Sustaining the Advancement of Sustainability

Secret Island’s commitment to advancing aquaculture to meet the needs of both people and the planet inspired this five-post series. Part 1 highlighted our industry’s vital role in meeting the more than 50 percent increase in food required to feed a global population projected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. But an earlier date is even more critical to consider when taking action to secure human health and welfare.

As noted in the Washington Post, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that it is unlikely that the world will hold to the 1.5 degree Celsius limit above preindustrial temperatures referenced in the Paris Agreement. (That international treaty was adopted by 196 countries in 2015 to address climate change.) The IPCC warns that “beyond that (1.5 degree Celsius) threshold…climate disasters will become so extreme that people will not be able to adapt (to the) heat waves, famines, and infectious diseases (that) could claim millions of additional lives by century’s end.”

But while the ICCP’s Synthesis Report of its findings “underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action,” it also notes that “if we act now, we can still secure a liveable, sustainable future for all.”

Time Magazine reports that in the fight to address global warming, “government officials have increasingly focused their attention on the private sector—treating companies not just as entities to regulate but also as core partners.”  However, empowering businesses to feed and protect our planet will rely on both adopting their individual ideas and rallying their collaborative spirit. Creative technological solutions might come from any single organization looking to maximize the most efficient use of precious natural resources. But we’ll need common corporate adoption of strict science-based guidelines to minimize the environmental impacts that can degrade those resources and the planet they’re harvested from.

Following is a look at how some emerging companies in our industry are leading the former drive for innovation and how Secret Island and its parent company, Salmones Austral, are advancing the latter push for shared environmental standards.

Innovative Tech Solutions for Sustainable Aquaculture

Across the globe, a new generation of startups is using the best of tech to make the most of aquaculture. As reported on the Fish Site, Norway’s “Probiotic” has built an underwater drone that automates the task of inspecting and cleaning fish pens. The company’s “Probot” takes a cleaner, more cost-efficient path to this critical chore. The small submersible drone crawls across a fish pen’s exterior surface, constantly removing the coating of marine bacteria that accumulates and submitting live video and sensor data to monitor net conditions while it cleans. This proactive approach to pen maintenance saves time and money while safeguarding against the buildup of pollutants that can contaminate fish and the ocean environment.

The artificial intelligence (AI) experts at Nividia note how data can help machines learn what they need to optimize aquaculture operations. “GoSmart” (an Israel-based company) helps aqua farmers better manage fish feeding through the power of AI. This solar-powered, soda-bottle-sized device is attached to an aquaculture pen. There, it uses onboard cameras and sensors to analyze factors that impact fish feeding, growth, health and welfare, and the potential environmental pollution caused by inefficient operations. GoSmart is set to go even further by enabling its multiple AI algorithms to run in parallel to analyze such factors as fish weight, population distribution, and temperature and oxygen levels. That powerful processing boost promises to analyze fish behavior and disease indicators in real-time for more comprehensive stock management.

Finally, the Global Seafood Alliance spotlights how the Scotland-based startup, “Aquanzo” is tweaking existing technology to extend aquaculture’s system-wide sustainability. The company created a customized version of the kind of recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) profiled in part 3 of this series. However, Aquanzo specifically engineered its RAS to nurture a microscopic brine shrimp called “artemia.” Raising artemia in a land-based facility closes a longstanding gap in aquaculture’s self-sustaining cycle; it eliminates the need to tap the ocean’s precious reserves of the fish and krill used to feed the fish raised in aquaculture facilities. Creating a sustainable source of this feed is also an environmental boon for the land-based farms that rely on fishmeal to nourish their animals.

One of Secret Island’s principal feed suppliers, BioMar, is also committed to investing in cutting-edge ideas to improve aquafeed sustainability. Aquanzo’s technological advances are one path to that more promising future, the other is the implementation of the industry-wide standards that can align more businesses with it. BioMar is the only aquafeed manufacturer that’s signed on to the global initiative noted below that can take us there.

Setting Scientific-Based Sustainability Standards

More and more companies are answering the government’s call to partner in the solutions needed to address a warming world. However, it can be challenging to measure the practices that quantify how corporate promises to cut greenhouse emissions are kept. The Time article above notes a leading voluntary program for businesses that sets emissions reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement.

That program is the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a collaboration between the Carbon Disclosure Project, the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund. SBTi provides science-based targets to companies that commit to doing their part to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement’s objectives. Major corporations such as Apple, IKEA, Unilever (and many more) have subscribed to SBTi to go on record with their pledge to meet specific timelines for carbon-cutting goals.

As one of Chile’s leading business news sources, Diaro Estrategia, announced last May, Salmones Austral (SA) was the first business within the salmon aquaculture sector to subscribe to SBTi. SA signed a renewable credit line called a “Sustainability Linked Loan” to meet SBTi’s ambitious sustainability objectives. Those goals include the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gasses, a sustained increase in the volume of fish certified by the Aquaculture Administration Council, a reduction in the use of antibiotics, and a decrease in the accident rate that occurs during operations.

Secret Island is proud to take a leadership position within the aquaculture industry to advance the sustainability of both our products and the planet. However, we sincerely hope our unique status in doing so won’t last. Realizing aquaculture’s full promise of nourishing both people and the earth that sustains us will require the commitment and collaboration of companies working within every sector of our industry. And the more businesses, organizations, and people that join in that conscious shift toward a more sustainable world, the brighter the future for all of us will be. 

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