The Research Council of Norway issues revised HAVBRUK work program: Focus on sustainable seafood production
Sustainability and the environment are at the core of the revised work program for the Research Council program Aquaculture – An Industry in Growth (HAVBRUK). Public research funding will be targeted towards generating more knowledge about the societal aspects of an expanding aquaculture industry.
Norway is currently the world’s leading producer and exporter of salmon and rainbow trout and an important global supplier of knowledge, technology and equipment for aquaculture. Nevertheless, Norway accounts for only 1.7 per cent of the total aquaculture production volume, so the programme’s vision is ambitious: Norway – the world’s leading aquaculture nation.
The primary objective for the remainder of the HAVBRUK programme through 2015 is to acquire knowledge to achieve economically, environmentally and socially sustainable growth in Norwegian aquaculture.
The revised work program is the result of a broad-based process involving industry players and the government administration. The new document incorporates the priorities of the Government’s Strategy for an Environmentally Sustainable Norwegian Aquaculture Industry as well as current developments on the research front.
The industry’s main challenge
The Research Board of the former Division for Strategic Priorities gave the work programme its approval in December 2010, and fully supported the redirection of focus towards sustainability and environmental relevance in publicly funded aquaculture research. The main challenge facing the aquaculture industry is to achieve greater sustainability. Pressing problems such as sea lice, discharges of pollution and escapes of production fish must be solved if the industry is to continue to advance and grow.
The Research Board pointed out that the inclusive, broad-based process leading up to the revised work programme has helped to raise industry awareness and increase willingness to take responsibility for generating new knowledge.
“The time is ripe for stepping up research efforts and clarifying the division of responsibility between the public and the private sector,” asserts Research Board member Paul Birger Torgnes, who also has ties to the aquaculture industry.
Most important changes
The new work program sets out six thematic priority areas:
Sustainable seafood production
Feeds of the future
Other production species
Environment-friendly aquaculture technology
Genetics and selective breeding
The program’s activities will now be concentrated within a reduced number of thematic priority areas compared to the 21 thematic areas that were used under the previous work programme. The revised work program emphasises sustainability and environmental relevance within all of the thematic areas as well as challenges relating to the industry’s ability to adapt to climate change. Greater weight will also be placed on research questions that call for social science research expertise.
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