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GOAL 2013 blog: Shrimp -- a year of crisis

The global aquaculture industry is checking in at Paris for GAA's annual GOAL conference. Check back regularly for IntraFish's live coverage of this year's conference.

Thursday, Oct. 10, 2.26 p.m. CET

See you next year in Vietnam

GOAL 2014 will take place in Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Travis Larkin, president of Seafood Exchange, announced at the end of his closing remarks.

We'll see you there!

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, Oct. 10, 1.44 p.m. CET

Shrimp: A year of crisis

This year hasn’t been easy for anyone involved in shrimp, be it farmers, processors, exporters or suppliers -- a fact the last three days at GOAL showed once more.

Retailers and foodservice suppliers were among the ones who have been hit by rising prices and the shortage in supply.

Scott Williams, manager of quality assurance and product development for BJ’s Wholesale Club, said his customers are increasingly “downgrading” and moving into smaller shrimp sizes “to get more for their money.”

Nevertheless, sales are about at the same level as in previous years.

Beth Grant, commodities procurement manager for US Foods, added some of her clients have already dropped out, as prices are rising too high.

“Only last month one major food chain has taken shrimp completely off their menu because prices are too high. “

The situation in the United Kingdom is similar, Chris Brown, head of sustainable sourcing for Asda, told the audience.

Prices have gone up, consumption has gone down, and while the retailer is trying to promote them, shoppers are less and less interested, he said. “That’s the reality.”

Laky Zervudachi of Directs Seafoods is sharing the woes, saying “one of our customers – a restaurant chain [Jamie Oliver] just pulled out of shrimp completely.”

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, Oct. 10, 1.29 pm

Retailers’ view on potential new African supply

Is there an industry worth looking at in Africa and the Middle East from a retailer’s point of view, in terms of scale and alternative product, panelists were asked at the second retail panel at GOAL in Paris Thursday.

“It will be interesting to see how it plays out over the next 10-15 years,” said Mike Berthet, director of fish and seafood for M&J Seafood/Brakes.

“The North African coast is essentially the Mediterranean, where Greece and Turkey have had the stranglehold on bass and bream production.

”If North African countries produce bass an bream then they will probably look at selling to the European market, and there will also be opportunities for them to export to China and the rest of Asia as well, he said.

Also technology in the industry is developing fast, Berthet added, meaning the whole region might “develop faster than we perhaps think.”

Ally Dingwall, aquaculture and fisheries manager for Sainsbury’s, agreed that inevitably there will be a requirement for growth in other countries as demand increases.

“But in terms of readiness to supply, customers trust us to source sustainably, so our supply base will have to meet these standards,” he said.

“It is a challenging issue and will take time.”

For Carl Salamone, VP of seafood sustainability for Wegman’s Food Markets, the issue is more about introducing new species into markets.

“We have already seen this with sea bream from Greece, where we have had to educate consumers about what it is and how to cook it.“So the main challenge is about introducing new, different species from around the world, and putting a lot of effort behind the new products,” he said.

-- Dominic Welling

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Thursday, Oct. 10, 1.26 p.m. CET

US consumers lagging behind on sustainability

US retailers and foodservice suppliers are moving closer to reaching their sustainability goals, but shoppers and consumers are still lagging behind.

Beth Grant, commodities procurement manager for US Foods, said "American consumer is drastically behind to our friends in the United Kingdom, Europe and Canada. We’re still trying to figure out what sustainability means."

From a foodservice perspective there are "a percentage of chefs" who buy with sustainable sourcing in mind, she said.

"Right now it’s still more of a price-driven decision," she said. "But it’s going to grow and it will become bigger."

Chris Brown, head of ethical and sustainable sourcing for UK retailer Asda, named "media attention" for one of the reasons why Europe is so far ahead.

"Media attention in the UK is very high and we are under total scrutiny," he told the audience.

Nevertheless, US retailers are continuing with their various strategies in the field. Belgium supermarket chain Delhaize, which has about 65 of its business on the US east coast with 1,400 stores, "intends to be a leader in sustainability by 2020," as Kimberly Taylor, category director of meat and seafood for Delhaize America said.

"That’s what we working on now. It’s non-negotiable in our team of within our company," she said. 

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, Oct. 10, 1.18 p.m. CET

Retailers’ sustainability ‘surprise’

Retailers are surprised at some suppliers’ slowness to become certified, according to a retail panel at GOAL in Paris.

“I’m surprised some suppliers still don’t quite get it,” Mike Berthet, director of fish and seafood for M&J Seafood/Brakes.“It’s also a challenge to get some processors to get certified,” he said.

“I’m amazed some companies do not see the steamroller coming, but unless some suppliers do not get fully certified we will have to move on,” he said.

Ally Dingwall, aquaculture and fisheries manager for Sainsbury’s, was equally "surprised" some “are still lagging behind.

”However, Sainsbury’s is committed to ensuring everything is independently certified by 2020, he said.

Likewise, Robert Fields, senior director of meat, seafood, and gourmet for Sam’s Club, a division of Walmart in the US, said “some suppliers still have a long way to go.”

-- Dominic Welling

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Thursday, Oct. 10, 1.15 p.m. CET

Consumer versus shopper

How will consumers cope with rising prices, when they are used to promotional deals and getting products at a certain price, panelists were asked at a retail panel session at GOAL in Paris.

