetites for European farmed seafood internationally have become an important part of the growth that has occurred, particularly in rapidly growing economies where seafood is a dietary staple. Furthermore, and largely as an outcome of the technical innovation in the salmon sector, a major market for aquaculture related products and services has developed supporting growth in aquaculture outside of Europe and where the practice is growing most rapidly. This project will conduct a global analysis of the drivers for the trade, assessing the role of the governance in place in Europe in affecting consumers perceptions of seafood value internationally. Value chain and Life Cycle Analyses will be used in tandem to assess benefits and sustainability credentials. The impacts of innovation in both EU and the overseas markets will be investigated to assess threats and further opportunities for future mutually beneficial trade.

PI: Dave Little [d.c.little(at)stir.ac.uk]

Application deadline: 1 May 2021


Project 14: Improved aquaculture governance to enhance sustainability through the use of decision support systems (University of Stirling, UK)

Decision support tools and frameworks will be refined, based on existing systems developed for H2020 project Tapas, for a number of EATFish aquaculture case studies. Different types of aquaculture systems ranging from intensive e.g. land-based recirculating aquaculture systems at WU and commercial farms of MG) to extensive (e.g. offshore farming at multi-use platforms by Partner Organisation CG, integrated multi-trophic aquaculture at BMRS, fresh-water pond farming at NARIC) and management practices (e.g. use of veterinary medicinal products) will be investigated for their environmental impact using tools such as life cycle assessment. In addition, the environmental impact of dual use (e.g. offshore windfarms + aquaculture) will be assessed and compared to single use. Guidelines for spatial modelling of site selection and suitability will be developed taking into account physical, social, production and ecological carrying capacity to ensure sustainability of the site during initial production and expansion. Then, it will be assessed how sustainability can be linked to economic feasibility (WP3) and potential technological innovations (WP2) and international accreditation standards, and national licensing procedures to synthesise a policy advise on European aquaculture.

PI: Trevor Telfer [t.c.telfer(at)stir.ac.uk]

Application deadline: 1 May 2021


Project 15: Determining the role of marine spatial planning in aquaculture development (University College Cork, Ireland)

Maritime Spatial Planning is at the initial stages of implementation across the EU, with all coastal member states legally required to have MSP in place by 2021. Aquaculture is one of the sectors that can be included in MSP, according to Article 8 (Directive 2014/89/EU) but different approaches to planning across the EU mean that in some countries aquaculture planning is addressed through terrestrial spatial planning systems whereas in others it may be incorporated into marine planning systems. This project will explore the systems already in place, how these interact with each other, how consenting/licensing outcomes are influenced by extant planning systems, and if there are differences between nearshore and offshore aquaculture production as a result of planning processes. The project will include engaging with industry stakeholders, such as Partner Organisation CG who operates offshore windfarms, and competent authorities to establish how they have or will include aquaculture in their Maritime Spatial Plans. It will be determined what planning model best facilitates current aquaculture development. In addition, all the findings will then be used to make recommendations on how spatial planning could best be used to facilitate European aquaculture development in future and how these can be aligned with other maritime/aquatic activities.

For more information see: https://www.ucc.ie/en/hr/vacancies/research/full-details-1304909-en.html

PI: Anne Marie O’Hagan [A.OHagan(at)ucc.ie] (Applications to: Ms Grainne Lynch, grainne.lynch@ucc.ie)

Application deadline: 18 May 2021


More Information


3-year full-time employment contract will be issued in accordance with the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action regulations for Early Stage Researchers. The successful candidates will receive an attractive salary in accordance with the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) regulations for early stage researchers and will include a mobility allowance.

Eligibility criteria


ITN offers funding for early-stage researchersonly. To be eligible for recruitment within an ITN project, you therefore must –at the date of recruitment –be within the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of your research career and not have a doctoral degree. Full-time equivalent research experience is measured from the date when you obtained the degree entitling you to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained, or in the country in which you are recruited), even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged. You may therefore be required to provide documentation proving your eligibility for recruitment.

Mobility Rule

The MSCA are a researcher mobility programme. You are therefore required to undertake transnational mobility in order to be eligible for recruitment in an ITN project. As such, you must not have resided or carried out your main activity (e.g. work, studies) in the country where you have been recruited "for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date". Holidays are not counted. Your employer is required to verify this fact, therefore you may be required to provide supporting documentation proving your place(s) of residence or work during the previous 3 years. Note that the mobility rule applies only to your first recruitment within the project, and not to other organisations to which you might be sent on secondment or at which you may subsequently also be recruited. Finally, the mobility rule is related to your residence or main activity and not to your nationality.

Selection process

Applicants must include their CV, detailed academic transcripts in the form of certified copies of all undergraduate and postgraduate level certificates, a motivation letter to the institution of the project of interest (see individual vacancy descriptions for details). Applicants must have an ability to understand and express themselves in both written and spoken English to a level that is sufficiently high for them to derive the full benefit from the network training. Candidates must provide evidence that they fulfil the specific University recruitment criteria.

Pre-selection: will be based on CV, experience, skills and motivation letter.

Interviews: Short-listed candidates will be interviewed.

Offer Requirements

    Other: Master Degree or equivalent
    OTHER: Good


The candidate must have a degree in a relevant discipline to the project of interest (see individual project descriptions)

Specific Requirements

Specific requirements are listed for individual projects.

For all projects we ask:

  1. Excellent organisational skills, the ability to manage a varietyof tasks simultaneously, and to organise and prioritise own work withtraining schedule
  2. Excellent communication skills with clear evidence of effectivepresentation skills, report-writing skills, and the ability to converse authoritatively and persuasively with a range of stakeholders at all levels
  3. The ability and willingness to travel regularly (restrictions permitting)

Work location(s)
15 position(s) available at
Wageningen University

EURAXESS offer ID: 612306


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