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Research areas

SWEMARC will transcend traditional boundaries in aquaculture research by integrating expert competence in social, economic, environmental and biological sciences to establish truly trans- and interdisciplinary research approaches. To achieve this, SWEMARC research is organized in six highly integrated research areas to address key problems that currently limit the sustainable development of mariculture. The concept of carrying capacities and the current public opinion (RA1) will set the framework for the question-driven research areas in which focus will be on legal and societal conflicts (RA2), farming systems with strong barriers for low or positive environmental impact and nutrient remediation (RA3), novel marine feeds derived from circular farming systems, assuring high health, welfare and quality without impacting wild fish populations (RA4), and consumer perception of mariculture products along with development of future products and markets (RA5). The holistic approach to a sustainable expansion of marine aquaculture will be to evaluate the ecological, economical and societal impacts of the combined research outcomes and present strategies and guidelines for concrete actions (RA6).
 

RESEARCH AREAS
RA 1) A framework for sustainable expansion of mariculture
RA 2) Managing legal and societal conflicts
RA 3) Development of environmentally friendly culture techniques
RA 4) Aquafeed development
RA5) Consumption and marketing
RA 6) Impact of mariculture
 

RA 1) A framework for sustainable expansion of mariculture
Researcher in charge: Mats Lindegarth
Challenges:

There is a global consensus about the increasing importance of aquaculture as an essential provider of food and other valuable products. Sweden and the EU have identified aquaculture as an important component of “blue growth”. Expansion of the underdeveloped mariculture sector is however a challenging political and social task. In order to provide recommendations and strategies for sustainable mariculture expansion, in Sweden and globally, a common framework needs to be adopted that takes into account the diverse set of economic, societal, institutional and biological factors that are preventing expansion of the sector.

Objectives and expected outcomes:
• To summarize the state-of-the-art for assessing different aspects of carrying capacity, to analyze limiting factors for the development of different types of mariculture under a range of socio-economic settings and ecological conditions, and to develop ways to overcome these obstacles.
• To study current public opinion and in particular to analyze major factors determining pro-mariculture opinion, in order to understand how a broad support among citizens and stakeholders can be gained.
• To develop a conceptual framework, based on carrying capacities that will encompass relevant factors currently complicating and limiting sustainable expansion of mariculture.
• To implement this framework on RA2-RA5
• To provide a baseline and alternative scenarios for managing limiting factors to be evaluated in RA6.

RA 2) Managing legal and societal conflicts
Researcher in charge: David Langlet
Challenges:

Legal and administrative frameworks establish a complex web of rules and procedures, aiming to regulate and accommodate various activities and interests that have to be navigated by actors involved in mariculture development. These frameworks are local, regional, national, international (EU) and global, and raise a number of challenges for commercial, scientific and particularly for regulatory and supervisory actors at various levels. These challenges are compounded by the relative novelty of mariculture activities in many regions, as well as by the rapid legal and policy developments in pertinent areas, including the current establishment of a legal framework for maritime spatial planning at a national and EU levels. This creates a situation with low predictability and potentially high costs for managing legal and regulatory risk and obstacles.

Objectives and expected outcomes:
• To compile relevant legal acts and frameworks affecting mariculture and to analyze any identified overlaps, conflicts, lacunae and uncertainties pertaining to these frameworks and their application to representative model cases.
• To develop recommendations for commercial, scientific and regulatory actors on how identified conflicts and uncertainties may be constructively managed or even rectified.
• To develop methods for site-selection based on spatially explicit modeling, best available scientific information and stakeholder involvement, thus optimizing all aspects of carrying capacity.
• To use a transdisciplinary approach to develop methods for participatory design, co-creating knowledge among stakeholders and design criteria for physical planning in mariculture development.
 

RA 3) Development of environmentally friendly culture techniques
Researcher in charge: Henrik Pavia
Challenges:
Conventional open-cage mariculture currently provides significant amounts of high-value marine protein, but has detrimental environmental effects through nutrient release when finfish, crayfish and mollusks are being fed, through genetic, pathological and parasitic interactions with wild populations, and through the use of wild-harvested fish for feed production. There is thus an urgent need to develop novel, high-productivity cultivation models without exceeding the system-specific carrying capacity.

