Seas At Risk participated in the European Aquaculture Society’s annual Aquaculture Europe 2016 conference which took place from the 20th-23rd of September in Edinburgh, Scotland. Some promising research results (on among others aquaponics) point to the important role innovation can play in making the sector sustainable.

Under the theme “FOOD for THOUGHT – something to think about, something to be seriously considered and something that provides mental stimulation and nourishment” 1 700 participants representing various actors within the sector discussed the future opportunities for growth of the aquaculture industry in Europe, which has stagnated since the year 2000.

Several aquaculture research projects presented their findings during the three-day conference, and Seas At Risk will work to bring these developments into the recently created European Aquaculture Advisory Council, which is to advise the European Commission and the Member States on shaping sustainable aquaculture in Europe.

Seas At Risk followed in particular the session on aquaponics with great interest. Aquaponics is a food production technology that combines aquaculture (production of fish) and hydroponics (soilless production of vegetables) in one system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. The challenge is to develop an aquaculture system that produces zero waste and thus reduces its impact on the environment. Seas At Risk expects that – given the right incentives - aquaponics may become a viable future option for sustainable aquaculture production (see also our position paper on environmentally responsible aquaculture).

During the aquaponics session promising findings were presented which forecast savings in water of around 90% compared to traditional agriculture, a 75% reduction in the use of fertilizer compared to conventional hydroponics systems, and a reduction of nitrogen and phosphor (the main ingredients in artificial fertilizers), and of CO2 emissions when using aquaponics systems. We hope that the promising results presented during the conference will lead to a fast take-up in the market of this type of culture systems.

Further sessions dealt with the topic of escapees and the effect aquaculture farms have on wild fish populations, organic aquaculture and the consumers’ familiarity with EU eco-labels and other international food labels, as well as Integrated Multi-Tropic Aquaculture and its economic viability.

The Aquaculture Europe 2017 conference will take place under the theme “Cooperation for Growth” from 16th to 20th of October in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

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