First of all, the industry needs to do more to promote the health benefits of seafood to counter availability and pricing challenges, said Ally Dingwall, aquaculture and fisheries manager for Sainsbury’s.

But is also depends on the consumer, he said.

Some consumers are engaged, some are not really aware, while others just do not want to know, panelists agreed.“It is also important to understand the difference between consumer behavior versus shopper behavior."

A consumer can be sat at home reading the newspaper and engaging in the debate, but as soon as he goes to the shop and is looking for something to eat, he becomes a shopper and ethical issues are not so important, he said.

“The customer has to feel good about what they are buying,” added Carl Salamone, VP of seafood sustainability for Wegman’s Food Markets.“We as retailers have to help them do that,” he said.

-- Dominic Welling

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Thursday, Oct. 10, 12. 56 p.m. CET

Seafood suppliers look for ‘light on the horizon’

After a challenging year or more, seafood suppliers and retailers “could do with a bit of light on the horizon,” said Mike Berthet, director of fish and seafood for M&J Seafood/Brakes.

Salmon prices going “through the roof” followed problems of disease in Scotland, and the industry had not even recovered from that before the EMS situation happened, Berthet said at the second retail panel of the day at GOAL in Paris.

However “we are all in the same boat, and could just do with a bit of light on the horizon” he said.

Furthermore, despite these challenges and the increase in seafood demand, this will not affect retailers’ attitudes to sustainable sourcing, all the panelists agreed.

“Sustainability is a given,” said Ally Dingwall, aquaculture and fisheries manager for Sainsbury’s in the United Kingdom.

“It is enshrined in the business. There will always be challenges, but that doesn’t change how we do business. We will weather the storm, and carry on with our usual approach,” he said.

Carl Salamone, VP of seafood sustainability for Wegman’s Food Markets, argued if anything “sustainability is even more important in trying times, and it is important to let suppliers recognize that."

-- Dominic Welling

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Thursday, Oct. 10, 12.39 p.m. CET

Mussels top the aquaculture charts in France

Mussels are the most consumed aquaculture product in France.

The French consume around 190,000 metric tons of mussels each year, 95 percent of which are farmed, according to Marie Christine Monfort, senior consultant at Marketing Seafood and Sea-Matters.

This was followed by Scottish salmon (180,000 tons – 98 percent farmed); trout (135,000 tons – 100 percent farmed); shrimp (130,000 tons – 70 percent farmed); and oysters (80,000 tons – 100 percent farmed).

In total, France is one of the largest, if not the largest, aquaculture markets in Europe. The country consume around 2.2 million tons of farmed seafood – 0.5 million tons of which is produced domestically, 1.5 million tons are imported, Monfort said.

-- Dominic Welling

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Thursday, Oct. 10, 12.37 p.m. CET

Europe’s ‘patchwork’ market

Europe should not be thought of as one market, but a diversity of many markets with many different consumption habits, said Marie Christine Monfort, senior consultant at Marketing Seafood and Sea-Matters.

Potentially the largest seafood market in the world, with consumption of around 13 million metric tons per year, it is easy to think of the EU as one big market, Monfort said.

However it is “a patchwork of different markets” made up of different countries in terms of “sizes, habits and consumption per capita.”

Countries range from consumption per capita of 60 kg per year in Portugal to only 6 kg per capita per year in some eastern European countries, she said. The average consumption in Europe is around 25 kg per person per year.

Consumption habits vary as well from country to country, in terms of species and presentation -- sardines are a big hit in Portugal and not so much in Denmark, she said.

Distribution differs between the countries as well, some countries distribute primarily via restaurants while others via retail.

“Different countries in Europe have different sensitivities to environmental issues as well. Take Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall in the United Kingdom for example, you should offer him free to France so we can understand the environmental issues better,” Monfort said.

One thing Monfort did warn about however was that the EU may lose some of its attractiveness if conditions to enter the market keep moving and become “more and more stringent and difficult to reach.”

-- Dominic Welling

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Thursday, Oct. 10, 12.08 p.m. CET

Transparency, communication, sustainability

Sustainability is a key for both retail and foodservice and “not negotiable,” members of the first retail panel at the last day of GOAL agreed.

At the same time, they called for more cooperation among stakeholders -- especially suppliers.

 “What frustrates me is the duplication of efforts,” Huw Thomas, fisheries and aquaculture manager for UK retailer Morrisons said. “A lot of people are doing the same thing but don’t talk to each other.”

Communication could reduce the cost-burden and improve efficiency for both retailers and suppliers, he said.

Laky Zervudachi, group sustainability director for UK foodservice supplier Direct Seafoods, picked up on the notion, saying “it all comes down to communication. “

Joe Zhou, director of purchasing for Darden Restaurants in the United States, agreed with the two. “Communication is critical as well as transparency and consistency in our standards.”

Scott Williams, manager of quality assurance and product development for BJ’s Wholesale Club, said since it started to cooperate closer with suppliers on their times , purchasing runs smoother and more cost-efficient.

“We ask them about supply shortages, predicted rises in prices, to help our planning,” he said. “It’s really timelines and costs.”

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, Oct. 10, 11.27 a.m. CET

A journey towards health

The biggest barrier to eating seafood for US consumers is the lack of confidence in knowing how to select, buy and eat seafood, Linda Cornish, executive director at Seafood Nutrition Partnership, said.

Currently only one in five people eat fish or seafood twice a week, as recommended as part of a healthy diet. "My goal is to double consumption, move from one out of five to two out of five," she said.

