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31 March 2020

#AquaExpo20 inspires Dorset aquaculture

#AquaExpo20 inspires Dorset aquaculture

The OH20: Aquaculture Expo, hosted by Dorset LEP, took place on 4 March 2020 at Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester.

The expo was the first UK event on aquaculture to discuss the concept of ‘One Health’ which is the interrelation between plant, animal and human health, and is of critical importance to sustainable protein production in aquaculture.

Over 90 people attended the expo, including representatives from the Department for International Trade (DIT), Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), aquaculture businesses, researchers and investors. All attendees benefitted from industry showcases, business/funding advice and networking.

Keynote speaker, Dr Elizabeth Warham, Lead for the DIT’s Agri-tech team, shared why Dorset has been identified as a High Potential Opportunity (HPO) for sustainable aquaculture: “The DIT sees aquaculture as a unique opportunity for the UK to attract further investment and grow exports overseas.”

“Dorset is particularly beneficial because it offers the opportunity to diversify the species of fish, algae, seaweed, molluscs and shellfish that can be produced in the UK.”

“High Potential Opportunities are recognised by the Department for International Trade as a means to promote an area which has had little traction or profiling but has the opportunity for more investment to grow a sector in that region.”

Truly sustainable aquaculture systems include the likes of fish hatcheries, recirculation systems, offshore farms, genetics and alternative feed production. The impacts of these systems in Dorset would reduce our impact on the environment, drive economic growth and make valuable social contributions. 

Professor Grant Stentiford, Animal & Human Health Theme Lead at Cefas, Weymouth said: “There are already great businesses doing aquaculture in Dorset. Dorset, and the south west more generally, is a great place to be doing aquaculture and I think it’s really good for these businesses to hear that we have really good science, evidence and policy support for them in Dorset. Cefas has links with other institutes locally so we’re in a good position to support and drive forward a one health aquaculture system in the region”.

Martin Sutcliffe, Dorset Coast Forum’s Aquaculture Development Officer, focuses on attracting inward investment and driving growth in the aquaculture sector across Dorset. To do this, Dorset Coast Forum has created the Dorset Marine Aquaculture Strategy. Martin explained: “There are four main themes of this strategy: industry support; infrastructure; research & innovation; and training & skills. The geographical conditions in Dorset are excellent for aquaculture and with support from DIT and Cefas, this is an exciting time for both the sector and the region.”

The Principal and Chief Executive of Kingston Maurward College, Luke Rake, - who is also a Dorset LEP Board Member - shared Martin Sutcliffe’s view that Dorset has the perfect environmental conditions for aquaculture: “Aquaculture has potential to grow enormously and Dorset is absolutely key because of our inshore waters and position on the south coast. We have the opportunity to build new businesses and skills, being innovative and utilising the natural resources we already have.” In September, Kingston Maurward College will launch its first course in aquaculture, showing Dorset’s ambition to provide world class aquaculture training and skills.

Finally, Dorset LEP spoke with Yanik Nyberg, Director of Seawater Solutions, an agri-tech company which turns degraded farmland and wetland ecosystems into saltmarsh nature reserves where saline vegetables like samphire can be grown.

“Events like this expo are really crucial in bringing together people from policy, academia and industry. Seawater Solutions approach the One Health agenda from a farming and environmental perspective, which really compliments what other people bring to the table in terms of aquaculture.

“We’re really looking to engage with the fantastic network in the south west of England, primarily because of the sheer number of people that are engaging in this cross sectorial and interdisciplinary approach to climate resilience in aquaculture.”

Becoming a leader in One Health is a key ambition of Dorset’s Local Industrial Strategy (LIS), a draft of which has now been submitted to government. Read the draft submission at www.dorsetlep.co.uk/local-industrial-strategy.

To better understand aquaculture search for #DorsetAquaBites on Twitter and LinkedIn. Visit the Dorset LEP YouTube channel for a series of #DorsetAquaBites videos, including a video entitles ‘Aquaculture in Dorset’ which was filmed at this event. You can also find more information online at www.dorsetlep.co.uk/one-health.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

‘OH20: Aquaculture Expo’ is the shortened event name for the ‘One Health 2020 Aquaculture Expo: Commercial Solutions to Global Problems’. The event took place on 4 March 2020, before government restrictions were placed on gatherings to battle the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership is a business led private and public sector partnership, promoting local economic growth and prosperity. Dorset LEP deliver projects that support and develop infrastructure, housing, skills, enterprise and business growth to achieve long-term economic benefit for all in Dorset. For more information visit the Dorset LEP website http://www.dorsetlep.co.uk/

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