Meet IDREEM’s pioneer IMTA entepreneurs

In IDREEM, research organizations work closely with SME’s, namely fish farms, to develop the best and most efficient ways of implementing IMTA. Knowledge transfer from researchers is complemented by the precious feedback of entrepreneurs’ hands-on approach.

We interviewed three of them, Suf Fish (Israel), Viking Fish Farm (Scotland), Aqua Lavagna srl (Italy),  and GIFAS ltd. (Norway) to learn more about what they do and their views on IMTA.

Can you introduce your activity?

SF:At Suf Fish farm the main and only activity is cultivating seabream. The seabream fry range from 2-40 grams and life cycle range between 12-18 months. We work at Ashdod port along the water-break.

VFF: Viking Fish Farms Ltd , Ardtoe Marine Laboratory, is a privately owned SME based on the west coast of Scotland, which operates a combined commercial marine finfish/shellfish/seaweed hatchery and marine aquaculture research unit. It currently produces commercial quantities of turbot, ballan wrasse and goldsinny wrasse fry; native and Pacific oyster spat; sea urchin juveniles and seaweed plantlets. It also carries out a range of applied research projects aimed at developing new commercial aquaculture products and processes.

AL: Aqua Soc. Agr. s.r.l. has been producing seabass and seabream in open sea since 2000. It is an offshore cage farm, located in the Ligurian sea, approx. 1 nautical mile from the shoreline of Lavagna, Genova. The licensed area is 200,000 square meters wide and its average depth is 40 meters. Aqua has acquired a wide and unique experience in installation and management of submersible cages. The vessels, equipped with cranes, are suitable for seawork and marine installations. The staff is trained and skilled to manage the cages in all weather conditions ensuring a professional and continuous cage maintenance and stock management. Furthermore, the site has being subjected to environmental monitoring programme since 2000.

GF: Gildeskål research station (GIFAS) is a private supplier of experimental facilities for the aquaculture industry. Our customers and partners are found in academia and industry both domestic and foreign, and we undertake technical and biological trials. Our niche is the intersection between industry and science, translating scientific advancements into farm practices, and engaging academic partners in applied projects addressing challenges and opportunities in aquaculture.

What benefits do you expect from the IDREEM project and what benefits have you already gained

SF: We expect to apply and carry on the IMTA project even after IDREEM is done and be exposed to more IMTA models, ideas and way of implantation. We are uncertain about the economical benefit we will gain from the IMTA, which in our farm is add-on cages that are deployed underneath the seabream cages. However, we do expect to verify if such model can have environmental value. We already met our fellow partners and as a result we learnt about other farm activities. We are also cooperating with Haifa University and as a result we are exposed to other researches done in the field.

VFF: With interests in the hatchery production of shellfish and seaweeds, Viking is hoping to increase sales of the latter products  if the advantages of IMTA to fish farmers can be demonstrated via the IDREEM project. It also hopes to diversify its production activities by installing IMTA systems at its hatchery site. However, as the project is currently in its early stages, the main gain to date has been the establishment of new research and commercial contacts with expertise,and interest in the development of IMTA systems.

AL: The benefits that we expect from IDREEM are: the best knowledge that we will provide a thorough investigation to be conducted on the state of the environment  and its interaction with the aquaculture processes; product diversification which has the advantage of reducing pollution, and increase  productivity and profit. The benefits we have already gained are: exchange experiences and information with IDREEM partners and some information on the surrounding marine environment.

GF: We hope to contribute to evolve Norwegian aquaculture legislation from monoculture to IMTA, thereby preserving the environment better and harvesting more marine nutrients from existing sites. This is the only way to combat the challenges of limited feed resources both in aquaculture, agriculture and human nutrition in the foreseeable future.

Do you apply IMTA in your farm/what are your experiences and position regarding IMTA

SF: We are starting to apply IMTA at the farm. Prior to IDREEM, we were not applying it. We were familiar with the idea and the theory that stands behind it but never had the time or the resources to devote in it. Now, we do have the resources and the support to apply IMTA.

VFF: Presently Viking does not operate its own IMTA system. However, if the pilot scale unit to be developed as a part of the IDREEM project indicates that IMTA  is technically and economically feasible for a farm of Ardtoe’s size, then it would expect to develop that system to a fully commercial scale at some later date.

AL: Currently the structures for the oysters have been put in water but we haven’t yet seeded oysters.

GF: GIFAS has not yet implemented IMTA in our salmon farming sites, but next year we plan to stock the first IMTA-site with algae, hopefully followed by blue mussels and potentially tunicates further along this road. We hope the Norwegian regulatory authorities will endorse our efforts, helping us to utilise the combined expertise within the IDREEM-consortium to arrive at a new level of green mariculture.

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