Status and Innovation in the Aquaculture industry
Status of the Marine Fish Farming Industry Worldwide
Aquaculture is in a phase of rapid expansion around the globe and, within decades, may take over from wild fisheries as the leading supplier of seafood (Goldberg & Naylor 2005). Of the total global seafood production in 2003 of 146 mt, aquaculture supplied 37% (55 mt, FAO 2005a). As the fastest growing food producing sector, aquaculture has gathered a reputation as a significant contributor to world food supplies and income generation. At the same time, some forms of production have caused negative environmental and socio-economic impacts (Subasinghe 2003).
Problems, opportunities and challenges of marine fish farming
The on-growing phase of marine fish farming involves the greatest problems and uncertainties for production. Once a farm is in place, the farmer has input control over basic parameters such as fish stocking densities and feed input, but has limited control over the variable environmental conditions the farm experiences (e.g. wave and current climate, water quality, oxygen levels) and the behaviour of the fish within the cages (e.g. food consumption levels). These variables greatly affect growth and welfare of the fish and the overall efficiency of production. Technologies that provide better control of these variables will greatly improve the success of grow out operations.
The Norwegian fish farming industry has been the chief developer of modern marine aquaculture, both in Norway and internationally. This has been achieved through a mutual symbiosis with Norwegian suppliers of systems and equipment. Since the 1960s, intensive development and mechanization of the sea-based fish farming has occurred. Today, advances in technology coupled with improvements in design that yield more productive operations have significantly increased the practice of cage culture (CSN-INTRAN 2004).
Research based innovation possibilities
In a recent foresight analysis of the potential development of the Norwegian aquaculture industry until 2020, the Norwegian Research Council (2004) identified a clear need ‘for innovation to enhance competitiveness … and to give impetus to innovation initiatives in which the companies and the industry choose to invest.’ CREATE will be a mechanism to link research and commercial interests within the same context.