Sustainability, innovation emerging theme at Aqua Nor 2019
By Mari-Len De Guzman
TRONDHEIM, Norway – Global sustainability advocates are touting the role technology innovation will play in the aquaculture industry to solve the growing global environmental and food security challenges.
At the opening ceremony of Aqua Nor 2019, Liv Holmefjord, chairman of the board of the Nor-Fishing Foundation, noted some of the technology innovations being featured at this year’s event, including artificial intelligence and IoT, as well as the “Research Plaza” where research, innovation and educational institutions converge, offering a one-stop show for all the latest research and innovations being showcased at Aqua Nor.
“As in many other industries, the use of artificial intelligence and Internet of Things might improve and change the way we work,” Holmefjord said.
Arni Methiesen, assistant director general in the fisheries and aquaculture division of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, highlighted some of the challenges for the aquaculture industry, including the reduction and eventual elimination of aquaculture’s reliance on terrestrial agriculture to produce feeds.
“The general state of terrestrial soil is poor and these are essentially resources that can be used to feed human beings,” Mathiesen said. “Instead, we need to design systems that utilise sunlight for primary production in the upper plankton layers of the oceans through production of feeds through phytoplankton, micro- and macro-algae, zooplankton and marine bacteria.”
The UN official also noted the need for the industry to move away from the practice of “feeding fish to fish,” and using high quality protein to produce high quality protein, alluding to the conventional process in aquaculture of using fishmeal as a primary ingredient for fish feed.
“These are not easy things to do but looking back and observing our innovations and the advances we have made, even just in my lifetime, and I am not particularly old yet, I am sure we can do it,” Mathieson said.
A combination of technology innovations – land-based, near-shore and offshore farming – will be needed for aquaculture to remain sustainable, remarked Herald Tom Nesvik, Norway’s minister of Fisheries.
“We have to create an international understanding of the need for more sustainable use of the ocean,” Nesvik said. “To succeed we have to combine the knowledge we have gained throughout history with innovation, new technology and research.”
Aqua Nor is held every two years in Trondheim, Norway. This year marks 40 years since the first event. Nearly 700 exhibitors from 26 countries. Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, was the guest of honour at the opening ceremony. A record number of 27,000 people from 76 countries attended the 2017 Aqua Nor, and Holmefjord expects this year’s attendees will be close to its 2017 numbers.