Leading Sustainable Innovation: Re-cap from the Farmed Seafood Policy Conference

Guest article by: Jenny Weitzman, Dalhousie University

Another great Farmed Seafood Policy Conference at the Westin in Ottawa (Nov 21 and 22).

Keynote speaker Amy Novogratz, Managing Partner, Aqua-Spark

Keynote speaker Amy Novogratz, Managing Partner, Aqua-Spark

The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) hosted its annual conference, attracting a range of exciting and innovating partners from across Canada’s farmed seafood supply chain and policy actors. This year’s theme, ‘Oceans of Opportunity’ featured a diverse lineup of expert speakers presenting across a number of themes about the demand for seafood, the opportunities for Canada’s industry, and Canada’s role in global leadership, research and innovation, and sustainable development of aquaculture.

Among the range of topics presented, speakers sparked interest and excitement about the diversity of research and innovation within Canada and across the world.

Opening keynote speaker Amy Norogratz from Aqua-Spark highlighted some of the numerous research and innovations in technology and science. Aqua-Spark is the only aquaculture-dedicated investment funds committed to sustainable aquaculture innovation and research. Only 6 years since its inception Aqua-Spark has invested in 60-80 companies across the value chain, across species and geographies around the world. In the realm of aqua feeds, they have invested in companies researching alternative protein sources. For example, these include companies such as Calysta, who is using microbes that feed off methane, and Protix, who is using insects such as black solider flies. For disease, they have invested in companies such as Proteon Pharmaceuticals which are researching how to use new strains of phages to combat fish infection. They also are investing in a number of companies creating innovations in farm operations such as Sogn Aqua who are growing halibut on land in Norway using advanced patented water recirculation technologies.

The Canada’s Role in Seafood Farming Innovation panelists (from left)  David McInnes, DMci Strategies (moderator),  Bjørn Apeland, Steinsvik Canada; Marvyn Budd, Planet Shrimp Inc.; and Ian Carr, Cargill Aqua Nutrition.

The Canada’s Role in Seafood Farming Innovation panelists (from left)  David McInnes, DMci Strategies (moderator),  Bjørn Apeland, Steinsvik Canada; Marvyn Budd, Planet Shrimp Inc.; and Ian Carr, Cargill Aqua Nutrition.

Next, Bjorn Apeland, chief executive officer from the Steinsvik Group presented a first look into the potential vision and future for aquaculture innovation in equipment, machinery and facilities. For over 60 years, Steinsvik has been producing innovative products in remote sensing, cameras, feeding systems, and monitoring software, among others, to improve the efficiency, health, and sustainability of fish farming systems. At the conference, we were fortunate to become immersed in a video presenting a potential future of aquaculture through automation, surveillance, data monitoring, etc… This video highlights their vision of how innovation can lead the industry, and highlights many of the current technologies that are even today being researched and undertaken today.

Continuing with the theme of advanced technologies, Marvyn Budd from Planet Shrimp introduced us to his innovative company using the state-of-the-art technologies to culture fresh Ontario-grown indoor shrimp. This closed containment system controls almost every aspect of the species’ health, bringing the production of a local, antibiotic-free, environmentally-friendly shrimp product to Canadians.

Finally, we heard from Cargill’s Ian Carr, who spoke to us about the advances in aquafeeds. Cargill is a major aqua feed company using new and different raw materials. They have major investments in state-of-the art research facilities to create innovations in health, including recovery and immunity features of feeds. Their goals are to reduce the footprint of aqua feeds and better recycle wastes during the process.

These new and exciting technologies, research, and innovations continued to spark intrigue and excitement the rest of the day. These speakers, among the many presenters that followed throughout the day highlight the current opportunities already ongoing within Canada and throughout the world for the future of sustainable aquaculture.