Research area

Capture-based aquaculture

Capture-based aquaculture involves catching wild animals and then keeping them alive or feeding them until they are slaughtered. In this way, every kilo we harvest is worth more.

The aim of capture-based aquaculture is to increase the biomass, enhance the raw material quality and the opportunity to perform strategically in relation to the market by being able to determine when the fish are slaughtered and sold.

For instance, the cod fishery is characterized by a short and hectic season. If wild cod is caught and kept alive in the cage, it is possible to ensure a supply of fresh cod to the markets year-round and not only during the short fishing season.

In contrast to classical aquacultural activities, you do not have control over the entire life cycle of the animals.

National Centre

In 2010 the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs established a National Centre for Capture-based Aquaculture at Nofima in Tromsø.

The centre primarily works with capture-based aquaculture of cod and has developed close cooperation with industrial actors, both in the fishing fleet and land-based industry, and in particular companies involved in the feeding out of cod. The activities shall have a value chain perspective and develop products and methods that increase the value of the resource.

Many species

Increasing value through feeding out and improving the quality characterizes the activity we call capture-based aquaculture. But capture-based aquaculture also includes an extremely short period of live storage on a fishing boat (e.g. five hours) in order to improve the quality.

By catching wild cod, plaice, king crab or crayfish and keeping it alive then selling it when the quality or market is optimal, the value can in many cases multiply. Live seafood is not processed, but is an extremely refined product.

In 2006, statistics from the fishing fleets showed that in some instances the coastal fishermen increased the value of their cod quotas by 35-40 percent by delivering their catch live.

Nofima’s Centre for Capture-based Aquaculture carries out basic and applied research within the areas of catch, transport and storage of fish and crustaceans. Storage and feeding out of cod caught in the spring and harvested in the autumn forms the foundation of the centre, but a host of other species are included in the activity.

Nofima has entered into project collaboration with Vesterålen Fiskeripark with the aim of creating a meeting place where scientists and fishermen can meet to develop concepts for capture-based aquaculture.

The Norwegian Institute of Marine Research is a central collaboration partner for the centre and has participated in a vast number of research projects.

Technology and welfare

Capture-based aquaculture makes special demands concerning the welfare of the animals. Consequently, techniques and methods that are developed must be documented in relation to how gentle they are.

It is a central goal to develop descriptions and guidelines which may form the basis for “best practice”. The technologies may be developed separately in the various fisheries, but there is also a considerable amount to be gained by cross-sector activities: new slaughter methods developed in the salmon industry will be of major significance for the processing of large hauls of fish.

Experiments within physiology and tolerance in connection with catch, transport and storage are therefore of central importance.

Experiments at home and away

The majority of the research takes place onboard vessels, but there is also a need to study in detail how the method of catch and transport influences the animals. Such experimental studies take place at Nofima’s laboratories, in tanks and cages.

A separate depot has been developed for live crustaceans at Nofima in Tromsø. New transportation methods are developed here for species including king crab and Norway lobster and seafood producers can document the quality of their own production.

The term capture-based aquaculture was introduced in 2004, and is now used by R & D institutions, the industry, organisations and management authorities.

The industrial activity is controlled by specific regulations, which are harmonized with the regulations pertaining to aquaculture. On a global basis, capture-based aquaculture accounts for 20 percent of the total volume of farmed fish.

Fish in a sea cage. Photo: Kjell Ø. Midling
Copyright: Nofima

Fish in a sea cage.

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