Science - September 16, 2011

Aquaculture under one umbrella

The groups Aquaculture and fisheries (Wageningen University) and Aquaculture (Imares) are going to collaborate closely under the umbrella Wageningen Aquaculture. They hope this will make them very competitive. The new plans for collaboration will be made public during a symposium in Yerseke on 16 September.

'There has always been collaboration but it will be intensified', says Professor Johan Verreth of Aquaculture and Fisheries. In future there should be just one public face of the merged organizations. Internally, knowledge and facilities will be shared and decisions will be taken together about long-term goals. Henk van de Mheen, Aquaculture group leader at Imares: 'Between us, we really do cover the whole spectrum of aquaculture.' The idea is also to prevent the two groups from competing with each other. 'Verreth: 'In the last we sometimes got in each other's way.'
Verreth is not worried that his workgroup of about 25 scientists will be overshadowed in the collaboration with the larger organization, Imares. He points to the fact that the departments involved are roughly equal in size. Apparently talks are even going on with the fish and fisheries departments at Imares, about a similar knowledge network on fish. The merger is not motivated by a funding shortfall or other threats either, says Verreth. 'We could have carried on separately, but I have great expectations of this.' Van der Mheen thinks the time is ripe for more collaboration. He mentions in particular the bigger role of the business world in allocating public research funding. 'This makes us an interesting partner for companies.'