Increasing production without detriment to quality and without environmental damage: the GFF defined the objectives of aquaculture

The “Aquaculture: 2050 breeding and development forecast” round table took place as part of the business program of the 2nd Global Fishery Forum. The event was attended by members of the Federal Agency for Fishery, heads of specialized foreign ministries and agencies, sectoral unions and associations, and large industrial organizations working in commercial breeding of hydrobionts, designing aquafarms and providing material supplies.

Experts discussed the global state of the sector, prospects of production growth, possible risks aquaculture development holds for environmental safety, and issues in product quality control.

The round table’s moderator, Ekaterina Tribilustova, Head Manager at EUROFISH, said that aquaculture provides 40% of the total global production and accounts for 50% of the fish food segment. According to FAO, total aquaculture production in the countries participation in the GFF is over 54 million tons.

Vasily Sokolov, Deputy Head of the Federal Agency for Fishery, said that currently, over 13,000 people work in the aquaculture sector in Russia. “Most enterprises today are small aquafarms and businesses that employ up to 5 people; nonetheless, they rise to the challenge of meeting the traditional fish products consumption demand,” Vasily Sokolov said.

One of the priorities in the work of the Federal Agency for Fishery is increasing the annual consumption of fish to 24–26 kg per capita. Given the non-sustainable resource base, even if some promising sites are yet underutilized, the role of breeding fish and seafood will be increasing.

Under the draft strategy of developing fisheries, the volume of aquaculture production is planned to triple by 2030. The Deputy Head of the Federal Agency for Fishery said that one of Russia’s advantages is good natural conditions for developing organic aquaculture, i.e. for growing high-quality products that meet the highest environmental standards. A special role should be played by pasturable breeding, primarily by salmon breeding that is rapidly developing and already yields about 20,000 tons of catch.

Currently, major inter-agency work is done on improving the legal framework for fish breeding, including veterinary checks that help fight counterfeiting and substituting poached catch for aquaculture products. Since fish breeding is one of  the most science-intensive areas in the fishery industry, major attention is given to research and scientific and technological cooperation.

Cui He, Vice President and Secretary General of the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance, spoke about  the practices and main trends in aquaculture management. China, the top aquaculture producer, now gears its policies in man-made breeding toward improving the quality of products and increasing environmental safety of production, not toward increasing production volumes. The industry mostly breeds fishes, seaweeds, and invertebrates; however, new environmental safety requirements now apply, including ensuring drainage and water disposal at fish farms. Another important area in China’s aquaculture policy is decreasing production costs, increasing its profitability, and developing the use of refrigerating technologies in transporting products.

Alexander Novikov, President of the Russian Union of Sturgeon Breeders, reminded the participants that Russia and Iran no longer hold the monopoly on breeding this valuable fish, and haven’t held it for a long time. Sturgeon breeding is developed in many countries, marketable caviar being its key element. Producing caviar is more difficult than growing fish for its flesh, and it also entails many risks factors. The expert predicts that sturgeon breeding will be changing. In the next 50 years, selection and hybridization will develop and, consequently, the caviar will differ from wild caviar, but it does not mean it will be worse, Mr. Novikov stressed.

Turgay Türkyilmaz Deputy Director General of the General directorate of fisheries and aquaculture at Turkey’s Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock, spoke about developing the sector in Turkey. In 34 years, this relatively new industry increased its production a hundred times through its policies of attracting investment and using foreign technologies while steering a course for bolstering environmental safety: aquafarms were pushed back 60 miles from the coastline. “We mostly breed trout, perch, and seabass, but Turkey is greatly interested in breeding species that require less oxygen and lesser amounts of animal protein,” Turgay Türkyilmaz emphasized.

Aquaculture production in South Korea reached 1.68 million tons, making the country the world’s 7th largest manufacturer. Kim Shin Kwon of the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute in South Korea, said that production is focused on breeding fish, mollusks, and 3–4 species of seaweeds. Smart technologies play an important part as they provide an automated system of control, monitoring, systematizing and analyzing data. Additionally, large-scale use of vaccination in fisheries will make it possible to cut expenses on antibiotics and to obtain products of better quality.

The session’s attendees also discussed the possibilities of developing Russian lines of trout and Atlantic salmon, prospects and principal areas in aquaculture development in the Black Sea, Azov and Caspian, and Far Eastern basins, ways of overcoming natural and climatic phenomena and socioeconomic challenges.