Net Spend: Vietnam invests in the future of aquaculture
August 31, 2018

Vietnam is reported to be developing plans to become the world’s top aquaculture producer.  As you might expect from NLA we want to explore what top means in reality.

There is no doubt that substantial growth in aquaculture is a safe bet.  Growing population means growing demand for protein and so the market is expanding and with it the opportunity for financial gain.

According to the FAO, aquaculture already accounts for 47% of the seafood we consume; the World Bank estimates that, by 2030, that figure will rise to 62%.

Additionally, in its comprehensive 2016 report (The Ocean Economy in 2030), the OECD highlighted the industrial marine aquaculture market as one of the key prospects for high long-term growth, with employment within the sector predicted to increase by over 150% by 2030.

But how is this capitalisation being balanced by the needs of societies, cultures and ecology to ensure that all three are sustained in the long term?  And what role might technology play in achieving this equilibrium? The Blue Economy, when implemented well, ensures environmental considerations are met whilst engaging local societies in the process and ensuring that the prosperity that is created is fairly distributed.

Our research in aquaculture sees a development and growth in both plant size and design with some providers such as Aquatraz acknowledging the role of sustainability whilst others focus more on capacity.  Nutrition for farmed fish is also an area of substantial interest that is fuelling growth both in innovative algae based approaches as well as animal protein solutions.

Companies such as Aquabyte (Norway and USA) are developing machine learning and data visualisation capabilities for fish farmers, promising to identify potential problems and suggest ideal feed flows – ultimately, harnessing data to increase yields.

In New Zealand, the Precision Farming for Aquaculture project is focusing on radically reducing maintenance costs by introducing chemical and imaging sensors to allow farmers monitor conditions remotely from a computer or mobile device.

Whilst there have been developments in the understanding of marine spatial planning and monitoring in relation to aquaculture they appear to be less of a focus.  The placing of aquaculture sites causes environmental impacts that are in the early stages of being truly understood.  Likewise the surrounding environmental inputs to aquaculture sites appears to be an area yet to fulfil its market potential.  Such ‘input monitoring’ not only offers potential for higher yields with aquaculture installations (for example through the prediction of damaging harmful algal blooms) but also offers innovative companies the opportunity to ‘sell spades’ during the aquaculture ‘gold rush’, exploring growth in a new and fast developing market.

So, becoming the top aquaculture provider may mean more than having the greatest tonnage of output or the most financial value to export sales.  To truly become the top aquaculture producer it is also vital to sustain that status in the long term through research and innovative implementation of technologies as well as developing a thorough understanding of social impacts and environmental impacts.

Vietnam’s authorities are facing up to the opportunity. Earlier in the year, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporter and Producers revealed that the central coastal province of Phu Yen will spend nearly 2.12 VND trillion (93 million USD) developing aquaculture until 2025.

Money worth investing, however, when the country’s aim is to achieve aquaculture export value of USD 10 billion USD by 2050.

NLA’s own aquaculture research continues with concepts to trial environmental monitoring using technologies such as space-based earth observation, machine learning and the underwater internet of things.

As ever, we are also actively seeking opportunities to engage and collaborate with aquaculture operators and suppliers to share our findings and concepts and to gain insights from the experience of others.

If you are engaged in aquaculture and would like to understand more about our work or share your own insights please comment on this article or contact us directly via hello@nlaltd.co.uk


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