This article featured in Eurofish Magazine 6 2018.
St. Petersburg, the “Venice of the North”, hosted the second edition of the Global Fishery Forum and Seafood Expo Russia on 13-15 September 2018. The event centered on what to expect from the global fisheries industry and markets in the coming decades.
The forum brought together more than 1 100 business leaders, members of international food and fisheries organizations, specialized ministries, international seafood companies and fisheries representatives from 42 countries, including Canada, China, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Norway, and Turkey.
Asia strongly represented at aquaculture session
The session “Aquaculture production and development forecast by 2050” focused on the discussions of the state of the global aquaculture sector, its future growth, and environmental control and safety. Moderated by Ekaterina Tribilustova, Eurofish International Organisation, the session hosted experts from specialized agencies, ministries, sectorial organisations and unions from 8 countries, including the Federal Agency for Fisheries of Russia, the Union of Sturgeon Breeders of Russia, China’s Union of Seafood Processing Enterprises, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey, the Ministry of Agricultural Development of Islamic Republic of Iran and Shilat Organization for Fisheries and Fish Farming of Iran, and the National Institute of Research and Development of fisheries sector in the Republic of Korea.
At present, the aquaculture industry produces over 45% of fish and seafood products consumed globally, while the share of fish products is 53%, according to the FAO. At the same time, the global population has never consumed as much fish as now. Since 1961, the growth rates of fish consumption in the world have been two times higher than the population growth, while the production growth rates have been declining. It is expected that even growing at a slower rate the aquaculture sector can eliminate the gap between growing demand and declining resources playing a major role in providing the world population with the proteins they need. The aquaculture sector in particular has an especially important role in improving food nutrition and fighting hunger.
Russia has ambitious plans for its aquaculture sector
Projecting the development of fish consumption by 2050 and the role of the Russian Federation, Vasily Sokolov, the Deputy Head of the Federal Agency for Fishery, reminded the audience that one of the priorities of the Federal Agency for Fisheries is to increase annual domestic fish consumption to 24–26 kg per capita. In the aquaculture sector, the current production output of 220 000 tonnes is expected to triple by 2030 under the fisheries sector development strategy, and reach 2 million tonnes by 2050. A special role will be played by land-based farming, primarily by salmon farming that is expanding and has already reached about 20 000 tonnes. Organic aquaculture is a very important area for aquaculture development in the country, which has the advantages of enormous land areas and good natural conditions. Sokolov also highlighted a new focus on shellfish and algae farming. Some of the algae species in Russia include macrofids: laminaria and undaria, and microalgae (e.g, chlorella, dunaliella, gematokokkus, and porfiridium).
The government has already invested into providing a business-friendly environment for attracting private investors to the aquaculture sector, which has proved to be rather effective, Sokolov said. He noted that the major work is carried out on improving the legal framework for fish farming and increased veterinary control, and government support for companies of conventional and organic aquaculture. Major attention is given to the regulations in organic aquaculture, voluntary certification of production and traceability system for the whole supply chain of production and realization, and to research and scientific and technological cooperation.
The President of the Russian Union of Sturgeon Breeders, Alexander Novikov, said that sturgeon breeding, selection and hybridisation will be changing, and in the next 50 years, the caviar of farmed species will differ from previous wild caviar, but it does not mean it will be worse. He added that sturgeon farming has been developed in many countries in the past decades.
Chinese aquaculture will focus increasingly on the environment
Development of the Chinese aquaculture in the new era was discussed by Cui He, Vice President and Secretary General, China Union of Seafood Processing Enterprises. China, as the top world producer with its fisheries and aquaculture production of 70 million tonnes, accounts for over one third of global production. In 2016, fisheries and aquaculture production in China reached its peak, followed then by the declining trend for both fisheries and aquaculture. At present, the overall objective for the Chinese government is to enhance the quality and efficiency of the aquaculture sector, based on the necessity of aquaculture transformation and reducing production, while increasing efficiency and assuring sustainable development of the sector. It is expected that the national aquatic production will reach 58 million tonnes by 2020. A special focus is placed on environmental protection because many traditional farming areas have been listed in protected areas. For example, traditional aquaculture in the Hainan province will decline with the decrease of farmed areas in lakes, reservoirs and coastal cages. Another example is the Hubei province, the largest freshwater aquaculture province in China, where 82 000 hectares have been closed down.
The measures of Chinese aquaculture reform include a changing layout of the farmed areas, such as expansion of mariculture into open seas, represented by deep sea anti-wave cages. In inland waters, lakes and reservoirs, farming that uses added feed has been reduced, while ecological propagation farming (relying on natural food supply, for example) has been expanding. Some of the examples include integrated rice-field aquaculture, multi-trophic level species polyculture, ecological pond farming with sewage disposal system, deep-sea adjustable cage aquaculture, and recirculating aquaculture.
