Monday, February 19, 2018

20/02/2018: Technology plays in aquaculture

by Philippe de Lapérouse, HighQuest Consulting

Since 1960, global demand for seafood has increased 3.2 percent annually, outpacing the one percent annual growth in the world’s population over the same period. Per capita consumption of seafood during this period has increased from 10 kg to over 20 kg today. 

Image credit: High Quest Consulting
Overall demand for seafood protein is driven by demand in developing markets, particularly in Asia where fish has historically been a traditional source of protein in the diet, and in developed markets, due to the trend toward healthy lifestyles.

Given the restrictions on wild catch fisheries due to depleting wild fish populations, production of fish and seafood protein in farmed systems has increased substantially over the past decade to address the increasing demand. The eight percent growth in aquaculture production since 2010 is dramatic compared to the growth in production of land-based food animals (poultry, swine, and cattle).

Norway’s salmon industry – A model for leveraging technology
To meet this growing demand, the aquaculture industry is investing in the development and adoption of new technologies that will dramatically transform how fish and seafood protein are produced sustainably.

The development of the Norwegian salmon industry is recognised as a model for how new technologies can be leveraged to meet growing demand. Starting as a small-scale industry in the 1960s, the Norwegian salmon industry has emerged over the past 50 years as a world-class producer of salmon, with operations extending from Scandinavia to Chile, Scotland, Canada, and the Faroe Islands, that together export over one million metric tonnes of salmon products annually. This success was built on innovations in breeding (genetics), management systems, health products, and novel technology for production systems.

Technology clusters in Norway have developed solutions for addressing the limitations of oxygen in production systems, feed distribution, and disease control and treatment to increase the scale and efficiency of production sites. The industry also has shifted from using wooden cages to the current industry standard of polyethylene (PE) cages in open water, and is now beginning to adopt hinged-steel cages.

Furthermore, new cage designs have allowed for the circumference of cages to increase from 60 metres to 160 metres, resulting in a tenfold increase in production capacity for raising salmon in a single site.

As the salmon sector has grown, investment in R&D and new technologies has not been limited to addressing production capacity issues but also has focused on enhancing biosecurity capabilities (reduction of bio-fouling), improving feeding technology (design of open water feeding barges managed by remote control), enhancing fish welfare (control of parasites), improving gentle fish handling, and ensuring environmental stewardship.

The industry has focused on integrating knowledge between three core areas: the physical equipment (design and materials) used to farm seafood; operating systems leveraged to produce seafood; and intelligent management systems employed for coordinating the entire production system.

Read the full article, HERE.

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