AQUA 2018 took place on 25-29 August in Montpellier, France and aimed to highlight the importance of the aquaculture food production industry.
The event was made up of a scientific conference, trade exhibition, industry forums, workshops, student events and receptions, highlighting the latest aquaculture research and innovation supporting the growth of the sector. Caroline Griffin, Aquaculture Innovation Manager from SAIC joined attendees from over sixty countries at the conference.
Key themes of the event included: the “perfect storm” of climate change, obesity and environmental issues and the need to future proof our nutrition and food systems; the main challenges for global food production: public perception, new technologies, sustainable production and climate variability; and the need to raise a common voice to establish aquaculture as a major sustainable and responsible food production system in the EU.
There was also a call for the industry to provide 4.5 million tons of sustainable food products by 2030, doing so safely without depriving future generations of the benefits of the oceans.
Many innovative solutions were presented at this year’s conference, including the development and use of biosensors (a microchip in the fish operculum) to communicate real time data, helping oyster farmers detect toxic algae in the Mediterranean, anticipating its proliferation and begin the harvest early; the creation of fish feed from wood products, using wood which is converted to sugars using biomass fractionation and then converted to protein using yeast; and the use of an electric curtain surrounding fish farm cages to kill sea lice by firing electric pulses at them, with 80% efficiency, an initiative that has been awarded €1.7 million by Horizon 2020.
Despite the new innovations, there was a warning that there is a dangerous lack of diversity in the European aquaculture industry, with a real need to use the expertise gained from the culture of one species to introduce new species, in order to avoid the risk to food security if there is a catastrophic event.
More information can be found on the event website.