Future trends for Chinese aquaculture include the optimization of the ecological farmed production model, development of the land-based industrialized aquaculture model, and shifting from inshore to off-shore operations. Aquaculture company operators are also changing from being just farmers to becoming enterprises, adjusting aquaculture species to meet market demand, increasing profitability, and developing the use of refrigerating technologies in transporting products.
Well-designed policy contributes to the growth of fish farming sector in Turkey
An overview of the aquaculture development in Turkey was given by Turgay Turkyilmaz, Deputy Director, General Directorate of Fisheries and Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey. Over 34 years, the national aquaculture sector has undergone a remarkable expansion, growing 100 times in size. The first fish farming production started in the 1980s with output of 2 226 tonnes in 1984, while the total national production of fisheries and aquaculture was 569 169 tonnes, making the share of aquaculture products in total production only 0.4%. By 2017, total fisheries and aquaculture production reached 630 820 tonnes, and aquaculture produced 276 502 tonnes, giving aquaculture a 44% share of total production. During the first years of aquaculture development, only rainbow trout was farmed, but later the sector expanded to seabass and seabream farming. At present, the sector has a higher variety of fish species, including tuna, sharpsnout seabream, common pandora (mercan), white grouper, shi drum, sand steenbras, meagre, common dentex, and red porgy.
Discussing the key success factors contributing to the development of aquaculture in Turkey, Mr. Turkyilmaz described the policies and government initiatives for attracting investment and using best-practice technologies, and setting aquaculture control mechanisms including continuous monitoring. There are 43 aquaculture offices in the provinces with functions of supervision and advice to entrepreneurs in the optimal ways of farmed fish production with minimum costs and hazards to the environment. Aquaculture companies get quick responses from governmental institutions to expedite the sector’s adaptation to market needs. At the urging of the environment and tourism sector stakeholders, fish farms have been moved off the coast by 0.6 miles, more than 30 meters depth and bigger flow than 0.1 m per second by law in 2007. The future strategies include an increase in fish consumption in the domestic market, creation of fish consumption habits and awareness among consumers, keeping a strong position in the supply of aquaculture products and developing new species, especially those which need less oxygen and lower animal protein.
The session’s experts also discussed experience in the aquaculture sector in the Republic of Iran, Japan, and Korea, prospects and principal areas in aquaculture development in the Black, Azov and Caspian seas, and Russian Far Eastern basins, possibilities of developing Russian varieties of trout and Atlantic salmon, and ways of overcoming environmental and socioeconomic challenges by comparing the experience of other countries.
Sustainability of aquaculture will continue to grow in importance
The session concluded that aquaculture will remain the leading industry among all food sectors producing products of animal origin, despite shrinking growth rates. By 2050, sustainability of the global aquaculture sector will depend on the introduction of practices and technologies that improve ecological and economic performance of the sector, and at the same time, increase efficiency of production. Sustainable development of the aquaculture sector is not limited to one country or region but is reflected in the consolidated approach by all countries to support sustainable, technologically innovative production.
One of every two fish sold on the world’s markets already comes from aquaculture and this share will continue to grow in the coming years. New farming projects are added almost every day. Not all of them succeed at the first attempt for aquaculture is very susceptible to disturbances and damages. So far, however, only very few companies are insured against losses. Too expensive, too complicated, or simply not interested?
Insurance companies don’t have a very good image. They are sometimes scorned for lending out umbrellas but immediately reclaiming them when the first drops of rain fall. Nearly everyone can relate examples of how skilfully insurance companies will evade their obligations when things get really tight for the insured party. Nevertheless, interest in insuring aquaculture projects has never been greater than it is today. The gap between this increase in demand and the available offers of aquaculture insurance is getting wider and wider. More than ten years ago FAO experts estimated the number of insurance policies taken out at around 8,000, and even if this number is likely to have increased by a few thousand since then it is still negligible compared to the total number of large and small aquaculture companies which amounts to several hundred thousand! It is striking that a large share of existing insurance policies is concluded in western industrialised countries while other regions, such as large parts of Asia, which accounts for around 80 per cent of global aquaculture production, are much less represented. What are the causes of this unsatisfactory situation? Do insurance companies simply shy away from the eff ort and cost of auditing farms or, in general, from the risks of fish farming? Or is it because fish farmers fear the costs of insurance and underestimate the benefits of insurance cover? Another noticeable feature of aquaculture insurance is that many insurers only offer products for a few species and production methods: mainly for salmon and shrimps. It is much more difficult to find useful offers for new species and innovative methods. This is understandable, because insurers need a broad database and industry-specific standards in order to realistically assess the risks of aquaculture production and calculate the resulting premiums. What has long been routine in car insurance, because there are detailed time series on the type, frequency and severity of possible damage that can even be grouped regionally and for specific car types, is still very difficult in aquaculture. The diversity of species and methods can hardly be forced into uniform, universally applicable standards.