Oslo Business Memo


A blue revolution in the making

On Day Zero of the 2012 North Atlantic Seafood Forum, FHF CEO Arne E. Karlsen outlined the funds priorities in collaboration with the industry itself.  Use of total marine raw materials as bi-products are among these priorities, according to Karlsen. Photo: Gorm K. Gaare.

On Day Zero of the 2012 North Atlantic Seafood Forum, FHF CEO Arne E. Karlsen outlined the funds priorities in collaboration with the industry itself.  Use of total marine raw materials as bi-products are among these priorities, according to Karlsen. Photo: Gorm K. Gaare.

A pilot plant for industrial production of microalgae will give strengthened and focused research on microalgae as marine resource for the future, and will help developing a knowledge platform on upscale systems to support  bioindustries.


A blue, marine, revolution is in the making.  It is the only way to meet a dramatic global food shortage.
Norwegian professor Øystein Lie (64) is a true blue revolutionaire.  From his office in Oslo Innovation Center, he manages the project «Bioeconomy 2020».  As the founder of GenoMar, a world leading company breeding and farming the no 1 whitefish Tilapia, executive manager of the innovation network MareLife, chairman of North Atlantic Seafood Forum, he is devoted to the enormous challenge of finding solutions to combat hunger and malnutrition.  And he also is a strong supporter of making it possible to do good business in saving the world.
- The bioeconomy sector is regarded as a prime future growth industry candidate. The “blue” part will play an increasing and major future role in this economy, says  Lie. He emphasizes that the global marine biotech and life science expertise must go hand-in-hand with the private sector players and management authorities to advance the field in the most sustainable and efficient way: we are all “in the same boat”.
According to professor Lie, the global macro picture and mega trends support this statement entirely: Supply of food, human health (food shortage and malnutrition in developing countries and life style diseases in industrial countries), energy, water  is the most great challenges of mankind.  It can best be addressed by a strengthened ocean approach applying contemporary marine biotechnology and marine sciences with corresponding great business potentials.
The fast growing population will reach 9 billion by 2050, and the marine sector is the answer to meet the escalating food demands. The vast majority of global food raw material production is still terrestrial (agricultural) based, giving approximately 7,5 billion tonnes.  Marine based foods production amounts to approximately 140 million tonnes, only.


- We are just in the starting blocks of the marine response to global food supply. Global agriculture is facing restrictions as of land and water and has a falling growth curve and can thus not meet with the above described escalating needs, says prof. Lie.
Marine food has a series of advantages in terms of: Lower carbon foot print, less land or area needs, no water supply problem, healthier foods to prevent coronary diseases, abundant feed raw material for the fast growing aquaculture,  and not at least if pursuing new marine sources at lower trophic levels and by moving into algae production.
The “blue” opportunity is great, according to the Norwegian professor: More than three quarters of the globe is covered by water and we have not been in the neighborhood of sustainably exploiting the ocean riches combined with the untapped potentials of cultivating aquatic and marine organisms.
The ocean itself is the world largest aquaculture. Nothing that is implemented in captivity can ever compare. Global ocean annual net biomass production amounts to at least 100 billion tonnes.


- We should further develop aquaculture both as a main new food wave and as a mean to lower the pressure on the wild resources. Hence, we should and need to do both to be able to address the above speed of demands, sayes Lie.
Only a few species out of the potential candidates have been cultivated and still only 5 percent of globally farmed species have been subject to state of the art selective breeding and domestication. Also there is a great untapped potential in farming and ranching algae;  macro algae (seaweeds) and not least microalgae. The latter also in controlled reactor based production systems, photo bioreactors.
According to Lie the list of challenges and corresponding opportunities are currently all to some degree addressed by the management authorities, the scientific community and highly competent commercial players.
These players ranges from classical fisheries (bony fishes and shellfishes) and new fisheries (krill, calanus and other zooplankton spp, integrated seafood operators,  to the growing biomarine sector and not least: the solution providers (fishery technologies, aquaculture solutions to cope with all its challenges: vaccines, feeds and feed regimes, breeding, engineering solutions etc).
The big common challenges and opportunities (the macro picture), can only be met if we merger public-private forces in a more comprehensive way and also optimize the frameworks and incentives. This is not an exercise of one party. We also need cross talk and systems approach across scientific disciplines and commercial.


