High Energy Mariculture opens with keynote

High Energy Mariculture The High Energy Mariculture Conference 2018 opened on 17 October. Credit: Bonnie Waycott

The High Energy Mariculture Conference 2018 opened today with Conference Chairman Langley Gace, Senior Vice President of InnovaSea Systems Inc. giving the keynote address. Also present for the opening session were Vasilis Gontzes, General Manager of conference sponsor Fitco S.A and Dr. Beyhan de Jong, Associate Analyst at RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness.

Welcoming the audience to Corfu, Langley Gace began by offering examples of the difficult and unpredictable conditions in the open ocean, and challenged delegates to use the words "open ocean" as opposed to "offshore," a term which can also refer to distance from shore. He highlighted some critical success factors for open ocean farms, including the need for capital, careful site selection, choosing a species that can be marketed and sold, ensuring a good supply of high quality feed, maintaining fish health and retaining skilled staff.

"You need excellent fish health staff on site and on retainer. It's very important to get your staff engrained on disciplined systems and processes to keep costs low and address problems," he said.

Offshore focus

Vasilis Gontzes focused on efforts by marine aquaculture to expand into deeper, offshore environments. He described the potential of offshore farming to increase food production in an environmentally sustainable way, its importance in food security and economic development but explained that success depends on specialised equipment such as robust cages, moorings and nets that can cope with more dynamic conditions.

Dr. Beyhan de Jong ended the opening session. Explaining that all seafood growth comes from aquaculture and that this would continue, she said that changing consumer preferences towards high protein, low fat, high omega-3 content animal protein sources, and technology and innovations (e.g. genetics, packing, equipment and farming) are contributing to the industry's growth. She went on to say that the highly volatile supply of fishmeal means that alternatives such as algae, bacterial proteins, GM canola and insects are attracting more attention. With high EPA levels, algae feed is highly digestible and can result in high growth rates. Insects, in particular black soldier fly, is a good source of protein and oils with an increased interest from investors, while bacterial proteins, or single cell proteins, are closer to commercial scale operations in larger volumes.

Beyhan also explained that rise in innovation, such as evolving husbandry technology and farm design, is being driven by the need for biosecurity. Examples of evolving technology include vaccines, lasers to kill salmon lice and underwater cameras that can monitor fish behaviour. She added that China is a country to keep an eye on, as it will increasingly need a seafood supply from around the world in the midst of changing consumer appetites and domestic supply dynamics.

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