NORWAY - The Ocean Forest project was initiated two years ago and is focussed on developing Intergrated Multitrophic Aquaculture (IMTA) on a commercial scale in Norway. Speaking at Aqua Nor 2015 in Trondheim, Norway, Solveig van Nes, from the Bellona Foundation, explains the benefits of IMTA and how the ocean can be used to feed us in the future.
The big picture is that by 2050 the world's population will be 9 billion and there will be a bigger demand for food, said Ms Nes.
We will also be using more fuel, more of the earths resources and land space and water scarcity will also be growing.
Currently, only two per cent of the ocean is harvested for human food supply, meaning we have big opportunities to use it to produce food.
We know food demand cannot come solely from fishing as many stocks are already hugely overfished so we should therefore use the seas as farmers and not as hunters, she said.
The IMTA system does just that. It is sustainable and allows the production of more than one species in the same area of water, whereby the waste of one species becomes the resource of another.
IMTA also has a reduced nutrient load and low waste, minimising environmental harm. It also allows for increased biomass without the need for feed and is very energy efficient.
The Ocean Forest IMTA project is culturing algae (seaweed) and mussels - both of which offer more than just food for humans.
Seaweed is very effective in space, time and with resources than many other crops such as wheat, maize, rice or soy. It is around five times more resource efficient than these land based crops crops.
Seaweed grows very fast, does not require any freshwater input and is very are efficient making it as sustainable farming option.
Seweeds/algae also have a variety of uses including human food, as feed, as a biofuel or in medicines or cosmetics.
Mussels are also not only a delicacy for us, they are also ideal as a fishmeal replacement in fish feed.
Research showed that fish fed the mussel meal grew better or at the same rate as fish fed fishmeal.
Ms Nes concluded by saying that the future of aquaculture in Norway is not just salmon. Instead we should think about future aquaculture as combining food, feed and fuel.