About 70 percent of the diseases are preventable, she told the audience, citing the Global Burden of Disease study. In addition, growing obesity -- two thirds of the US population is overweight -- is yet another problem seafood could tackle.

"It’s not only the seafood’s industry’s burden to bear," she said, but it can definitely do its part.

She's now embarking on a three-year campaign to bring seafood to the forefront of consumers' minds, and "inspire a healthier America."

"I’m raising $15 million (€11.1 million) to create a campaign. Today I have $5 million (€3.7 million) in commitments," she said. Half of the total sum will come from the seafood industry. 

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, Oct. 10, 11.07 a.m. CET

ASMI certification a win for wild Alaskan salmon, GOAL says

The GOAL audience is welcoming the arrival of the Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) program, as an alternative to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for Alaskan wild salmon.

In an audience poll, more than 40 percent welcomed the move (see graph below).

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-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, Oct. 10, 10.54 a.m. CET

Bleak outlook for Mexican shrimp

Exports of Mexican shrimp into the United States might see an incredible drop this year, from a market value of $15 million (€11.1 million) last year to a projected $8 million (€5.9 million) this year, Bill Hoenig, vice president at shrimp producer Delta Blue, told IntraFish during the coffee break.

The reason? A combination of the early mortality syndrome (EMS) disease outbreak and the continuous high domestic demand.

"Production is down 70 percent this year," he said, and almost everything is gobbled up by Mexicans themselves.

The company saw two of its smaller farms affected by the disease, he said, but the bigger operations in California have not been hit, a combination of luck and skills, as Hoenig said.

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, Oct. 10. 09.43 a.m. CET

OECD head outlines importance of ‘green growth’ for aquaculture

Both aquaculture and fisheries need to pay more attention to issue of green growth, Carl-Christian Schmidt, head of the fisheries policy division at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) told delegates at the final day of GOAL in Paris.

Green growth can increase the overall profitability of the sector, but there needs to be a more comprehensible regulatory system in place.

“Tougher regulatory systems are not always more costly,” he said, “and can lead to more profit.”

“Begin green or going for green growth will make the sector more competitive.”

However there is a fine line between over and under regulation he warned.  “Over or under regulation can have serious impacts on economies,” he said.

In his key note speech, Schmidt referred to Norway’s 2009 ‘Strategy for an Environmentally Sustainable Norwegian Aquaculture Industry’ as a successful example of introducing a green growth strategy, which introduced licensing and restricted the use of antibiotics among other things.

The result saw antibiotics use reduce from 50 tons in 1990 to approximately 1 ton in 2009, he said, but over the same period the country’s trout and salmon production increased from less than 150,000 tons to approximately 900,000 tons.

Furthermore, the key element in the green growth strategy is not the fish but the ocean. The ocean is the natural environment where it all takes place, it is the “natural capital,” Schmidt said. As a result an integrated ocean management model is needed.

One other issue is that government structures are simply not “up to speed” he said.

Getting licenses to build a fish farm can be laborious, having to go to a number of different government bodies and ministries, “these bodies do not talk to one another and that is a real problem,” said Schmidt.

“To achieve comprehensive green growth we need a new way of thinking regarding ocean governance, within which we can better gauge and make necessary trade-offs,” Schmidt said.

-- Dominic Welling

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Wednesday, Oct. 9. 06.37 p.m. CET

CP Foods could drop fishmeal as early as 2017

Earlier this year CP Foods announced it would drop all fishmeal from its shrimp feed by 2021, despite revealing just a few months before it had joined the International Fishmeal and Fish oil Organization (IFFO).

The company’s senior vice president Robins McIntosh was at GOAL in Paris to explain himself and clear up any “confusion."

Spurred on by UK chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s fish fight, and his own personal goal to make shrimp farming more sustainable, McIntosh and CP Foods came up with a ’10 point plan’ which included reducing the amount of fishmeal in the company’s feed.

This was an already existing goal for the company and it has already reduced the percentage from around 20 percent 10 years ago to around 10 percent today.

Now the plan is to reduce the amount to zero, which the company could feasibly do by 2017 by using vegetable replacements, McIntosh said.

However, he did add this would only happen “if there is a requirement to do so.”

“If there are responsible fisheries in the Gulf of Thailand by 2021 and it’s reasonably priced, we will still use fishmeal,” he said.

“But it is a complicated issue and will take the joint efforts of many people over many years.”

-- Dominic Welling

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Wednesday, Oct. 9 14.02 p.m. CET

Finding an alternative to fishmeal, fishoil

About 70 to 80 percent of the global fishmeal and oil production is used to feed farmed fish and seafood, Steven Hart, executive director the Soy Aquaculture Alliance (SAA), said.

"There is very little chance to increase that," he said, adding he believes soybean can step in -- for both carnivorous and herbivorous fish.

"I don't believe there is a carnivorous fish, all they need is specific nutrients," he told the audience at GOAL.

SAA, which wasn't launched too long ago, is now taking on the task to coordinate research efforts in the field, with the goal to increase aquaculture production and conduct plant-based research.

A recently conducted research study on juvenile yellow perch already showed that trial feed based on soybeans and no share of fishmeal performed well, he said.

The fish gained 694 percent in weight compared to 602 percent for commercial feed with a 20 percent share of fishmeal. Also the food conversion ratio increased from 0.85bc with the commercial feed to 0.93a, he said.

