The European Commission’s Blue Growth agenda for the Baltic Sea Region identifies aquaculture as one of the most promising sectors of the region’s maritime economy in terms of growth and job potential. However, in the South Baltic area, aquaculture is not a widely established sector yet. The Interreg South Baltic project AquaVIP (Aquaculture virtual career development platform for the South Baltic region) was launched in 2020 with a plan to change the situation.
There is significant demand for a high-qualified personnel and knowledge in modern aquaculture. In order to develop innovative aquaculture sector and move the focus into the South Baltic region, competencies and knowledge are crucial. This is where AquaVIP will have a field for action. A three-year project is led by Klaipeda Science and Technology Park (Lithuania), and accompanied by University of Rostock (Germany), University of Gdańsk (Poland), and Klaipeda University (Lithuania).
AquaVIP partners present great capacity in aquaculture competences. Together with their previous experience in aquaponics, microalgae cultivation, recirculating aquaculture systems, project will focus on boosting education through the training of students and professionals in the sector with the aim of well-prepared labour force, higher business capacity in innovative aquaculture, and ultimately – the expansion of the aquaculture market in the South Baltic area. The project will pay particular attention to investigating best practices and exchange knowledge and experience related to human resource capacities for the aquaculture sector area’s blue and green economy, cooperation with partners and joint development of tailored solutions for boosting human resource capacities, testing innovative methods and tools. AquaVIP will form international networks with organizations pursuing the same mission, and explore the cross-sector cooperation possibilities.
Nine experiments to be carried out in partners’ facilities are foreseen as core activities for the training and networking. The research activities will include: establishment of artificial feed chains for the culture of sensitive fish larvae, aquaponics including Litopenaeus vannamei and microalgae, growth and nutritional value of Litopenaeus vannamei and of native and non-native shrimps from the Baltic Sea cultivated in small-scale RAS systems, whiteleg shrimp RAS technology optimization, new „shrimp tower“ RAS concept, application of brackish salinity in freshwater fish RAS cultivation, geothermal brine for water salination in marine RAS, and indoor culture technology for Daphnia sp. and its use as additional live feed for fish.
In the framework of this project, we will put a strong base for strengthening aquaculture programmes in the universities, provide hands-on-experience for academic communities and create conditions for changes in the labour market. Innovative aquaculture will benefit businesses in our region and society in general – as it will provide healthy, secure and regionally produced high quality food. The use of innovative environmentally friendly production technologies will also open new and international markets, providing further new jobs and blue-green growth in the South Baltic area.