AquaVision 2012: aquaculture offers oceans of opportunities
Kofi Annan asks aquaculture industry to accelerate progress
The maximum number of delegates, 430 from 33 countries, filled the conference hall at AquaVision 2012 to hear Kofi Annan give his endorsement and encouragement to the aquaculture industry. Twice Secretary General of the United Nations and active ambassador, he delivered the keynote speech at the multi-stakeholder conference on aquaculture organised by Nutreco and its global fish feed company Skretting on 11-13 June in Stavanger, Norway. Kofi Annan spoke in the opening session about the great potential for aquaculture to expand to help feed the growing global population. Subsequent sessions covered the present and predicted status of aquaculture in Asia, where it is expanding rapidly, and current developments to overcome the challenges facing aquaculture.
Knut Nesse, Nutreco COO Aquaculture and soon to be Nutreco CEO, opened the conference. "Meeting tomorrow today is the theme we chose for AquaVision 2012. It is what we, the people here today, must do if aquaculture is to fulfil its potential. If we are to feed the world of tomorrow with healthy nutritious food, including fish and the other products of aquaculture such as shrimp, we must succeed. At the same time, the possibilities are tremendous and aquaculture really does offer oceans of opportunities."
Kofi Annan stated that aquaculture has a strong potential to contribute to reducing hunger in the world but at the same time he asked the major aquaculture companies represented at the global conference to continue to look beyond their bottom line and share knowledge and partner with the small fish farmers in developing countries. He congratulated the industry for its focus on improving sustainability and reviewing the industry's current approach to improving productivity and sustainability he commented; "I do not ask you to change direction, but I ask you to accelerate progress. We need to work together if we are to overcome world hunger."
Wout Dekker, Nutreco CEO due to step down in August 2012, gave the closing remarks on the second day. "Aquaculture has great fundamentals but to realise the potential of the blue revolution requires full commitment from all stakeholders. The issues around aquaculture have not changed greatly since the first AquaVision in 1996. At that time we felt the greatest threat to aquaculture was its reputation, which is why we organised AquaVision as a forum for all stakeholders to meet and discuss their issues. AquaVision and the alternating Agri Vision conferences continue to provide that forum. I have great confidence in the future of the aquaculture industry that I have been privileged to work in over these 30 years." As Wout Dekker finished his last AquaVision closing remarks, delegates around the hall stood to give him a standing ovation.
Árni Mathiesen, Assistant Director General at FAO-the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, described the emerging food security challenges with the growing world population and increasing incomes. FAO views aquaculture as a vital part of addressing this challenge in a sustainable manner. In the session delegates also heard that aquaculture has the potential to meet the protein needs of 500 million more people. This is an opportunity for aquaculture because it matches the preferences of middle class consumers for high standards of food safety and quality coupled with environmental consciousness. Enabling factors include political will, research, innovation and training.
Discussing developments to address the challenges facing aquaculture, Dr Alex Obach, Managing Director of Skretting Aquaculture Research Centre (ARC) described ARC advances. MicroBalance(TM) technology is enabling Skretting to reduce levels of fishmeal in feed for several species. ARC is now working on an equivalent for shrimp feed. Equivalent developments already led to significant reductions in fish oil contents of the feed and there is good potential to go further. "These are excellent and sustainable raw materials but the supply is limited. We need to identify alternatives for aquaculture to expand." This includes finding new sources for the polyunsaturated fatty acids EPA and DHA and optimising their retention in the fish. Other speakers covered more precise preparation of raw materials, the value of integrated pest management, the role of genomics and advances in fish vaccines.
AquaVision 2012 was the ninth in the biennial series of multi-stakeholder aquaculture conferences organised by Nutreco and Skretting. Nutreco has organised alternating multi stakeholder business conferences AquaVision and Agri Vision since 1996. AquaVision is now established as a world-class conference that attracts a diverse range of stakeholders to Stavanger every two years. AquaVision 2012 was sponsored by DNB Bank, Norway's largest financial services group.