Objectives and expected outcomes:
• To increase the diversity of cultured species, through development and validation of optimal conditions for full lifecycle farming of new mariculture species from different trophic levels.
• To develop novel techniques that combine local mariculture and feed production (RA 4), thereby recycling nutrients and raw material to create more self-sustained production systems.
• To test and provide recommendations for novel, multitrophic mariculture models.
• To provide empirical data and parameters that allow for rigorous modeling of environmental and economical sustainability, as well as assessment of social acceptance (RA6)
• To develop novel, sustainable, circular multitrophic cultivation systems, with new matching methods to evaluate environmental carrying capacities as well as social acceptance (RA1, RA2, RA6).
 

RA 4) Aquafeed development
Researcher in charge: Björn Thrandur Björnsson
Challenges:

Mariculture feeds in open systems contribute significantly to organic pollution, and are still to a significant degree based on raw materials from capture fisheries, thus potentially contributing to the overfishing of wild stocks. Current alternative ingredients are mainly from terrestrial plant sources and therefore compete for both freshwater and land resources as well as directly with the human consumption or animal husbandry market. Consequently, aquaculture is exposed to large changes in availability and price of feed ingredients, amplifying the economic vulnerability of the sector, where feed accounts for over 50 percent of the production cost. From a biological perspective, mariculture feeds are often poorly tailored to meet species and life-stage specific nutritional needs, resulting in risk for reduced growth efficiency, animal health and welfare.


Objectives and expected outcomes:

• To identify new, marine raw materials, especially non-food alternatives from low-trophic level organisms in the circular production systems (RA3) and from underutilized byproduct sources.
• To develop methods for extraction of high quality nutrients from these raw materials.
• To use these nutrients for development of novel mariculture feeds, tailor-made to the specific nutritional needs of aquaculture species and life stages.
• To evaluate species/stage-specific quality of mariculture feeds in terms of growth efficiency and their promotion of animal health and welfare.
• To improve aquaculture economics, resilience and environmental performance by creating a more diverse basket of feed ingredients for resource- and growth-efficient feed.
 

RA5) Consumption and marketing
Researcher in charge: Lena Mossberg
Challenges:

The negative environmental impacts frequently caused by unsustainable finfish culturing practices have led to a collective stigmatization of the aquaculture industry. A lack of consumer awareness of the nutritional benefits of seafood in combination with a perception that farmed products are less trustworthy in regard to food safety, health, sustainability and animal welfare than wild-caught products presents a threat to the possible expansion of local and global mariculture.

Objectives and expected outcomes:
• To identify factors that can elucidate why some aquaculture industries succeed while others fail, as well as illuminating underlying factors influencing buying behavior and consumption patterns in regard to the selected mariculture products.
• To increase consumer awareness and knowledge of benefits of mariculture products through knowledge-based information in order to change consumer consumption patterns.
• To develop mariculture prototypes for selected markets together with various stakeholders.
• To establish a cluster of organizations for upscaling prototypes for commercialization in target markets.
• To develop marketing communication strategies for at least two novel, sustainable and profitable mariculture products ready to be launched in target markets.

RA 6) Impact of mariculture
Researcher in charge: John Armbrecht
Challenges:

Mariculture has physical and psychological impacts at a local, regional and national level. In order to understand and assess the aggregated impact of mariculture from a holistic perspective including the environment, the economy and society, a prerequisite is to integrate different types of impacts. Integration and aggregation of impacts allows understanding of the trade-offs between mariculture techniques and ensures well-balanced and sustainable policy decisions, which is essential when environmental impacts must be balanced against sociocultural or economic benefits.

Objectives and expected outcomes:
• To develop a methodology where impacts of aquaculture can be integrated and assessed in one common unit.
• To describe and analyze the impacts of different mariculture techniques in order to determine which mariculture techniques are most favorable in terms of welfare from societies’ perspective.
• Elaborate recommendations and clear-cut strategies for mariculture development that minimize negative and maximize positive impacts.

Page Manager: Webbredaktionen|Last update: 6/15/2017
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