In a recent meeting, the organization defined three key research gaps, which includes the taurine requirements of fish (how efficient it this 11th amino acid for carnivores?), to determine the impact of soy-based feeds on the fish's waste output, as well as the broodstock development when fish are fed with a plant-based feed.

The studies -- five in total -- will be completed in March 2014, he said.

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, Oct. 9. 12.57 p.m. CET

IFFO dispels fish feed myths

Unlike the myths that bounce around the press, only a maximum 1.4 kg of whole fish are used in fishmeal to produce 1 kg of farmed fish, according to Andrew Mallison, director general of IFFO.

If these fish were in the wild around 10 kg of whole fish would be needed to feed just 1 kg, he added.

In terms of the ratio of whole fish used in all feeds, this figure falls even further to 0.3 kg for every 1 kg of farmed fish produced, Mallison added, giving the industry “a good claim to talk about environmental sustainability.”

Meanwhile, less and less whole fish is going into fishmeal. In fact, 35 percent of all total fishmeal is coming from by-products and trimmings, he said.

-- Dominic Welling

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Wednesday, Oct. 9. 12.37 p.m. CET

All about soy

The demand for soy in aquaculture is projected to increase by 4 million metric tons by 2020, from 10 million metric tons today, Michael Cremer, senior international aquaculture program advisor for the US Soybean Export Council, said.

At the same time, the market value of soy proteins for aquaculture is set to reach a $4.7 billion (€3.5 billion) in 2020.

Demand for soy is increasing in China -- which is high on the export council's hit list for marketing activities.

Other opportunities for growth are seen in southeast Asia, the Americans as wells as India, Egypt, the Mediterranean and Turkey.

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, Oct. 9, 12.14 p.m. CET

Need for investments

One thing all countries presented in the Africa and Middle East panel at GOAL 2013 on Wednesday morning have in common is the need for investments -- and North Africa is no different.

The region, which includes Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, currently produces about 2.5 million metric tons of fish annually, which comes to about 35.2 percent of the total seafood output.

With a coastline of 57,000 kilometers, and 200,000 square kilometers of lakes, rivers and man-made ponds, the potential for growth is a given, Izzat H Feidi, fisheries consultant and former FAO official, said.

Egypt is currently the leading producer in northern Africa, and has seen some impressive growth in recent years, especially for tilapia. While in 1994 the country's total aquaculture output stood at 57,000 metric tons, this has grown to about 1 million metric tons in 2011, also due to the rising per capita consumption of fish and seafood in the country itself.

The government now plans to increase aquaculture landings to 1.5 million metric tons by 2017, Feidi said, which translates to a growth rate of 15 percent annually.

Tunisia is the second-largest producer and also here the government aims to increase the output. In Algeria, Lybia and Morocco the sector is still in its beginnings, Feidi said, but incentives for investments are there.

It won't be easy, however, as constraints remain, Feidi said, especially in terms of infrastructure, data availability and relatively high input costs.

Nevertheless, he is convinced, the northern African aquaculture industry is at a "take-off stage."

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, Oct. 9, 11.47 a.m. CET

In Africa, you must be prepared for the long haul

Developing a successful aquaculture business in sub-Saharan Africa is fraught with challenges, according to Lake Harvest’s Patrick Blow.

“You will have to be passionate about what you are doing and be prepared to be there for the long term,” he said.

Getting things done in Africa is not easy or fast primarily because of political and economic instability, finding capital, and training employees is also a challenge because “you have to start from scratch,” he said.

However, finding quality feed is “probably the biggest issue,” according to Blow, “it’s easier to make it yourself,” he told delegates at GOAL in Paris.

“You will also have to be a fully integrated company,” and be prepared to do everything yourself.

Blow’s farm in Northern Zimbabwe produces around 10,000 metric tons of tilapia each year for markets in Europe, predominantly the UK, however in recent years big markets have been developing in sub-Saharan Africa in particular for fresh, whole round tilapia, he said.

-- Dominic Welling

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Wednesday, Oct. 9, 11.31 a.m. CET

Yemen aquaculture remains ‘embryonic’

Despite several attempts by private and public sectors, aquaculture in the coastal areas of Yemen remains embryonic, according to Tim Huntington, director of Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd.

“Essentially there is only one cage in the north,” he said, which is a privately owned shrimp farm.

“However major expansion is planned over the next five years, focusing mainly on tilapia and seabass,” Huntington said.

There is a strong need to increase fish production in the face of declining wild catch in the area, Huntington told delegates on the second day of the GOAL conference in Paris.

Meanwhile the long, largely underdeveloped and environmentally diverse coastlines have “considerable potential.”

According to Huntington the Yemen government is also keen on developing aquaculture and in its National Fisheries Strategy 2012-2025 said the development of the industry was “essential” for coastal livelihoods and food security.

However, the country still faces a number of challenges, including insufficient legal and regulatory frameworks, uncertain planning and land tenure arrangements, and political and economic instability.

-- Dominic Welling

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Wednesday, Oct. 9, 11.27 a.m. CET

Saudi Arabia leads aquaculture charge in Middle East

With 3,800 km of coastline and a population consuming 12 kg of seafood per person, per year, there is a big potential for aquaculture development in Saudi Arabia, according to Tim Huntington, director of Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd.

Historically the country has produced species such as shrimp, tilapia and sturgeon but a “second wave” of aquaculture is emerging in marine cage farming with species such as yellowtail, Red sea bream and sea bass on the rise.

