Aquabest produced solutions for Baltic fish farming

For the past three years, the international Aquabest project to promote sustainable aquaculture has been seeking solutions for fish farming in the Baltic Sea region. The project’s results include developing fish farming technology, determining the location of new fish farms and influencing legislation that governs operations. The starting point was the idea that as the problems of Baltic fish farming are shared, the solutions could be shared too. The Aquabest project was coordinated by the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute.

Fish farming can be steered to areas in which conflicts with other operators are as small as possible but where the conditions for fish farming are favourable. Ten new fish farming sites were identified in Jämtland in Sweden. Bringing these into use will increase production in Sweden several times over.

- The most important thing in guidance on locations is to involve stakeholder groups from the very start of the planning process, as was done in Sweden.  "In future, guidance on locations should take on an official and binding role as part of planning the use of sea areas," emphasises project coordinator Jouni Vielma from the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute.

Aquabest has been particularly influential in the updating of environmental legislation currently under way in Finland and the Åland Islands. The project made concrete suggestions to make the administrative process of applying for permits and renewing permits less burdensome. In legislation attention should also be paid to the bigger picture.  In the EU, Water and Marine Framework Directives are applied in different ways even between the Baltic Sea countries. A harmonised interpretation of the directives is required in the future.

Fish farming on the agenda

Denmark has longstanding experience of recirculating aquaculture. The Aquabest project ran courses on using and adopting this latest technology for fish farming experts from different countries. During the project the Danish recirculating aquaculture technology was also exported to countries including Belarus. Danish partners also developed technology which enables further reduction of nitrogen emissions in recirculating aquaculture.

On the basis of trials carried out in Sweden, Germany and Finland, feed made from Baltic Sea fish is particularly suited to fish farming. However, the use of Baltic Sea feed is not a quick fix solution, as many financial and practical problems still need to be resolved with those operating in the sector. 

- "It has been good to see that the debate which has come about thanks to the many meetings with decision-makers and stakeholder groups held during the project has put fish farming on the agenda in a new way, especially in Sweden and the Åland Islands," says Vielma. 

The end results of the project have been summarised as brief recommendations, which it is hoped that the operators and official bodies in the sector will build on further in their own work.  Fish farming has been the world's fastest growing food production sector in the past twenty years. In the Baltic Sea region, development has not, however, been equally favourable.

The project was carried out jointly by 13 partners from eight Baltic Sea countries. The project was financed by the EU's Baltic Sea Region Programme.

The first day of the final seminar of the project will be able to be watched live online at www.aquabestproject.eu on 5.2.2014 at 12:30-16:45

Further information from the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute:
senior research scientist Jouni Vielma, tel. +358 (0)295 327 522