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The University Institute for Research in Sustainable Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (ECOAQUA®) is a scientific centre of excellence of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (official approval published in BOC on 23rd February, 2016).

It was born as a milestone of the European EcoAqua project, in which the European Union, through the ERA-Chair programme, sought to promote centres of excellence for research and innovation within the framework of the European Research Area (ERA). Within this project, the bases were developed to promote excellence in research, innovation and postgraduate training in aquaculture and in the conservation and sustainable use of coastal resources from an ecosystem approach, which have been growing towards other areas of knowledge.

At present, the University Institute ECOAQUA is a multidisciplinary Institute that encompasses 4 research groups (GIA, BIOCON, EOMAR and TOTMA) around blue growth policies and the circular economy, bringing together experts from different areas such as zoologists, botanists, physiologists, veterinarians, oceanographers, jurists, agronomists, pathologists, paleontologists, economists, etc., with expertise on cooperation and development of basic and applied research projects at regional, national and international level.

Organization chart

  • Ricardo J. Haroun Tabraue

    Director of the University Institute ECOAQUA

  • May Gómez Cabrera

    Deputy Director of the University Institute ECOAQUA

  • Adolfo Jiménez Jaén

    Secretary of the University Institute ECOAQUA

  • Rafael Ginés Ruiz

    Service manager of the University Institute ECOAQUA

  • Sadasivam Kaushik

    Honorary Director of the University Institute ECOAQUA


The organization and management of research activity is configured around four research groups:


  • Aquaculture research group (GIA)


    Juan Manuel Afonso López

  • Group in Biodiversity and Conservation (BIOCON)


    Fernando José Tuya Cortés

  • Marine Organisms Ecophysiology Group (EOMAR)


    May Gómez Cabrera

  • Group of Tourism, Territorial Planning and the Environment (TOTMA)


    Inmaculada Gónzalez Cabrera


Photo by Daniel Montero

Organisation and Cooperation 

The University Institute ECOAQUA contributes to the Development Cooperation through the work conducted by the Aquaculture Development Cooperation Group (CDA) from the ULPGC. Thus, the agreement of projects with public and private entities from numerous countries has facilitated the establishment of a platform for the transfer of technology and knowledge in aquaculture to non-industrialised countries, being able to perfom scientific-technical support plans for universities and R&D centres in third countries, as well as the development of technical aquaculture facilities in areas of great need.

Within this team, aquaculture viability analysis projects have been developed in Yemen, or in Africa at the Pilot Aquaculture and Training Centre in Bou Ismaïl (Algeria) as well as in Angola. In addition, the University Institute ECOAQUA has participated in the creation of a laboratory for research, technological development and training in aquaculture in Agadir (Morocco), and has provided training for postgraduates from Morocco, Senegal, Mauritania and Cape Verde, as well as specific courses for FAO, CIHEAM, etc. Currently, several projects are being developed on circular economy, aquaponics, with special emphasis on training women to perform sustainable activities related to the marine and coastal environment.


The ECOAQUA University Institute seeks, through its groups, to reach agreements with public administrations and private companies to help finance the development of research programmes that are useful in the economic and social sphere.

For example, the Aquaculture Research Group has achieved, in particular, the synchronisation between Biotechnology and Production Biology, with the aim of creating algorithms that have an impact on the production system of different marine species.

To this end, it has developed specific agreements, contracts and conventions to implement some of its programmes:

Technological Offer


Photo by Ángel Medina

The different groups of the ECOAQUA University Institute from ULPGC put their trust in technological innovation as an important part of the development of its lines of research. For this reason, they have collaborated in different programs that have allowed great advances in certain aspects.

In particular, the GIA group is involved in:

  • Designing of genetic selection programmes in aquaculture about marine species (fish, crustaceans and molluscs).
  • Designing of multiplexes for pathogen detection in marine organisms.
  • Designing of multiplexes of microsatellite markers for paternity diagnosis and genetic variability studies in marine organisms.

Furthermore, EOMAR, in collaboration with the SIANI Institute from ULPGC, has created a software: SMACC; which automatically allows counting and classifying microplastics.

Finally, the BIOCON group has developed INDIMAR, an informatic tool which includes relevant and updated data from the marine environment with the aim of locating the most appropriate areas for the development of the economic activity on the Canary marine areas, as part of the PLASMAR project.


The University Institute ECOAQUA is a research centre that belongs to the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a public institution that offers a wide range of degrees in all the major areas of knowledge, with the aim of providing comprehensive training to those who come to it, in a commitment based on innovation, quality and internationalisation.