In short Saudi aquaculture is “growing rapidly,” while opportunities also exist for low trophic aquaculture, said Huntington, as well as “nucleus estate” cage farming cluster projects, and recirculation technologies.

Despite this problems still hinder growth in the kingdom, primarily convoluted permitting and land tenure arrangements as well as biosecurity issues, he added.

-- Dominic Welling

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Wednesday, Oct. 9, 10.56 a.m. CET

Mixed success for aquaculture development in Arabian Peninsula

Spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, which has seen good aquaculture development in recent years, other countries in the Arabian Peninsula such as Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, and Qatar have had mixed successes.

According to aquaculture consultant Patrick White, most of these countries are only just beginning to get the right technology and business models in place, while Qatar is in very early stages of development.

There are some commercial cage farms already in place in the UAE and near the port of Doha, for example, while Kuwait is expanding its hatchery technology.

Popular species in the area include tilapia, sea bream, sturgeon and white shrimp, but there are opportunities to develop many other warmwater species as well.

Aquaponics is also a major consideration for the region, White said.

In terms of technologies, infrastructure and potential systems for the Arabian Peninsula countries, clusters of small cages are likely said White, while recirculation technology is a “good system for the region”.

There are some constraints that need to be addressed if the region wants to become a major player in the industry, he added, such as rationalizing land and sea allocation for development, the training of technicians and managers, research on domestication of local species, not to mention the risk from algal blooms and the shallow waters in the Arabian Gulf.

-- Dominic Welling

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Wednesday, Oct. 9, 10.44 a.m. CET

Aquaculture's next frontier

"I think this is wrong," Jim Greenberg, chairman of AquaFarms Corp., said in reaction to a poll on how important aquaculture development in the Middle East and Africa is for the businesses of this year's goal visitors (see graph below).

The potential is still unrecognized but "huge," he said. "But the industry needs technical partners, with sufficient capital to remain committed in the long run."

He admitted there is great capital availability within the region and one would have to tap into these resources.

Greenberg also warned not to put all the countries in the Middle East or Africa "into one lump. Each country is different, with different laws, frameworks and investment incentives.

"It’s almost the last region in the world that is totally underdeveloped in terms of aquaculture," he said.

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-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, Oct. 9, 9.36 a.m. CET

Why invest in Oman?

H.E. Hamed Al Oufi, Oman's undersecretary for fisheries, ministry for agriculture and fisheries wealth, kicked off the first panel of the second day of GOAL 2013 with a very clear message: "Come and invest in Oman."

Oman is finally ready to "invite serious players" to the country who can drive its aspiring aquaculture sector. As in many other countries, the fisheries sector -- with catches of about 191,000 metric tons, valued at $355 million -- is facing limitations.

The journey on aquaculture started six years ago, when the government set out the strategy and vision to reach an aquaculture output of 200,000 metric tons within the next three decades, based on an annual growth rate of about 15 percent.

A regulatory framework is in place, and the incentives for investors are attractive, Al Oufi said. Site and license application and allocation systems have been streamlined for faster processing, and the country aims to offer a "one-stop-shop" for easy success for investors.

In addition, a full sector gap analysis has been completed and investments are now targeted on hatcheries, feed mills and other infrastructure to support commercial development, he said. Also the strategic location close to export markets should be another key incentive for investors.

Potential species included abalone, grouper, cobia, breams, tuna, shrimp native to Oman, and seriola.

"We invite people to talk to us, to visit Oman and present their business ideas," Al Oufi said.

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, Oct. 9, 9.18 a.m. CET

All male shrimp populations earn scientist innovation award

Day 2 at GOAL kicks off with the Global Aquaculture Innovation Award being given to Amir Sagi from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.

The award, sponsored by Novus International, was presented to Sagi for his research work into crustacean aquaculture and biotechnology to produce all-male populations of Macrobrachium rosenbergii shrimp through RNA Interference.

“Crustacean aquaculture is still growing at a very fast pace, at roughly 11 percent per year in the last decade,” Sagi said. “In order to continue at this pace you have to increase efficiencies and yields.”

With this particular shrimp the males grow much larger than the females and deliver much greater accumulative yields and around 60 percent higher income when farmed separately, he said.

-- Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 8.02 p.m. CET

More data, more funding

Aquaculture is far too lacking in marketing and data for an industry of its size and is therefore far too underfunded, according to panelists at a break out session at GOAL in Paris.

The main issue when it comes to funding is not only the fact that the industry is high risk, but also that there is not enough data available to make decent risk assessments.

“The industry needs to provide more information,” said James Anderson, head of the global program on fisheries and aquaculture at the World Bank.

“There is a long way to go before it will hit any kind of capital ceiling, but at the moment it is high risk with a lack of information and banks need to be able to assess that risk with data,” he said.

In terms of the marketing side, the industry is still a “baby”, and certain parts of the sector also need to improve their image with decent marketing, panelists said.

However, “there is a catch 22 when it comes to marketing in the aquaculture industry,” said Lara Barazi-Yeroulanos, CEO of Kefalonia Fisheries.

“As when there is a shortage of supply, there is no need for marketing as the product will sell itself, but when there is an over supply companies cannot afford to spend money on marketing,” she said.

-- Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 7.56 p.m. CET

Know your enemy...

The early mortality syndrome (EMS) disease is still stirring up the global shrimp industry, despite several breakthroughs earlier this year.

