Three University of New England marine scientists presented their aquaculture research to an international audience at Elsevier’s 3rd International Aquaculture Research Conference in Qingdao, China.
Elsevier publishes Aquaculture, the leading scientific journal in its field. Executive Director of UNE NORTH and Henry L. & Grace Doherty Professor of Marine Sciences Barry Costa-Pierce, Ph.D., has been the journal’s editor for the past 20 years. He has also served as the co-chair of all of the three conferences in France and Spain and now China, and this conference marked his final event with Elsevier, as he will step down as editor-in-chief this year.
Costa-Pierce delivered the first keynote address for the conference, titled, “Transdisciplinary, ecosystems ecology of aquaculture systems: Ocean food systems approaches for developing eel and kelp aquaculture.” Through his presentation, he challenged the audience to think about our food systems in new ways.
“In almost all planning and policy discussions on the future of food production, there is little or no recognition that the Earth is 70 percent ocean, that 97 percent of all waters are saltwater ,” said Costa-Pierce. “With a infinitesimally small footprint compared to agriculture, aquaculture could provide for most of our future animal foods and a vast amount of humanity’s plant foods. These ‘ocean foods’ are far more efficiently produced and less consumptive of natural resources in comparison with terrestrial foods. Overall, it is a more rational investment for the future of food, with the enormous benefit of the preservation of the world’s remaining, undeveloped and invaluable terrestrial ecosystems — And this can be done without any further pressure from aquaculture’s expansion on marine fisheries.”
Assistant Professor in the UNE School of Marine Programs Carrie Byron, Ph.D., delivered a five-minute lightning talk and poster presentation titled, “Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture: Quantifying carrying capacity on aquaculture farms integrated in coastal food webs.” Byron encouraged delegates to think about how the ecosystem supports farmed food in the coastal ocean. She shared a method for quantifying carrying capacity for aquaculture and suggested ecological mechanisms that support high carrying capacities for bivalve shellfish aquaculture in New England estuaries.
Gretchen Grebe, EPSCoR SEANET University of Maine Ph.D. candidate based at UNE, delivered a five minute lightning talk and poster titled, “Quantifying nitrogen assimilation by kelp farms in high-flux conditions.” Grebe shared her dissertation research on the ability of farmed kelp to assimilate or “absorb” nitrogen from the water. She is exploring whether farmed kelp can be used as a bioremediation tool in coastal areas.
“This conference gave us the opportunity to connect with, learn from, and educate top scientists in a range of aquaculture research fields from all over the world,” said Byron. “It was especially impactful to tour sea farm sites in China and see first-hand the commitment and investment China is making in aquaculture.”