FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation

Digitalization of aquaculture: confident step into future

Photo: ©EEC press service
14/11/2023

Currently, aquaculture is one of the fastest growing sectors of the agricultural sector globally, and if we try to look beyond the horizon, we can already say with a high degree of certainty that this is the sector that will shape global food security soon.

This was the main message of the report made by Igor Shpakov, consultant at the FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation, on 10 November during the International Conference "Digitalization – a modern trend of ensuring the efficiency of fish farming enterprises", held on Aquadigital platform.

The Conference was organized by Fogstream with the participation of the Department of Agricultural Policy of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) and with the support of the Government of Khabarovsk Krai.

“As of 2020, a record 214 million tonnes (Mt) of commercial fisheries and aquaculture products (including algae) has been achieved globally,” Igor Shpakov stressed. “At the same time, 37% of all fish production goes to international markets, and in monetary terms this share is an impressive 49%, leaving beef (19%), pork (18%) and poultry (11%) far behind.”

The FAO Moscow Office expert noted that 35% of the nearly 600 million people employed in the fisheries sector work in aquaculture production. At the same time, the lion's share of employees is employed in the product processing, logistics and distribution sectors. In real terms, of the 122 Mt of fish production grown globally, about 54 Mt are produced in inland water bodies and more than 65 Mt in marine and coastal aquaculture facilities.

“Not too long ago, aquaculture had already overtaken commercial catch in terms of farmed products destined for human consumption. The trend for the next few years is for total production in fish farming to exceed total industrial fishing, which in addition to food products includes such derivatives as fishmeal and fish oil,” Igor Shpakov stated.

“While during the last decade the most dynamic growth was recorded in Asia, now the countries of this region (primarily China), having reached a high share of global production, have started to focus on product quality and reducing environmental damage. The growth rate here has slightly decreased, but production levels remain very significant,” the speaker said.

Given the important role of the fisheries sector in making a critical contribution to feeding the world's population, as part of a global approach to transforming agrifood systems, FAO has developed a model for improving food production from aquatic bioresources.

The new so-called “Blue Transformation” approach aims to ensure the sustainable expansion and intensification of aquaculture, effective fisheries management, and modernization of aquatic food chains. “It seems that successful work in each of these areas will make it possible to bring the average consumption of fish products to 25.5 kg per person by 2050,” concluded Igor Shpakov.

“Digitalization contributes to organizing effective management, information support and control of production in the fisheries sector of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU),” Armen Harutyunyan, Director of the Department of Agricultural Policy of the Eurasian Economic Commission, said. “In the EAEU countries, aquaculture demonstrates high production dynamics. Thus, over the last five years, this indicator has grown 1.8 times in the Union as a whole, with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and the Russian Federation showing the greatest growth. Mutual trade in fish and fish products between the five countries increased by 1.6 times.”

At the same time, “investment and technology policy in the fisheries sector of the Union must be carried out taking into account all the opportunities for digitalization, as well as the factor of training qualified personnel,” Armen Harutyunyan continued. “Currently, the EEC Agricultural Unit together with the leading agricultural universities of Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Russia is developing a joint educational course for students on fish farming under industrial conditions.”

According to Vladimir Pushkarev, senator of the Russian Federation from the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, "personnel policy issues at aquaculture enterprises is being simultaneously solved by several parties, including specialists of the secondary vocational and higher education system. The professional standard "Aquaculture Engineering Specialist" has been developed and approved and a new speciality "Aquaculture Engineering" has been introduced to train digitally competent industry personnel.

As an additional measure, in 2024, according to a grant, it is planned to establish an appropriate educational and production centre at the St. Petersburg Marine Fishery College (a branch of the Kaliningrad State Technical University)".

All the above says that we see the real situation, we note the industry's demand for the need to implement digitalization of production processes and competent fundamental training of specialised personnel – operators of such digital systems,” Vladimir Pushkarev summed up.

Ivan Pekshev, General Director of STC LLC, analyzed the role of digitalization in ensuring traceability across the entire supply chain. “The digitization of the industry will create a strong inflow of capital and investment: an entrepreneur at any level will know that there is a working platform with production technology for certain types of cultivation (closed water installations, cages, ponds) and fish species, with clear terms of registration, insurance and credit against commodity cycles.”

The expert emphasised that "a unified digital ecosystem will allow manufacturers to see the volume of market needs in real time, to plan the purchase of raw materials, production and storage capacity with this data in mind". As an example, he cited the functionality of the Klevo-Guide platform, designed to help fish feed producers at all stages – from planning for the purchase of raw materials to the moment when the feed "is dropped into the water".

During the subsequent panel sessions, the conference participants discussed successful practices of digitalization of business of Russian and foreign fish farms; conditions for the development of organic aquaculture as a promising area of development of the fishing industry; options for solving the problems of scaling business and overcoming staffing shortages with the help of IT technologies; as well as the specifics of obtaining state support for the development of aquaculture in a competitive market.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 

Aquadigital Platform is a platform for sharing skills and best practices in the automation of fish farms, elaborating proposals, and discussing approaches to create a single online sales and procurement platform for fish farms of the EAEU countries, developing proposals for providing systemic support to the digitalization of fish farms.

The International Conference “Digitalization – a modern trend of ensuring the efficiency of fish farming enterprises”, held at the World Trade Centre in Moscow, brought together representatives of state authorities, scientific and educational institutions, the banking sector, industry business associations, logistics and IT companies of the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, Iran, and Israel.