Future prospects in aquaculture: the challenges in making aqaculture sustainable

15 August, Technoport visited Aqua Nor at Trondheim Spektrum, the world’s biggest aquaculture exhibition. Our day at Aqua Nor were exciting, and we learned about the future prospects in aquaculture, the challenges in making aquaculture sustainable, but also on how to solve these challenges.

Future prospects in Aquaculture
- Expressed in human consumption, we obtain 98 % from land-based production, and only 2 % from the sea, and there lies great business opportunities in the bio marine sector, said Karl A. Almås (CEO, SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture), when welcoming to the SINTEF seminar, “Future Prospects in Aquaculture Technology”. The seminar, happening during Aqua Nor, gathered industrial leaders in the Norwegian aquaculture industry, to speak about the possibilities and limitations for future growth in aquaculture.

Karl A. Almås, CEO at SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture, says there are great business opportunities in the bio marine sector Photo by: Thor Nielsen

The industrial leaders agreed that there are great possibilities for future growth in aquaculture; the carbon footprint of salmon is 8 times less than of beef, and is therefore more sustainable. However, the industry is also facing challenges. The speakers pointed to different challenges, saying that one for example needs to solve the sustainability issues.

One of the sustainability challenges is linked to the fish meal for farmed salmon. For the salmon to be a healthy product, it has to contain omega-3 fatty acids, in other words; fish oil. The problem is that the price and demand for fish oil increases, but the access of fish oil is not growing. Einar Wathne (CEO, EWOS), said there is a need to find alternatives to the fish oil in the fish meal. Another sustainability problem is sea lice. Farmed salmon with sea lice that runs away is a threat for the wild fish. Diseases the farmed salmon get is also a problem, and means production loss. Development of new vaccination is important here, Edel Anne Norderhuus, Research director in Pharmaq, said.

Trond Giske, the Minister of Trade and Industry, held a speech about Norway’s interests in the marin- and maritim sector under the seminar. Photo by: Thor Nielsen

To realise the possibilities in Aquaculture, one needs to solve the challenges, said Alf-Helge Aarskog (CEO, Marine Harvest). Several elements were mentioned to solve the problems, for example new technology, a closer tie between the operators and the technologists,  development of new vaccination, more researchers from Europe working on the challenges, and more recruitment of people to the aquaculture industry. The leaders also called for more agriculture area around the coast of Norway.

Ocean Forest – a project to make aquaculture sustainable

At Aqua Nor the environmental foundation, Bellona, and the fish farming company, Lerøy Seafood Group, presented the new company, Ocean Forest.  Later this fall, the new company will establish a test facility at Sotra in Hordaland, to test integrated aquaculture on a large scale.

Ocean Forest med vindmøller

An illustration of how Ocean Forrest might look like. Photo: Bellona

-The goal with Ocean Forest is to address aquaculture environmental challenges, help removing CO2 from the atmosphere, at the same time as creating economic value, said Fredric Hauge (president, Bellona) in a press release, during Aqua Nor. The company will do research on how ecological interactions between species can help to solve the environmental problems that farming operations create, and at the same time seek economic value by being in the driver’s seat when it comes to finding new sources of biomass and bioenergy.

Technoport is confident that aquaculture is one of the solutions to the worlds growing need for food, provided it is done in a sustainable way. Ocean Forest is an exciting initiative. We hope the collaboration between Bellona and Lerøy will contribute to solve the sustainability challenges that the aquaculture industry is facing, and make fish farming a green alternative to meat.

There were 480 different exhibitors at Aqua Nor, and 18 500 visitors, from 65 countries visited Aqua Nor 2013.

Photo by: Bellona (illustration of how the Ocean Forrest facilities migh look like)