While it is known the pathogen is an orally-transmitted bacteria, many questions remain.

"It is not an easy disease, it is truly a primary infection -- a killer," Robins McIntosh, senior vice president of Charoen Pokphand Foods (CP Foods) said during a short presentation at GOAL 2013.

"And it’s different." It grows "extremely fast," is a colonizer and produces a potent toxin.

The only way forward is to understand the "enemy," to further study it, to find out why it's growing and how exactly it infects shrimp.

In a break-out session later in the afternoon it became clear there is more confusion than revelation. One of the big questions was how the disease spread to Mexico.

MacIntosh has his own explanation, and suggested the broodstock as one possibility. He believes it arrived indirectly through the Texas border into Mexico.

Donald Lightner picked up on the theory, saying EMS was first detected in April in Nyorit and then moved north to Sinaloa and Sonora -- which matches the stocking pattern in Mexico.

Stocking density is another factor arising in combination with the disease. In contrast to common theories, MacIntosh believes ponds with higher stocking densities are less likely to be affected by the bacteria as the shrimp are eating pellets rather than pond residues.

The bacteria grows from the environment, the salinity, temperature and PH, he also said.

Polyculture could become interested in regards to battling the disease, Lightner and MacIntosh agreed, especially with tilapia.

"Tilapia seems to be changing the bacterial environment," Lightner told the audience.

And MacIntosh added "whenever we put tilapia into shrimp ponds there seems to be a positive response. There's something magical about tilapia and its green water."

However, it is still too early to tell what is going to work, he said. "But I have my ideas."

He believes the worst is over. "The bottom is in. It will take time but there will be a recovery."

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 07. 6.00 p.m. CET

Product diversification should win over species diversification

Diversification is important in the seafood industry but not in terms of new species, rather new products, according to James Anderson, head of the global program on fisheries and aquaculture at the World Bank.

The global seafood industry is dominated by a small number of fish species, but the question is not about whether there will be a rise in new species to market, but how products of the existing species can be diversified.

“It is more likely that there will be fewer species, until the industry solves disease problems better, but there will be more diverse products: breaded this, flavoured that, etc,” he told delegates at a break out session at the GOAL conference in Paris Tuesday.

“People should look to hedge their risk by diversifying products and sources and not look for new species,” he said.

Willem van der Pijl, seafood market and supply chain specialist at Wageningen University and Research Centre, however believed species diversification was important although the challenge at the moment is profitability.

Not many species have proven to be economically viable, so at the moment “the market potential is for product development,” he said.

However, the emergence of any new major species is also dependent on location, Lara Barazi-Yeroulanos, CEO of Kefalonia Fisheries added.

“It depends on where and what you produce. For example the Mediterranean fell into bass and bream,” she said.

-- Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 1.44 p.m. CET

China new key importer for shrimp

The early mortality syndrome (EMS) crisis triggered a trade flow shift from west to east, Gorjan Nikolik, seafood analyst at Rabobank, told the audience at GOAL 2013, while presenting the key findings of a recent study on the global shrimp market.

"China is emerging as the key new net importer," he said, with even Ecuadorian producers starting to move their products into China. The United States and European Union (EU), on the other hand, are showing contracting demand, where shrimp consumption is "stagnant or falling" since 2005.

This demand contraction in the west will accelerate, Nikolik said. "Retailers and foodservice are experiencing a margin contraction on shrimp products."

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 01. 20 p.m. CET

Donald Lightner awarded lifetime achievement award

Donald Lightner, the renowned shrimp pathologist from the University of Arizona has been presented with a lifetime achievement award by the Global Aquaculture Alliance at the GOAL conference in Paris.

Lightner most recently discovered the cause of early mortality syndrome (EMS) which is devastating shrimp stocks around the globe.

Presenting the award, George Chamberlain, president of the GAA, said he deserved the accolade for "far reaching achievements in science, commercial production, and education that advanced the knowledge and management of shrimp health and improved the productivity, efficiency, and sustainability of shrimp farming."

-- Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 01. 07 p.m. CET

Lightner unveils PCR kit to help combat EMS

Donald Lightner’s team at the University of Arizona has come up with a new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique that can detect which broodstock and post larvae (PL) are carrying early mortality syndrome (EMS).

“We intend to make a PCR kit that will be commercially available,” Lightner told delegates at GOAL in Paris.

“It is our intent that when the PCR positive broodstock or PL’s carrying the pathogen are detected they can then be destroyed or placed on a regime of “approved” antibiotics in an attempt to clear them of EMS,” he said.

Lightner’s team plans to license out the PCR technique to a company that in turn can distribute diagnostic kits to EMS affected regions such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand.

-- Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 12. 35 p.m. CET

Myanmar: shrimp's "last frontier"

The potential for Myanmar's shrimp farming sector is "incredible," Willem van der Pijl, seafood market and supply chain specialist for LEI Wageningen UR, told the audience at GOAL 2013, urging for investments in the country's shrimp sector.

"The needed investments are very basic, from hatcheries, grow out, to feed facilities," he said.

After years of hurdles, which included an export tax of 10 percent, no GSP status in the EU and the United States, and high production costs due to lack of electricity, things are finally moving into the right direction, he said.

The government is also looking to reform the country's investment regulations, it is aiming for EU re-approval for aquaculture products and the export tax will be reduced to 2 percent.

"Things are starting to move," van der Pijl said.

