Expanding aquaculture operations through new synergies with seaweed cultivation, tourism, and decommissioned oil & gas in the Norwegian Sea


Aquaculture operations and oil & gas extraction have a long-standing presence in the Norwegian Sea, and the nature of these industries is expected to change in the coming years. In export value, Norway is the second largest exporter of seafood worldwide and the largest producer of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), generating a value of EUR 6.2 bill and employing almost 8 000 people. The Norwegian industry is expected to grow 5-fold by 2050. Nevertheless, the salmon aquaculture still has a negative environmental image. An increase in production in Norway is today limited mainly by disease control, shortage of major feed ingredients, and the environmental impact of tail water and particulate waste discharged from aquaculture operations, especially close to shore. The authorities are limiting the growth of the industry by limiting the standing biomass on site and the number of sites to give the time for the industry to find solution to the above-mentioned challenges. Therefore, to support the above- mentioned growth with in consideration of spatial limitations in the coastal areas, further aquaculture activity may need to be moved further offshore or combined with other types of aquaculture (seaweed) or other coastal activities (tourism) to address environmental impacts and local perceptions. Innovative solutions, including integrated multitrophic aquaculture (IMTA) where the fish aquaculture is combined with low-level trophic organism aquaculture, are already under consideration in Norway to address this issue.

Conversely, as oil & gas installations age, it is anticipated that 10% of the remaining platforms will be decommissioned by 2024. Some of these offshore installations could potentially serve for other sectors aiming to move further offshore, including aquaculture. Nevertheless, uncertain environmental impacts and regulatory challenges would need to be addressed.

In order to address these challenges, new synergies are being considered to meet the sector’s anticipated needs. However, knowledge gaps exist regarding economic feasibility and environmental impacts of potential use combinations. The planning and policy processes administered by the county councils, the directorate of fisheries, Norwegian food safety authority, and municipalities may benefit from further investigation and MULTI-FRAME scenarios.

Major challenges that may be addressed in this project include:

What are the appropriate operational solutions for combining different types of aquaculture?

How can economic feasibility of aquaculture expansion be realized in the context of oil & gas infrastructure decommissioning?

What are the environmental impacts of combining aquaculture types, especially organic matter enrichment?

Use combination scenarios 
The Møreforsking AS team will work with supporting stakeholders to implement the following scenarios:

Scenario 1

Offshore aquaculture with emerging types of aquaculture and/or tourism: In the near future and closer to shore, new synergies will facilitate potential sustainable expansion of existing operations in the Sogn og Fjordane county. This could be done through combinations of the existing salmon aquaculture with low-level trophic organism aquaculture such as kelp (e.g. Saccharina latissima). New tourism offerings involving visits to aquaculture facilities will be tested at a demonstration site, in order to raise the awareness locally and learn about seafood production and safety, salmon aquaculture, integrated multitrophic aquaculture and waste mitigation, sustainable uses of resources, ocean multi-use concept, and sciences based industry. The case study will among other investigate the stakeholder attitudes towards multi-use and further development of aquaculture. Sogn og Fjordane county is a remote place. The uncertainty may lie in how the get the tourists to visit and what site activities need to be developed to bring focus on this region.

Scenario 2

Offshore aquaculture with decommissioned oil & gas installations: As explored in the MUSES project, moving and expanding offshore aquaculture to decommissioned offshore oil & gas installations might be an option. This scenario will consider the environmental and economic feasibility of this use combination in the longer term focusing on the Nordland county. The stakeholder attitudes, logistics of such operations and related risks will be also addressed in this case study.

How will this information be used?

County councils will participate in shaping the scenarios, as they will eventually inform planning and development processes. (see more below under ‘Supporting stakeholders’).

Supporting stakeholders

Local governments Nordland and Sogn og Fjordane County Councils will be involved in scenario development to support innovation and resilience in their coastal communities. Moreover, the Tarelaks consortium in Sogn og Fjordane regroups companies that are already investigating the potential for IMTA: they will support with spatial analysis of the interests and multi-uses, and connections to other stakeholders in their regions.

Further, Tarelaks consortium will also be contributing with its expertise in salmon farming, seaweed cultivation and multi-tropic aquaculture, as well as training experience. It will support the project dissemination, promotion and training activities.

Lead & contact

  • Celine Rebours

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