Updated 20/07/23

International Joint Laboratory (IJL)

2022 - 2026

South Africa


Access to diverse, nutritious, safe, and affordable food is crucial to addressing malnutrition. Seafood is a vital source of essential nutrients and contributes to food and nutrition security in many countries. However, it is largely missing from key food policy dialogues. In this sense, the need of reframing seafood as food - instead of as a natural resource - has been recognized and several key research topics, such as nutrition-sensitive approaches to seafood production, have been identified.

For the past three decades, global wild seafood catch has remained relatively unchanged and aquaculture production has strongly increased during this period of time to satisfy the demands of a growing world population and already surpasses that of wild seafood. Even though the environmental performance of aquaculture has shown positive trends over the last 20 years, further research efforts are necessary to allow aquaculture to overcome its sustainability challenges, such as reducing the use of marine resources for feeding farmed species, limiting habitat degradation or improving disease management.

Although the African aquaculture production, mostly based on freshwater aquaculture, has grown rapidly in the last decades, it only accounts for ca. 3% of the world’s production. Despite being the second largest continent on Earth, Africa currently has one of the lowest marine aquaculture productions in the world.

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© IRD - Cécile Bégard

Abalone bred at the marine research aquarium, in Cape Town, South Africa.


The IJL LIMAQUA (lima means to cultivate in Xhosa, a language from Southern Africa) conducts an interdisciplinary research and training programme to tackle nutritional and sustainability challenges of marine aquaculture and seeks to lay the foundations of a regional centre of excellence in sustainable, nutrition-sensitive marine aquaculture to contribute to food and nutrition security, poverty alleviation, and income creation in the region.

More precisely, the project pursues the following specific scientific objectives:

  • To develop sustainable marine aquaculture practices for target species, including research on sustainable culture technologies, sustainable nutrition, welfare and health of farmed organisms and farming systems (i.e. One Health approach) and aquaculture-environment interactions;
  • To develop an integrated approach to marine aquaculture;
  • To develop aquaculture-based food and nutritional products;
  • To provide capacity-building & training;
  • To foster South-South collaborations within Africa, by capitalizing on the tight interconnection between LIMAQUA and AfriMAQUA.

LIMAQUA gathers an interdisciplinary team of scientists specializing in biology, biotechnology, socio-economics, food science and human nutrition. The research and training activities are grounded in the Sustainability Science with a multi-actor approach, including academia, government, industry, and civil society.

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© Viking aquaculture

Feeding kelp to abalone at Buffeljags farm.


  • Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), South Africa
  • University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa
  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), South Africa
  • University of Western Cape (UWC), South Africa
  • University of Fort Hare (UFH), South Africa
  • University of Pretoria (UP), South Africa
  • North-West University (NWU), South Africa
  • University of Johannesburg (UJ), South Africa
  • Stellenbosch University (SU), South Africa
  • Rhodes University (RU), South Africa
  • Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), South Africa
  • Centre of Excellence in Food Security, South Africa
  • Joint Research Unit : MARine Biodiversity, Exploitation and Conservation (UMR MARBEC), France
  • Joint Research Unit : Integrated approach to food quality (UMR QualiSud), France
  • Joint Research Unit : Centre for Law and Economics of the Sea (UMR AMURE), France
  • Joint Research Unit : Nutrition, Metabolism, Aquaculture (UMR NuMeA), France
  • Joint International Unit : Centre for study of Globalisation, Conflicts, Territories and Vulnerabilities (UMI SOURCE), France
  • Joint Research Unit : Laboratory of Integrative Biology of Marine Models (UMR LBI2M), France
  • Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Center, Institut Agro, France
  • Laboratory of Genetics and Pathology of Marine Molluscs (Ifremer, LGPMM), France
  • Continuing Education Service of the University of Montpellier (SFC-UM), France
  • French National Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), France

Scientific coordination: Maria Darias, IRD - UMR MARBEC, France and Brett Macey, DFFE, South Africa.



French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD)

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