Nevertheless the lack of information is still one of the biggest hurdles. FAO states the country's current shrimp production stands at 50,000 metric tons -- up from 23,000 metric tons in 2005 -- however, van der Pijl believes the figures are "overestimated."

Two cyclones ravaging the country in 2008 and 2010 resulted in a "production crash (...) and production hasn't revived since," he said.

"Monodon production is back to pre-2000 levels, and vannamei production limited to domestic market -- they can’t compete as they don’t have the facilities."

Myanmar is the "last frontier" for shrimp production and investments, he said.

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 12.16 p.m. CET

Fund plans to invest $300,000/year in seafood research

The Seafood Industry Research Fund (SIRF) plans to invest $300,000 (€221,861) yearly in research projects that will find “practical solutions to fisheries challenges.”

The fund, formerly known as the Fisheries Scholarship Fund, wants to help provide finance to industry projects which will help it to address things such as new government regulations, to identify aquaculture best practices to minimize diseases, to address potential barriers to trade, and to meet consumer expectations and needs.

The $3.3 million (€2.4 million) self-perpetual fund is supported by voluntary contributions from individuals, companies and foundations, and on average $100,000 (€73,954) is raised each year.

-- Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 12.11 p.m. CET

How to manage disease?

Diseases are clearly the number one issue for fish farmers today, George Chamberlain, president of GAA, said, picking up on what's been said by previous speakers and panelists.

"Truth is we just don’t have good techniques to manage disease," he said. "Policy is usually lagging behind the curve. The business side is running ahead."

Some measures to be implemented to get ahead of disease outbreaks are zone management to regulate the density of farms and avoid sharing water inputs and outfalls, animal movement control, the adaption of best practices, and communication between all stakeholders, Chamberlain said.

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 11.57 a.m. CET

Turkey's ambitious aquaculture goals

Turkish aquaculture production has grown significantly in the past few years to 212,000 metric tons last year (from 167,000 metric tons in 2010 and 129,000 metric tons in 2006) -- but producers want to go bigger, Hayri Deniz, director of oversees investments and international relations at Kilic Seafood, told the audience at GOAL 2013.

By 2023, the country's aquaculture sector is aiming to more than double its output, to 500,000 metric tons. In addition, it aims to reach $1 billion (€739.5 million) in export sales as well as to double domestic per capita consumption from annually 8 kilograms to 16 kilograms.

Setting the scene for reaching the targets are improved regulations and the integration of aquaculture in coastal zone management plans under the National Marine Aquaculture Development Plan (NMADP).

The main species farmed are trout, seabass and seabream, and in terms of aquaculture Turkey is the third largest growing country in the world, Deniz suggested.

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 11.40 a.m. CET

Long-term planning key to combating Mediterranean bass, bream volatility

The Mediterranean aquaculture industry produces around 275,000 metric tons per year, which is dominated by sea bream and sea bass, often sold together and accounting for 91 percent of the total production, according to Lara Barazi-Yeroulanos, CEO of Kefalonia Fisheries.

Of these figures, sea bream production accounts for around 55-56 percent while bass makes up the rest. However, sea bass is “less volatile” in terms of production volumes.

“The industry has seen pretty robust growth over the past 20 years, but it has not been smooth. It is has been boom and bust cycles,” said Barazi-Yeroulanos at the GOAL conference in Paris.

For example, production in Greece, which makes up half of the Mediterranean sea bass/bream production in the Mediterranean region, volumes increased 43 percent between 2004-2008, this however plummeted 40 percent between 2008-2011.

This volatility however has resulted in “important consolidation, not always harmoniously,” Barazi-Yeroulanos said.

Nonetheless, “medium to long term planning is crucial to smooth out volatility in the industry,” she added.

Meanwhile, in the Mediterranean Aquaculture Vision 2030, the region hopes to produce around 600,000 metric tons per year by 2030.

However the main challenge is what Lara Barazi-Yeroulanos calls a “race for space” where there is much competition for space in countries such as Greece.

There are also policy and legislative issues in this race for space, such as lack of appropriate designated sites, maritime special planning and getting the industry recognized as an “equal rights user”.

“Aquaculture must be an equal competitor for access to space,” Lara Barazi-Yeroulanos said.

Furthermore, regulations are often complicated, expensive to apply and unevenly applied, she said. “We must simplify the administrative burden of licensing and promote investment by providing a stable, coherent and long term legal status for the industry.”

-- Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 11.00 a.m. CET

Aquaculture growth slowing down

It will take at least 10-15 years for aquaculture production to double, if not longer, delegates at the GOAL conference believe.

At a vote given to the audience, 47.3 percent believed it would take between 10 and 15 years, while 43.6 percent believed it would take longer than 15 years.

-- Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 10.57 a.m. CET

Bjorn Myrseth awarded lifetime achievement award

After 43 years in the industry, Bjorn Myrseth, co-founder and former CEO of Stolt Sea Farms and founder and former CEO of Marine Farms, picked up his GAA lifetime achievement award at GOAL 2013.

On receiving his award, Myrseth gave delegates a brief outline of what he has learnt during his time in the industry, from pioneering smolt production in the 1970s/1980s with Stolt Sea Farms, to setting standards in the smolt production industry, to being one of the first companies to set up salmon farms in the US and Canada.

At Marine Farms, Myrseth pioneered a number of new developments in the sea bass and sea bream industries, and invested in aquaculture operations in Norway, Scotland, Greece, Spain and Chile.

