Ocean Forest’s vision is to substantially multiply food production from the sea in a sustainable manner by harvesting species from lower down in the food chain. This vision will reduce the footprint caused by production of fish while generating significant volumes of raw materials for human consumption, for feed and for clean energy and at the same time representing a substantial absorption of CO2.
At Ocean Forest, we follow a strategy to achieve more efficient recycling of the unexploited resources in the environments surrounding fish farms. Excess nutrients in the sea generated by the production of fish are a resource that can be utilised for the production of species lower down in the food chain. Given the fact that shells grow on particles and that microalgae surviving on the discharges of nutrient salts and macroalgae recycle dissolved nutrient salts, we can achieve more efficient recycling of unexploited resources in the environments surrounding fish farms while at the same time increasing our marine biomass production without having to add more feed or fertiliser and while keeping our seas cleaner.
On a wider perspective, the algae and shells farmed in an integrated fish farm will absorb CO2 thereby reducing atmospheric carbon levels and reducing marine acidification. In turn, the algae will provide a biomass for production of renewable and non-polluting biofuel (neutral carbon cycle rather than utilisation of fossil energy sources).
Seaweed, kelp and mussels is largely underutilized resources to grow free in the Norwegian waters - with unlimited possibilities for use in feed, food, medicine, biofuels , nutraceuticals & fertilizers.
Safer and healthier food with reduced impact on the environment and climate
Global demand for food is set to increase by 70% by the year 2050, and it is essential that food production in the future has the lowest possible utilisation of those resources that are in scarcity and with the lowest possible impact on the environment and climate. Marine food production is more efficient in terms of land and resource utilisation and has a lower carbon footprint than food production on land. Moreover, marine food production has a much lower utilisation of fresh water than land-based food production.
We can therefore conclude that the potential for increased food production from the sea is vast, provided that it remains within environmentally sustainable boundaries.
Low-trophic species such as algae, mussels and bottom fauna exploit the excess nutrients from agriculture, aquaculture and human activity, and convert these to harvestable biomass. As such, we have the potential to harvest substantially higher volumes of biomass/food from the sea, without having to add additional resources in the form of feed, fertiliser etc. In practice, we can further increase resource-efficiency from aquaculture, while at the same time reducing nutrient discharges to marine environments.
Given the increasing demand for food, cleaner energy and a higher number of eco-friendly workplaces, it would be negligent not to test a system with such a high theoretical potential.
The environmental challenges faced by the aquaculture industry can be solved and the industry has the potential to create eco-friendly jobs for the future. Our sea waters are our blue fields of the future. Increased farming of marine algae, fish and shellfish provides an environmentally-efficient method of meeting the need for food for the coming generations without exhausting our valuable resources of fresh water and land.
Most of us have a picture of a steaming bowl of delicious shellfish in a white wine sauce when we read the word mussels. However, mussels could also be an essential component in increasing the sustainability of aquaculture. One essential part of the environmental whole within aquaculture is the use of sustainable raw materials for feed. Ocean Forest’s research activities therefore also cover production and utilisation of mussel meal as a locally produced (with low levels of greenhouse gases) raw material for fish feed.
In November 2014, Ocean Forest could proudly report the production of six tons of mussel meal (primarily from the soft part of the mussel) with the assistance of Pelagia Karmsund Fiskemel.
Mussel meal contains both the healthy Omega 3 fatty acids and a high level of marine proteins, and is therefore perfect for fish feed. As opposed to plant-based proteins, mussels can be farmed without the need for vast areas of land, fresh water, artificial fertiliser and eradicants, and contains all the amino acids a salmon needs.
Ocean Forest has ordered the production of pellets (fish feed) from EWOS, where a share of the fishmeal used has been replaced by mussel meal. Feed tests have also been carried out in order to measure fish appetite, growth and survival with mussel meal. The results are very promising. Mussel meal has proven to be a satisfactory replacement for fishmeal, and as such the aquaculture industry can minimise its reliance on wild fish as a raw material for feed and increase its utilisation of mussels.
In collaboration with NIFES, the National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research, we are also carrying out investigations to discover whether naturally occurring algal toxins could have a negative impact on the fish or the consumer.
SEA LETTUCE (Ulva lactuca), a leafy, green algae common along the entire coast from the intertidal zone and down to approximately 15 metres deep. The leaves grow to 10-60 cm and not only resemble lettuce but can be used as lettuce.
DULSE (Palmaria palmata) is a red algae that grows on stone and rock down to depths of 15 metres. This algae is common along the entire Norwegian coast and particularly so in the west and north. Both sea lettuce and dulse are edible and can be prepared in a number of ways. Try some of the recipes you can find towards the back of the folder.
WINGED KELP (Alaria esculenta) is a kelp that grows up to 3 metres and resembles a feather. It thrives in waters that are colder than 16 degrees with a lot of waves, and is therefore only found from Mandal north to Finnmark.
SEA GIRDLE (Laminaria digitata) is a 2-3 metre long kelp that grows at depths of 10-20 metres and is common in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean.
SUGAR KELP (Saccharina latissima, Laminaria saccharina) is one of the most common kelps in Norway and can grow up to 4-5 metres long, but the most common size is 1-2 metres. It forms forests along the entire coast and around Svalbard. Norway has 5-25% of global sugar kelp.
New expertise on and charting of environmental impact
The introduction of integrated aquaculture on a commercial scale can realise the vision that aquaculture in the future will meet an increased demand for food and clean, renewable energy. However, if we are to ensure that such a development in Norway takes place within environmentally sustainable boundaries, new expertise is absolutely essential.
The theoretical environmental gains provided by farming so-called low-trophic species in the same facilities as fish production are numerous. Ocean Forest has therefore initiated collaboration with relevant professional groups in order to chart the positive environmental impact of integrated aquaculture per location, but also to determine whether any negative impact can be found.
In our efforts to compile a more general and a more specialised, in-depth environmental impact assessment of integrated aquaculture in Norway, we have also initiated an interdisciplinary collaboration by inviting various groups of experts throughout Norway to take part in the process of describing positive environmental gains and the risk of any negative impact that must be governed by a set of regulations. It is also important to chart the size of area required for integrated aquaculture systems.
With this interdisciplinary collaboration, our aim is to formulate a knowledge base that could provide specialised fundamental information for decision-makers, in order to ensure a sustainable development of integrated aquaculture in Norway. Furthermore, the charting of positive and any negative environmental impact may have a decisive influence in promoting more sustainable aquaculture internationally.
How do we exploit the algae we farm at ocean forest?
Ocean Forest’s main focus point is the actual ”sea phase” of integrated aquaculture; from launch to sea until the product reaches the quay after harvesting. Our secondary goals related to the algae we farm therefore mainly comprise testing of farming and harvesting methods that provide the greatest environmental gain, the highest biomass and best financial yield.
All algae farmed for Ocean Forest is autochthonous (native to the place where the algae is found). One important element in our work is therefore to chart which naturally occurring species are suited for farming in an integrated system. We therefore have close collaboration with specialised experts who can farm so-called seedlings based on local/native propagating plants and who assess various systems for farming algae.
Moreover, we collaborate with specialised experts to evaluate potential challenges related to season and different organisms that grow around the farms, and to chart the positive and negative environmental impact of integrated aquaculture.
Although the main focus area is the production phase at sea, we have also started work on solving important bottlenecks for the use of the algae. Currently, we only make use of the alginate from algae, and this is only a tiny part. One of Ocean Forest’s goals is to uncover the potential for exploitation of the entire algae/a much larger proportion of the algae.