Background paper on aquaculture research

Axel Wenblad, Alfred Jokumsen, Unto Eskelinen, Ole Torrissen

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The Board of MISTRA established in 2012 a Working Group (WG) on Aquaculture
to provide the Board with background information for its upcoming decision on
whether the foundation should invest in aquaculture research. The WG included
Senior Advisor Axel Wenblad, Sweden (Chairman), Professor Ole Torrissen, Norway, Senior Advisory Scientist Unto Eskelinen, Finland and Senior Advisory Scientist Alfred Jokumsen, Denmark. The WG performed an investigation of the Swedish aquaculture sector including interviews with a range of stakeholders within aquaculture research, farming organisations, authorities, NGOs and the Ministry of Rural Affairs. The term aquaculture corresponds to the Swedish term Vattenbruk. Aquaculture is the cultivation of fish, shellfish or plants in fresh water (FW) or sea water (SW). Aquaculture has become the fastest growing food producing sector currently producing totally about 80 million tonnes accounting for close to 50 % of all aquatic food destined for the global human consumption.
The Swedish aquaculture production currently includes about 11,000 tonnes
rainbow trout in FW and SW, 1,100 tonnes arctic char (FW), 90 tonnes eel (FW),
1,500 tonnes mussels (SW) and a few tonnes of crayfish altogether corresponding
to a total value of SEK 328 million in 2011. Further about 1,000 tonnes of fish and crustaceans were produced for restocking as well as about 3 million fry of salmon and trout were released into rivers. Swedish aquaculture research was overall assessed to be of very high quality and highly acknowledged at international level. However, integration of the research issues with the main stakeholders in the aquaculture sector needs focus; i.e. integration
of the political frameworks, regional administrations, the aquaculture producers
and the research groups on aquaculture. A closer connection and dialogue between the stakeholders may be facilitated through the regional aquaculture centres interconnected through the National Competence Centre for Aquaculture, and the National Aquaculture Council being established. These structures may create a common and focused platform for cooperation on research and education, exchange and transfer of knowledge from research to aquaculture practice. Further, integration of biological and technological research combined with education and training of skilled professionals as well as authority staff dealing with aquaculture is strongly called upon. Hence, a strong integration of the stakeholders within the aquaculture sector is assessed to be an important platform for a trans-disciplinary research and development program for strategic and efficient development of Swedish Aquaculture. Sweden has large potentials for aquaculture due to the availability of vast water resources of good quality (both marine and fresh water), a high veterinary status and generally well developed public infrastructure. Swedish aquaculture has the potential to develop into a green business producing environmentally sustainable healthy food with low ecosystem and climate impact. Swedish import of aquaculture
products may be reduced by increased domestic production. Further Swedish
aquaculture may be a driving force in the development of employment, infrastructures and improvement of economic and social conditions in rural areas. Swedish 4 • mistra aquaculture has the potential to contribute significantly to food security. It is therefore important that aquaculture becomes an integrated part of the food production system, i.e. being accepted as an equal food producing sector in line with the agricultural sector.Innovative development of Swedish aquaculture requires production systems with minimal environmental impact, e.g. recirculation technology, efficient feeds and waste management. Although the nutrient-poor hydropower dams in northern Sweden may tolerate nutrient load the strategy for the required development of Swedish aquaculture has to include technologies and strategies to minimize the environmental impact, in particular to the Baltic Sea. Swedish aquaculture may develop to be an environmental service, which may be exported. The governmental policy on aquaculture should reflect the conclusions of the official report Det växande vattenbruket and the strategy Svenskt vattenbruk – en grön näring på blå åkrar, Strategi 2012–2020. Implementing the strategy will require a real management of aquaculture that secures the balance between responsibility for the environment and development of aquaculture production. For a significant and powerful Swedish aquaculture to develop, strong and committing policy instruments should be coordinated and managed. This means that the strategy for aquaculture needs to be followed by a long term focused research policy on aquaculture and responsibility for putting it into force as well as availability
of adequate funding from national and international sources (e.g. EMFF,
research councils, EU, Nordic and BONUS). Finally, the financial sector should be
made more confident with aquaculture to facilitate investments in aquaculture.
The integration of environmental, economic and social sustainability is essential
for the development of a dynamic Swedish aquaculture industry. Research should
include basic and applied aquaculture research integrated with resilience science
and take a food systems approach considering relevant aspects of the food chain
between farm and fork (e.g. producers, food industry, retail and consumers).
Aiming to enable a progressive change of the Swedish aquaculture sector the
Working Group recommends that MISTRA establishes a research program on aquaculture including: 1. Global ecosystem aspects of aquaculture production including diversification, production systems, species, products, etc. 2. Environmental efficient production with trapping of solid waste and balanced
nutrient management (recirculation technology, waste heat/green
energy/integrated production systems). 3. Policy instruments: legislation, economic incentives, socioeconomic
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationStockholm
Number of pages80
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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