Regional sea fish – from the tank to the table
In view of the major challenges of environmental degradation and climate change, a roadmap with the aim of a modern and a resource-efficient future is required for the coming decades. The appropriate concept for Europe is supposed to be the Green Deal, the purpose of which we have already explained in the previous blog post The „Green Deal“ as a new growth strategy for Europe. With the SEAWATER Cube we are addressing two goals of the action plan: The from “Farm to fork” strategy and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. In the following, we provide a detailed overview of which goals the from “Farm to fork” strategy includes and how our concept helps to achieve these goals.
The from „farm to fork“ strategy
On top of the agenda of this strategy is the securing of a more sustainable food chain in the EU. According to the EU, this strategy „sets out the regulatory and other measures needed to create more efficient, climate-smart systems that deliver healthy food while enabling an appropriate income for EU farmers and fishermen.“ (EU Commission)
The following generally defined sub-goals and measures can be found:
- Ensuring a sustainable and affordable food supply
- Combating climate change
- Strengthening environmental protection
- Conservation of biodiversity
- Increase in the proportion of organic farming
- Fair incomes in the food chain
The contribution of SEAWATER Cubes to the from “Farm to fork” strategy can be measured on the basis of a large number of specifically designed points:
Improved animal welfare: The maximum stocking density in the SEAWATER Cube is 65 kg / m³, around 35% below the limit of 100 kg / m³ from which negative effects on animal welfare were reported for the first time in the literature. Thanks to the technologically advanced filters, the spread of harmful bacteria and pathogens is also avoided. The animals grow up in clear water and without stress. In this way they do not get sick and the use of medicine and antibiotics can be completely avoided as well.
Optimizing food quality: The production of fish in a recirculating system is characterized by a high level of control. External harmful influences on the animals from microplastics, heavy oil or heavy metals are non-existent due to the closed nature of the system. The stress-free living conditions and the needs-based feeding of the animals ensure stable health and a high-quality product (protein content in slaughter fish = 19.4%). Due to the clear water, the animals also have no moldy aftertaste and do not need to be put in a stripping process before fishing. The laboratory association LADR is responsible for the food analysis of our fish and confirms its purity in regular analyzes.
Maximize freshness, reduce food waste: Maximize freshness, reduce food waste: SEAWATER Fish is grown locally and is therefore available in close proximity to the consumer. It is fished as required or only on request. This avoids rejects and unnecessary food waste. In addition, the freshness is extended. The shelf life of the fish from the SEAWATER Cube is two to three times longer than conventional goods – if stored correctly up to 10 days.
Better storage and environmentally friendly packaging: Our offer includes a suitable processing container for the SEAWATER Cube, which is equipped with a cold store in addition to equipment. This ensures uninterrupted and professional storage between fishing and marketing. SEAWATER Fish is stored in reusable boxes made of food-safe plastic in the cold store and is delivered in the same (instead of styrofoam boxes). At 0 ° C, the animals lie on ice and are ideally cooled (but not frozen). The surface is always kept moist by the melt water that runs off. In marketing, we also work with environmentally friendly materials and reduce the amount of plastic packaging by around 70%. The whole fish are wrapped in beeswax paper and handed over to the customer. The paper is biodegradable and can be disposed of on the composter or in organic waste.
Minimize transport: In Central Europe, there is a high demand for marine fish, also domestically. This is often met by imports over long distances with a high CO2 footprint. The production of marine fish in the SEAWATER Cube, which is independent of location and close to the consumer, can greatly reduce such emissions. An example illustrates this: Compared to importing fish from Norway to Paris (plane, 1700 km, 13.5 kg CO2/kg fish), buying fish from a local SEAWATER Cube (car, 20 km, 0.29 kg CO2/kg fish) can avoid a full 97.9% of the emissions that would otherwise occur. (Calculation sources: atmosfair | arktik)
Create consumer awareness for production processes: At SEAWATER we live transparency and openness. Every interested party or customer is given the opportunity to visit the facility and convince themselves about the optimal conditions under which the fish are kept. In addition, a comprehensive range of information on topics related to aquaculture is intended to help educate consumers about the origin of fish as a foodstuff and to encourage consumers to rethink their consumption of fish in a more conscious and sustainable manner.
Offer alternative business models for fish and farmers: The SEAWATER Cube was born from the demand of farmers for new fields of activity in aquaculture. For them, thanks to its compact dimensions and regional production volume, the Cube is an interesting way to expand their existing operations and broaden their product range. Fishermen, who suffer from decreasing yields due to climate change and overfishing, are given the opportunity by our plant to build up an alternative business with an attractive income for 1.25 persons at a manageable investment of 250,000 €.
Enable new plant-based products: The modular and standardized design of the SEAWATER systems as well as their efficient water treatment enable the coupling of fish farming with algae or plant production. By feeding the nutrient-rich wastewater from fish farming into algae reactors or aquaponic systems, the water and nutrient use efficiency of the SEAWATER Cube can be further increased. In addition, other locally produced and healthy products (e.g. Salicornia, also called Queller or sea asparagus) can be added to the range of products on the operator’s side. One SEAWATER Cube can supply up to 77 t of plant biomass with nitrate and phosphorus annually.
According to the EU, „Farmers, fishermen and aquaculture producers […] play a decisive role in the implementation of the Green Deal.“ Apparently, 30% of the funds from the Maritime and Fisheries Fund are to be used for climate goals. That would be good, but there is still some bureaucratic course to be set for this, because the current implementation of the directive is at the level of the federal states and is therefore very different. In some cases, saltwater plants are even generally excluded from funding.
The previously listed points show that we can make a major contribution to achieving the goals of the from “Farm to fork“ strategy with the SEAWATER Cube. However, in order to fulfill them on schedule, a proactive and application-oriented approach is important. Startups must be given the chance to bring their innovations to the market together with customers through funded pilot projects. Bureaucracy must be reduced and risks have to be taken. We hope that the EU will set a friendly course for future plant operators and aquaculture investors. A final directive on the EMFF is currently not yet available online (as of 15.03.2021). However, first information about the planned fund is already published here.
Interested in fully-automated fish farming with the SEAWATER Cube?
- Waller et. al – Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture in a zero-exchange recirculation aquaculture system for marine fish and hydroponic halophyte production, Aquaculture International 23, (2015)
- EU-Kommission, Nachhaltige Lebensmittel – Strategie „Vom Hof auf den Tisch“
- https://www.oekolandbau.de/verarbeitung/unternehmen/vom-hof-auf-den-tisch-eine-strategie-fuer-die-zukunft/, abgerufen am 11.03.21
Picture source: SEAWATER Cubes