There are two sides to everything – two sides of a coin, two versions of a story, the good and the bad, the yin and the yang, so what’s the deal with tech? There is a running assumption that technology was developed for the good of humanity, but now that we have it, we have seen the double edge-sword of power.
On one hand, we have the fastest access to information right at our fingertips, connecting people from all areas of the world. On the other hand, we have experienced how addictive devices and apps are, comparisons, and the withdrawal from society.
But let’s look at this from the viewpoint of aquaculture. Technology has improved the state of farms by providing important data, statistics, accessibility to information, the ability to improve animal welfare and so on.
Since farmed fish has taken a bigger slice of our seafood choices, also because of the decrease in wild fish populations, integrated technology-based solutions bring the potential for reliable sources of information that promote eco-intensification and efficient fish farming. So, tech is not so bad, if used properly.
Sustainable farming sometimes seems like an unreachable glamorous idea. How do you feed almost 8 billion people in a sustainable way when we already know that habitats are being lost, species are going extinct, water resources are running out, etc. It seems like a fantasy.
But on a smaller scale, this may be possible. Using the ocean as a farming seascape is a great opportunity, but how do we make sure that we do not farm the sea in the same destructive way we have farmed the dry lands?
I recently worked on a project with the aim of intensifying fish and shellfish farms while improving animal welfare, all in an environmentally friendly way. This too seems like a glamorous idea. But with the help of local fishermen, scientists, software developers and, of course, you the consumer, this can be made possible.
Fundamentally, we need to realize that we do not function alone in this world, we are all part of a ‘bigger something’ that pulses and beats together, connected in one way or another. Two birds that communicate through songs, Blue Whales and Penguins that both eat krill, migrations, the metamorphosis and shedding of exoskeletons, the oxygen we breathe, the light we see, and the arms and legs that move us – we are all connected, and sustainability IS reachable is when we understand this connection.
Next 9th of December (1:00PM – 2:00PM GMT) the first seminar in the Big Fish Series, co-organized by GAIN partner University of Stirling, will take place. ALT seafood, plant-based, fermentation-derived and cell-based seafood, is emerging with the potential to help meet the growing seafood demand, but has attracted a mixed reaction by a range of stakeholders.
The format of these seminars is a short presentation of the key issues followed by an interactive discussion with a diverse panel of experts with opportunities for real time Q&A with registered participants.
This seminar will be co-hosted by WorldFish, a nonprofit research and innovation institution that conducts scientific research on aquatic food systems with transformational impact on human well-being and the environment. Its research data, evidence and insights shape better practices, policies and investment decisions for sustainable development in low- and middle-income countries.
As part of the preparatory work for the new aquatic foods program, WorldFish has conducted exploratory future-looking research on alternative seafood and its implications for food and nutrition security, livelihoods and the environment in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
Aquatic foods are an integral part of the global food system that contribute significantly to food and nutrition security and livelihoods, particularly throughout low- and middle-income countries. The global supply of aquatic foods comes from capture fisheries and aquaculture, but there is concern about sustainability of the industry and its ability to meet future needs and demands.
WorldFish has identified priority research questions that need to be addressed to evaluate the alternative seafood sector and its potential implications, opportunities and challenges for food and nutrition security, livelihoods and the environment over the next decade in low- and middle-income countries.
Yesterday we launched the official GAIN project Youtube channel:
The GAIN project aims are to promote the eco-intensification of aquaculture. But what does this mean?
To sustainably farm more fish in the same area, i.e. to make more with less! With the combination of precision aquaculture, improved feeds and re-using secondary products while reducing waste, we aim to grow a healthier and environmentally friendlier fish.
A goodfish: tasty, nutritious, sustainable and happy.
To define this ’goodfish‘ we need to understand its economic and environmental sustainability, welfare as well as its nutritional and taste qualities. This way we can support consumers and businesses with metrics based on good data that compare seafood options and guide good choices.
This is the end game of GAIN: to help provide more and better seafood for the future.
The latest GAIN project developments on the impacts of eco-intensification innovations, found that novel feeds with commercially available emerging ingredients, could lead to farm profitability losses in most cases. This was especially true for diets combining different emerging ingredients, and in diets with smaller amounts of processed animal proteins (PAP) in addition to these new ingredients.
The most pronounced losses were found for seabream production. This was partly due to the decreased feed conversion rates when using novel feeds. The already high feed costs per kg of fish produced, when compared with trout and salmon, was also a factor in profitability losses. PAP feeds, however, were more promising from an economic point of view, especially for Atlantic salmon production.
These results illustrate the demand for more affordable alternative ingredients, such as the upcoming GAIN-developed by-products. Consumer willingness-to-pay for more sustainable grown fish might also play a significant role in order for producers to stay profitable or to reach break-even.
Room for improvement was also identified for the valorisation of fish and shellfish by-products, especially for species with lower production volume and market-share of processed products, such as carp. The costs and benefits of the next generation of novel GAIN feeds, focused in adding value to by-products and side streams will be addressed in the upcoming work within the project.
After the conference it was time to go into the field and meet some of the farmers in the center and north of the country. This area of Poland is relatively flat with some hills, and large water bodies, making it an excellent habitat for carp. In late February farmers are preparing to move their fish into ‘production ponds’, which they will occupy until the next winter. At that time carps are transferred to deep (approximately 2.5m) ponds to hibernate. This cycle is repeated in the second year until the fish reach a harvesting size of 1.5 kg to 2 kg.
The carp sector faces many challenges, such as strict regulations, predators and consumer preference for other fish. Despite that, there are also many opportunities, such as better carp processing into multiple products and eco-intensification using novel formulated feeds. GAIN is exploring the sector to assess the impact of different innovations to support the sustainable growth of the industry: we are also looking forward to contribute and collaborate with everyone involved in the sector.
On February 17thUoS colleagues arrived in Poland to start data collection on the carp aquaculture value chain together with Polish partners from ZUT. The main goal is to gain insight into industry practices and collect value chain and life cycle assessment data from Polish carp farming value chain.
ZUT has a large network in the sector and proposed to meet the industry players at the 25th National Conference of Carp Breeders and Training for Fish Producers. This event took place between the 19th and 21st of February 2020 in Slok, a small town in the centre of Poland- this was an excellent opportunity to talk with stakeholders and introduce them to the GAIN project.
The Polish carp sector is considered ‘extensive’: traditional, functioning in large ponds (few hectares up to a few hundred hectares) with low feed or other inputs, while also exposed to predation from birds and other wildlife – as a result, these ponds are characterized by their natural production capacity. Intensification strategies like pond fertilization and feed application (e.g. grains or formulated feeds) are uncommon. This natural and traditional way of producing carp dates back to the middle ages where monks constructed earthen ponds to provide food for the communities. Such carp farming systems are unique to Eastern Europe and produce only a small share of the global carp production.
The majority of carp is farmed in China, using different production systems, of which some are considered ‘intensive’ – with high stocking densities, pond fertilization and formulated feeds. Most of these ponds use polyculture strategies where multiple species maintain the balance in an ecosystem – waste of one species is used as a feed input for the other.
Richard Newton substituted Wenbo Zhang (unable to travel from China due to the Coronavirus) and willingly gave the presentation while providing some interesting insights in the development of aquaculture in China and in particular the diversity in Chinese carp farming systems. Polish carp farmers were curious about it.