The organization of Aquaculture Europe 2023, an event of the European Aquaculture Society, has announced the names of the speakers responsible for the three plenary sessions that have been set for this meeting that will take place in Vienna, Austria, between September 18 and 21. These sessions will focus on the balance between diversity and the responsible use of resources to produce healthy food, selective breeding and resilience, and investment in sustainable aquaculture.
The first plenary session will be “Balanced diversity and the responsible use of global resources to produce healthy food”, by József Popp, from the Hungarian Szent István University, and will be will focus on the fact that the world food system is facing a decrease in the diversity of crops and animal breeds. In contrast to agriculture, aquaculture is expanding in terms of new areas and species as well as diversifying aquatic resources, species, products, systems and technologies.
Popp is professor and dean at Szent István University. His main research field includes global food, energy and environmental security analysis, competitiveness of the food economy, rural development, supply chain management and renewable energy.
Among others, he has received several national and international awards and honors, including: Lifetime Achievement Award, Delhi School of Professional Studies and Research; Doctorem Honoris Causa Pannon University, Hungary, 2010; and Honoris Causa Professorship, Delhi School of Professional Studies and Research, 2010. As well, he has the award of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Recognition of Research Contributions, 2011 and is member of several national councils related to science and education.
The impact of breeding programs
The second plenary session will be ‘Breeding for Resilience – Are we ready?’, by Antti Kause, Principal Scientist at the Natural Resources Institute (LUKE) in Finland, and Morten Rye, Director, External Services and Global Strategies at Benchmark Norway LUKE and Morten Rye, Benchmark.
The experts will take into account questions about the impact of breeding program for the main culture European species over recent years: Are the current strains resilient enough? Do we have the necessary tools to support selection goals? What are the risks and opportunities in selecting new strains?
Kause leads the genetics and genomics of the fish breeding programs activities at Luke, and his group has over 20 years of expertise in research and implementing the results in practical fish breeding programs for the benefit of fish farmers, processors and consumers.
He has a total of 79 peer-reviewed publications, 31 h-index, and over 60 popularized articles in fish and aquaculture magazines.
He is the coordinator of the AquaIMPACT EU-project that develops genomic and nutritional applications for the aquaculture industry of the 4 main farmed fish species in the European Union (EU).
Rye, for his part, has 35 years of experience in genetic research and large-scale selective breeding programs for 20 aquaculture species worldwide, including the majority of those farmed in Europe.
He earned his PhD in Animal Breeding from the Agricultural University of Norway in 1992 and has (co)authored more than 80 scientific papers and book chapters on genetics and selection. He is currently heading Benchmark Genetics’ External Services division.
The Aqua-Spark experience
The third Plenary session will be ‘Moving aquaculture to more sustainable, healthier and affordable production, an investor viewpoint’, Lissy Smit, CEO of Aqua-Spark, that in 2015 became the first investment fund dedicated to sustainable aquaculture.
The company was founded on the believe that sustainable aquaculture is one of the long-term solutions to restore ocean health, that we do not need to rely on wild resources or extensive antibiotics and chemicals usage to keep fish alive.
Smit has over two decades of banking experience mainly in food and agribusiness finance at Rabobank. She set-up the leveraged finance team in Asia and significantly grew the business in North America by working closely with investors to finance companies in the food and agricultural sector.
After eight years working in Hong Kong, New York and London, the Aqua-Spark’s CEO returned to the Netherlands to lead Rabobank’s global lending business. While sitting on Rabobank’s Investment Committee Lissy first learned about Aqua-Spark and realized the real challenges and opportunities in aquaculture and the role capital can play to develop the perfect food system for the future.
Aqua-Spark is an impact fund investing in innovative, novel solutions to some of aquaculture’s biggest challenges. The company focuses on investing in solutions across the whole supply chain creating sustainable production by using novel feed ingredients which can replace fishmeal, promoting fish health, finding alternatives for antibiotics, supporting companies and technologies that can improve farm practices, from feeders reducing feed waste to systems collecting data to optimize production, companies creating marketplaces and platforms increasing transparency in the supply chain.