The project “R+D+I TOWARDS AQUAPONIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE UP ISLANDS AND THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY-ISLANDAP” is a project belonging to the INTERREG V-A MAC 2014-2020 program (Operating/al Program on International cooperation) and funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Project description

The project “R + D + i TOWARDS AQUAPONIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE UP ISLANDS AND THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY-ISLANDAP” is a project belonging to the INTERREG VA MAC Program 2014-2020 (Operational Program of international cooperation) and financed by the European Regional Development Fund . It is a Territorial Cooperation program whose overall strategic objective is to obtain significant and tangible progress in transnational cooperation in order to favor the cohesive, sustainable and balanced territorial development of the Atlantic Area and its maritime heritage.


1.Aquaculture among the Priority Areas of Intelligent Development (RIS3-Canarias).

2.Sustainable growth, agricultural activities and food security among the priorities of investment in the Ultraperipheral Islands.

3.Aquaponics, aquaculture systems of sustainable production in which aquaculture and hydroponics (fish and plants in closed circuit) are combined, where water savings (up to 75%) and alternative energies play an important role, thus covering several of the investment objectives in the smart growth of the outermost regions.

4.The reduction of organic waste, its control, revaluation and alternative applications is another of the challenges to cover in the short term in the regions.

5.Tourism represents the main source of income in the UP Islands, as well as one of the sectors with the highest generation of organic waste.

6.Europe recognizes the important role of aquaponics by financing a COST-FA1305 action; 2014-2018, of which 27 European and Canary Islands are part, participates as a member of Management. Commitee.

7.The archipelagos of the ORs (Canary Islands, Madeira and Cape Verde) are interested in participating in collaborative R + D + i for the interregional development of the indicated lines.


To promote R & D & i in sustainable aquaponic production appropriate to the specificities of the Region, and to create a multidisciplinary work network that promotes sustainable primary production, the revalorization of biorecursos, biotechnology, the circular economy and education in these areas.


Aquaponics production of fish and plants will be the central axis of development and an example of direct application of the circular economy, in regions where the generation of organic by-products is variable and dispersed and its re-use is uncompetitive at present. The aim is to provide solutions for alternative uses, addressing all the steps, from the generation and quantification of the waste, to its biochemical evaluation and experimental testing, through the necessary micrologistics for its movement and economic study of the entire process.




Strengthen R & D & I capacities in aquaponic systems of sustainable production, through the creation of joint research platforms, positioning the RUPs favorably in innovation in the primary sector and food security and their participation in competitive projects.

Competitive improvements in aquaponics production in the RUP Islands. Cross-border and transnational cooperation actions between universities and R & D centers for the exchange and joint training of research personnel to facilitate participation in European projects.

Creation of an Interregional Network in Circular Economy for R + D + i in sustainable development, circular economy and aquaponics, which also serves as support in the generation of innovative solutions in the management and alternative uses of organic by-products.

Other objectives are: to enhance research, technological development and innovation, improve the competitiveness of SMEs, promote adaptation to climate change and prevention and risk management, as well as to conserve and protect the environment and promote the efficiency of resources.

Geographical scope of project intervention

The geographical area of intervention and cross-border and transnational cooperation of this activity includes the regions of Madeira (Portugal), the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands (Spain), and Cape Verde. The action will be coordinated by one of the research centers of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands (University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria), in close collaboration with others from the same and other regions. Each of the partners will be responsible for one of the activities of the project.

The geographical scope has been extended to other European countries, geographically other Atlantic islands (England and Ireland) that due to their previous experience in the proposed theme and participation in the European Cost network are considered important in the advice, accompaniment and internationalization of the proposal and  results.

Technical description of the project content

The project has been designed in 3 consecutive phases:

Creation of experimental pilot teams of freshwater and marine aquaponics in different archipelagos of the ORs and carrying out specific tests of fish and vegetable production in each one. It contemplates the definition of fish species and plants with crop potential; the determination of products and subproducts of the primary sector susceptible of revaluation with the central objective of promoting their main use as raw materials for animal feed; the formulation and testing of sustainable diets of local production in each region; activities led by each partner with the Aquaculture Research Group (ULPGC-GIA) in collaboration.
Improvement of the competitiveness of aquaponic production systems through the control of parameters and tests in hydroponics applied to aquaponics (ICIA); control and assessment of the use of microalgae in aquaponic systems (ITC); application of alternative energies, TIC’s and water saving according to geographical zones (ULPGC-INGENIERÍA).
Creation of a permanent multidisciplinary work network (ULPGC-ECONOMÍA) in Circular Economy.

The project, its implementation and results will be useful in its regions of action for the following main reasons:

Improvement of R & D & I capacities in strategic development areas of the ORs (outermost regions), such as environmental sustainability, sustainable primary production, aquaculture and food security.
Other priority areas associated with the sustainable development of aquaponic systems are addressed, such as the revaluation of products and by-products of the primary sector
Specialized training of scientific-technical personnel in all the above areas
The creation and operation of pilot research prototypes in freshwater and marine aquaponics
The use of prototypes for the promotion and dissemination of sustainability, sustainable management of resources, energy and water, environmental education and the generation of local food in a sustainable and safe way
The internationalization of R + D + i in strategic areas of the ORs.

Main beneficiaries of the project

Universities and R & D Centers that will see their knowledge and technologies strengthened in emerging research areas at a global level, improving their positioning in the face of future projects.
Companies, which will be responsible for putting this knowledge into value, generating wealth and employability in the Region.
Regional centers of organization in matters of sustainability, environmental management and primary production that will have greater support in R & D + i institutions.
The general population that will have access to the results and applications of the project through training and dissemination actions that will promote sustainability, the sustainable use of resources, the reduction of organic waste and its revaluation, saving water and energy , sustainable primary production, awareness of the maintenance of natural resources and biodiversity of the regions and environmental sustainability and tourism.