One important thing he has seen is the challenges of disease and learnt how the cost of disease prevention is “worth it.”

Contrary to what is believed, regulation could actually cut producers costs and earn them more money in the long run, said Myrseth in reference to what happened in the Faroe Islands when infectious salmon anemia (ISA) hit the industry.

A new ISA containment regime was put in place which reduced production costs from $3 (€2.20) to $4 (€3) per kilo to $2.50 (€1.90) per kilo, he said.

“Instead of costing more they made more money by introducing these measures,” Myrseth said.

“Surprised” that he had won the award, Myrseth said he would continue to work with fish.

Although there “is still a lot to learn” Myrseth said that “without committed and loyal employees you will not succeed.”

-- Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 10.25 a.m. CET

Global shrimp production 23% off expectations

The worldwide shrimp production dropped 15 percent since 2011, from about 4 million metric tons, according to the GOAL 2013 survey on shrimp production, presented by James Anderson, head of the global program on fisheries and aquaculture for the World Bank.

This is 23 percent off the trajectory for 2013 based on the past decade, he said. Up until two years ago, global output was growing at a 5 percent rate each year, but it dropped 6.7 percent between 2011 and 2012 and 9.6 percent between 2012 and 2013, to about 3.5 million metric tons.

The main reason? Disease, of course.

The biggest slump in production was reported from Asia, while the Americans an India are taking up a big share from the slump in southeast Asia.

In Latin America, the "biggest disappointment is Mexico," Anderson said. "Production is expected to be down 50 percent, all other countries are expected to see a healthy increase."

The key challenge, according to the survey, is disease, closely followed by production costs, especially for feed and access to disease-free broodstock. In Asia, environmental management challenges have moved up in importance, while in Latin America farmers are more concerned about international market prices and access to credit.

Overall, the sector is looking to a more positive economical development for the next year, but disease "absolutely [remains] the biggest risk in the industry," Anderson said.

It undermines market development, and there is a clear under-investment in disease management, he said.

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 10.08 a.m. CET

Marine Harvest's New York listing due early next year

Norwegian salmon giant Marine Harvest will list at the New York stock exchange in early 2014, Ole-Eirik Leroy, chairman at the company, said in his presentation at GOAL 2013.

It's a great way to attract new capital into the business, he told the audience.

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 9.43 a.m. CET

'Blue is the new green'

"We just started the journey of cultivating the ocean, we would like to lead the development," Ole-Eirik Leroy, chairman of Marine Harvest, said in his keynote address at the GOAL 2013 conference in Paris, outlining the salmon giant's future strategy, dubbed as the 'Blue Revolution.'

Feed, farming and processing -- all will play a key role, and Morpol's integration last week was a big step towards the company's future, he said.

The company's feed project in Norway is well underway and will form a "key element. It's an extremely important competitive factor."

But challenges remain for both Marine Harvest and the whole salmon and aquaculture sectors, Leroy said. They are at a financial level -- "we need to earn money" --, as well as at a social and ecological level.

"We are a very young industry, we have a lot to learn and we have to do it together," Leroy said. Issues remain in all the global salmon farming regions; in Norway it's escapes and sea lice, in Chile sea lice and biology, while in Scotland the sector still needs to be developed.

"To overcome some of the challenges "smart regulation is needed," Leroy said. "To bring regulation forward is crucial in all the areas we produce in order to continue to develop the industry."

In addition, transparency must increase. "Anyone trying to cheat they could get away with it five years ago but no way they can do that now," Leroy said.

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 9.16 a.m. CET

Aquaculture’s sixth challenge

Welcoming delegates to Paris on day one of the GOAL conference, Wally Stevens, executive director of the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), told the audience the aquaculture industry needs to spend time to think about who will be the future leaders of the sector.

Mentors are needed to guide the next generation and shape their careers, he said.

In the past, the industry has focused on five major challenges: health and disease, feeds, environmental and social accountability, investment, and market support. However “a sixth challenge” is emerging, he warned.

As part of this leadership challenge, the GAA has launched the Responsible Aquaculture Foundation, through which it is looking to build on the potential of the industry in places such as Africa, India, and Vietnam.

In particular Africa is a focus where there is potential for the development of the industry throughout the country, and it is today’s leaders that have to contribute to the education, training and support in these areas, said Stevens.

Aquaculture production has doubled in the last decade primarily due to Africa, said Stevens, mostly due to its freshwater fish farming in sub Saharan Africa and the significant tilapia production in Egypt and this has to be nurtured he said.

-- Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 8.10 a.m. CET

Bienvenue à Paris!

From last year's buzzing Bangkok, the Global Aquaculture Alliance's (GAA's) annual GOAL conference was moved to Paris this year, and is expected to attract yet again a number of distinctive aquaculture scientists, industry members and financiers.

Over the next three days, about 50 speakers will cover everything from early mortality syndrome in shrimp, feed sustainability, aquaculture growth opportunities in the Middle East and Africa, meeting the needs of Europe’s discerning buyers and the latest farmed seafood production data and forecasts -- all evolving around this year's theme “Join the Journey."

Ole-Eirik Leroy, chairman of Marine Harvest, Carl-Christian Schmidt of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and Norwegian aquaculture pioneer Bjorn Myrseth will headline an impressive cross-section of aquaculture and seafood professionals at the 2013 edition of GOAL.

-- Elisabeth Fischer

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