Aquaculture: Sustainably produced food from the sea

Dr Matthew Slater, Head of the Aquaculture Research Group at the Alfred Wegener Institute.



Interdisciplinary research

Almost half of all fishery products eaten worldwide now come from aquaculture farming, whereby only one in three fish or crabs grew up in the sea. The rest were bred in freshwater facilities. Experts nevertheless predict a great future for food production in the sea - provided that sustainability concepts can be implemented and the environmental footprint of pond and cage farming can be minimized.

This is where the Aquaculture Research Group at the Alfred Wegener Institute comes in. Its members are investigating which new breeding, husbandry and feeding methods can be used to grow sufficient fish and seafood without polluting the environment. This happens, for example, through the wild catching of anchovies, sprats and herring, which are then processed into fish feed, or through the excessive use of nutrients and medicines, all of which pollute the surrounding coastal waters.

For these and other problems of fish farming in tanks or cages, we at AWI are looking for environmentally friendly solutions that can be used in many places. For example, a fish feed we have developed is made from native arable plants and thus conserves marine fish stocks. In our modern recirculating systems at the Centre for Aquaculture Research in Bremerhaven, we combine fish, mussel and plant breeding in such a way that all three groups of organisms benefit from each other in the best possible way, create the best possible living conditions for each other and no nutrients or pathogens enter the environment because the new breeding and husbandry facilities are self-contained.

In addition, we investigate in various market studies which foods produced in aquaculture are bought by the customer, which plant technologies the industry needs and how plants have to be operated in order to represent a safe and future-oriented workplace. With our solutions and concepts, we want to contribute to ensuring the nutrition of our growing world population in a sustainable way.