Trends in aquaculture for 2023

What are the trends in aquaculture for this year? Heather Jones, CEO of Scotland’s Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) looked into her crystal ball.
Fish farm Spain
19 January, 2023
By Bert Popping

At the beginning of every year, we see people turning into future teller. Some of those prognoses are more probable to come true than others. For the trends in aquaculture in 2023, Heather Jones, CEO of Scotland’s Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) wrote an op-ed (short for “opposite the editorial page”, is a written prose piece, typically published by a North-American newspaper or magazine, which expresses the opinion of an author usually not affiliated with the publication’s editorial board).

She sees, focused on Scottish aquaculture and innovation, three trends: the mitigation of natural threats, putting technology developments into action and connecting the dots between government strategies.

For the mitigation of natural threats, she highlights that warmer water causes algal, plant, or zooplankton blooms. She emphasises that their goal is to developing new tools and systems to better understand these threats.
Last week, we already reported about research by the Max Planck Institute in Germany that found certain algae being capable of removing (binding) carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. This type of research is very pertinent at current times and has the potential to make a significant positive impact in slowing down the CO2 increase.

In terms of putting technology developments into action, Heather Jones states that emerging technologies and big data have been on the horizon for some time, but it would be 2023 when these need to put into action.  In that context, we have already seen and reported about some of the close-to-market research based on artificial intelligence, helping aquaculture operators to mitigate diseases and harvest fish safety, even in rough seas.

The third item she mentions is that there is a need to connecting the dots between government strategies. She stated “ A good example of where this has worked before is the blue economy. Scotland’s energy sector has modernized in a big way, transitioning to renewable tidal and wind-powered energy source. We should see seafood see seafood [sic] in the same way – moving from the old ways of doing things, catching wild fish, to cultivating the sea the same way we have the land through modern agricultural practices.”

So overall, the predictions are reasonable, and I would just add one prediction: the need for a more diversified skillset and workforce in the aquaculture industry.  The aquaculture industry is rapidly changing from a traditional industry that was focused on simply producing fish to a much more sophisticated one, that will make use of artificial intelligence, use novel animal feeds from various sources and produces specialised products not only from fish but also algae.  And here, there is a need for reskilling and upskilling of workers from across different sectors. This is where the EIT Food-funded AGAPE project will help to match workers with industry needs and suggest measures for reskilling and upskilling of gaps exist.

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