The strong growth in the biomarine and solution provider sectors are supported by dedicated R&D funding, examplified by the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund FHF 28 million euro budget in 2012.  On Day Zero of the 2012 North Atlantic Seafood Forum, FHF CEO Arne E. Karlsen outlined the funds priorities in collaboration with the industry itself.  Use of total marine raw materials as bi-products are among these priorities, according to Karlsen. Genome sequenses are made available to industry for maximum utilization to acieve better breeding programs, escapee tracing, vaccines and disease prevention as well as improved feed and knowlege of external factor influences.
According to Arne E. Karlsen we now have a unique R&D cooperation resulting in unique industry value.  He emphasized the ongoing projects on finding suitable principles for using roe, milt, viscera and belly flaps as well as finding suitable processing principles for separation and extraction of the selected bi-product fractions.
- The impact is a potential for radically increasing the profit margins for the pelagic processing industry and increasing the value of the current pelagic fish production by introducing extracted high-quality bi-product fractions to existing and new markets, the FHF-head concluded.
When talking about new and less utilized marine resources, Thor Sigfusson, founder and managing director of Iceland Ocean Cluster, said that 45.000 tons of the cod is discarded each year. According to Sigfusson it is possible to increase the value of "the EU cod"  from 12 euros to 14-16 euros with better cut, treatment, cooling etc.  Examples of bi-products from cod is: Marine-derived tissue regeneration product (Kerecis), products from cod liver oil products (LÝSI), hand- & foot creams, contain Omega3, suitable for diabetics (Kerecis) and natural fish stock for food processing (Northtaste).


- Since the beginning of salmon farming around 40 years ago, technology development has contributed to making salmon one of the top export articles out of Norway, says dr. Petter Arnesen, technical director, Marine Harvest ASA.  Production is now more than 1 million tons and makes salmon farming the biggest meat producer in Norway. Export value is more than 30 billion NOK and together with exports from the traditional fisheries Norway is now, in value, ranked as the second biggest seafood exporter in the world. Only beaten by China.
- Biotechnology has played an important role in development of effective vaccines, new feed formulations, and effective breeding programs, and further development of the industry will depend on continued advances in biotechnology. The salmon genome is currently being sequenced through an international project with private and public funding, and represents an important new research resource.
According to dr. Arnesen, the continued growth of the salmon farming industry is to a large degree dependent on solving environmental challenges related to farmed/wild salmon interactions and reduced use of marine raw materials (fish meal/fish oil) in the feed. -  Prevention of escapes through construction of stronger farming cage structures, more effective sea lice control through non-medicinal treatments, and development of new feed resources, especially raw materials rich in omega 3, are among the most important focus areas, says Arnesen.


Hans Kleivdal, senior researcher at UNI Research in Bergen, outlines a real " moon landing" at Mongstad petroleum refinery and CO2 plant on the North Sea Coast of  Norway:  How to make use of CO2 sequestration and aquafeed production by industrial microalgae production.
- We have the oportunity for a biotechnology "moon landing", said Kleivdal in his Day Zero speech on the microalgae project. On the conference in March Kleivdal gave many answers to the question why establish a pilot plant for industrial production of midroalgae at Mongstad.
 It will give strenthened and focused research on microalgae as marine resource for the future, and will help developing a knowledge platform on upscale systems to support  bioindustries.  Kleivdal emphasizes how the utilization of CO2 as a resource will be a proactive alternative to costly subsurface storage. An industrial production will provide omega-3-rich algae biomass for aquafeed to reduce effect of shortfall on fishoil, and not at least contribute to sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry.
Rene Wijffels, professor at Wageningen University and science director at AlgaePARC outlines the research objectives of the Dutch algae program:
-First of all it is a question of developing a scalable algae technology to establish sustainable production of bulk products as biofuels, food, feed, chemistry and materials. The AlgaePARC objectives is to be an international centre of applied research, and to intermediate between basic research and applications.  It is a hunt for development of competitive technology in terms of economis and sustainability and acquire information  for full scale algae plants to produce algal bioamass for food, feed, chemicals and fuels.

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