Why the future of “blue revolution” concerns all of us

Havana, Cuba - September 25, 2015: Man fishing at sunset at Malecon,  most popular and famous sea fron promenade in Havana, Cuba. Fishing is very common hobby in Cuba but also way to earn extra cash.
Havana, Cuba - September 25, 2015: Man fishing at sunset at Malecon, most popular and famous sea fron promenade in Havana, Cuba. Fishing is very common hobby in Cuba but also way to earn extra cash.

Probably, sometimes we forget the importance of water not only for human beings but for any living species. Apart from all its basic functions, our food grows thanks to water. It carries our waste away and supports almost all of our productive activities.

According to World Water Development Report (WWDR), around 14% of the water is only used for domestic tasks (drinking, cooking, washing, etc.). On the other hand, 70% is used for growing food and fiber. The remaining 16% is used for industrial and energy purposes.

From here comes into play the important work of aquaculture that is rapidly overtaking traditional fishing. Through this blue revolution, we can adapt production to reach food safety, sustainability, and environmental awareness.

Moreover, consumer mentality is also changing. A 2018 GlobeScan study of 25,810 consumers in 22 countries said 70% of respondents are increasingly demanding independent, third-party verification of sustainability in supermarkets from seafood products.

So, how can we assure that this process is going in the right direction? WeAreAquaculture has contacted some of the most promising researchers and young professionals who are putting all their desire and efforts into not only making the blue revolution a reality but keeping us proud of it.

The Green Aquaculture Intensification in Europe

Wesley Malcorps, an expert in aquaculture, sustainability, and circular economy and Ph.D. researcher at the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, has shared with us the details of the Green Aquaculture Intensification in Europe (GAIN).

GAIN is designed to support the sustainable growth of European (EU+EEA) aquaculture. Malcorps's main focus is the strategic utilization of fish by-products, life cycle assessment (LCA), and value chain analysis (VCA).

He has found that a large proportion of commonly farmed species were being routinely wasted in industrial and household processing. As examples, are Atlantic salmon, European sea bass, gilthead sea bream, common carp, and turbot.

"Although fish by-products don't sound appetizing, they are full of goodness and can be used for many purposes. Including in food supply and diet supplements," he explains.

Therefore, he adds: "The results show a substantially higher total flesh yield (64–77%) can be achieved if fish are fully processed. Compared with fillet only (30–56%), as is often the case."

Wesley Malcorps – University of Stirling

Despite the GAIN project being finished, he is still active in other work related to the utilization of aquaculture processing by-products.

That is the reason why he advises focusing more on a re-evaluation of the potential. So, the supply of marine ingredients from under-utilized by-product resources can be increased. "It is crucial to accelerate the circular economy in the aquaculture industry in Europe and beyond", Malcorps concludes.

Blue Food Assessment

It makes sense that if we achieve a "blue revolution" it will be more possible to access the also desired "blue food". What we know as "blue foods" derive from aquatic animals, plants, or algae. To better manage the blue food sector, we need to collect more detailed data on production, consumption, and trade.

For this reason, the Blue Food Assessment initiative was born. Through periodic research and reports, it aims to fulfill the understanding of the role blue foods play in global food systems. For later, inform and drive change in the policies and practices.

Blue Food Assessment ad – Bue Food Assessment

According to the international joint initiative, the demand for "blue food" is expected to roughly double by 2050. Furthermore, without a shadow of a doubt places aquaculture expansion is the main supplier of this fact. Thus, supports sustainable aquaculture operations that "actively mitigate environmental risks and optimize for sustainable feeds".

The Blue Food Assessment brings together more than 100 leading researchers from more than 25 institutions around the world. Stanford University's Center for Ocean Solutions and Center on Food Security and the Environment and the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University are lead science partners.

"The global food system is failing billions of people," says assessment co-chair Rosamond Naylor, the William Wrigley Professor of Earth System Science at Stanford. "Blue foods can play a critical role in improving nutrition, livelihoods, and ecosystems," he insists.

The role of the companies

Just as important, companies must realize that they are not only places to work but also continuous learning centers. There, both employers and employees can continue to develop and make the change possible.

A good example is Biomar which organizes, along with NCE Seafood Innovation Cluster, trainee gatherings. The gatherings provide an insight into the seafood industry's value chain, research and innovation, circular economy, and new value chains.

Also, Benchmark Genetics gives in these meetings an overview of what is happening within breeding and genetics. Besides, how important this is for further fish health, welfare, and production. A total of 24 trainees with backgrounds in economics, technology, and biology attended the gatherings.

Trainee gathering – Biomar

In this regard, we asked Julie Elise Trovaag, a BioFarm Specialist at Biomar now, who enjoyed a traineeship in the same company. Nonetheless, she entered the industry when she was 16 years old with no experience she confirms she felt "very welcome".

"My combined practical and academic background helped me in professional terms when I got my first full-time job after my studies. Also, my practical background is helpful in my job in terms of understanding the customers (farmers) better," she explains.

Finally, she highlights the importance of these initiatives: "I think companies with a high focus on both integrity and sustainability will be attractive to young people. Additionally, trainee programs are attractive to young people – especially those that are made specifically for the industry."

Age doesn't matter

It is more than obvious that the new generations are indispensable agents in this matter. Although we should not leave aside the people that are already part of the industry. This is the reason why companies like Mowi offer specific courses in aquaculture to their staff.

The Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture has been designed to cover all aspects of aquaculture. Namely, that staff can tailor it to make it as relevant to their role as possible. It comes following a successful pilot of a 16-week NQ (National Qualification) in Maritime and Aquaculture skills, also offered by West Highland College UHI.

In short, Donald Waring, Learning and Development Manager, commented: "This new program is a significant part of the training we are looking to enhance at Mowi. The beauty of a Modern Apprenticeship is that it is vocational, on-the-job training. Everything is carried out in the workplace with no requirement to go into college."

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