Aquaculture Europe 2023 – Our Plenary Speakers

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By Milthon Lujan

Plenary 1. Tuesday 19. 09h00 to 09h30. Followed by Student Spotlights Awards 09h30 to 10h00.
“Balanced diversity and the responsible use of global resources to produce healthy food”. Prof. Dr. József Popp, Szent István University.

The world food system is facing a decrease in the diversity of crops and animal breeds. The threat to agrobiodiversity and the trend towards homogenisation reduces the sector’s ability to overcome challenges such as climate change or diseases. In contrast to agriculture, aquaculture is expanding in terms of new areas and species as well as diversifying aquatic resources, species, products, systems and technologies. The aquaculture sector currently provides more opportunities for efficient transformation of agriculture and fisheries resources for human protein consumption than much of the terrestrial livestock sector. At the global scale, increasing the diversity of food production activities, the aquaculture sector can improve the resilience of the world’s food system.

Aquaculture both in marine and freshwater has new opportunities to contribute to the sustainable growth and improved resiliency of world food systems. Recent results of research and innovation provide a solid basis for the responsible and balanced use of diverse resources. Despite the relatively low production volume of the freshwater aquaculture sector in Central and Eastern Europe, there is a remarkable trend towards diversification in the use of resources, production of new species and fish products, application of innovative systems and technologies. Even if traditional pond fish production remains an important part of the aquaculture sector in this region, there is a trend towards the wider application of combined intensive-extensive systems, freshwater IMTA systems, recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). Most of these systems and technologies are good examples how to utilize the opportunities that are provided by diversification and circular economy.

József Popp is Professor and Dean at Szent István University, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Hungary. His main research field includes global food-, energy- and environmental security analysis, competitiveness of the food economy, rural development, supply chain management and renewable energy. Professor József Popp obtained his PhD of economics at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and his Dr. Sc. oec. degree at the Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. He is a corresponding Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences where he is the chairman of the Bolyai János research scholarship Committee, the chairman of the Committee on Agricultural Economics and the vice-chairman of the Scientific Committee on Circular Economy. He also serves as a member on a number of editorial boards of international journals worldwide. He has participated in several international research projects and is a member of several national councils related to science and education.

He has received several national and international awards and honours, including: Lifetime Achievement Award, Delhi School of Professional Studies and Research, 2011. Doctorem Honoris Causa Pannon University, Hungary, 2010 and “Honoris Causa Professorship”, Delhi School of Professional Studies and Research, 2010. Award of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Recognition of Research Contributions, 2011.

József Popp is Professor and Dean at Szent István University, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Hungary
József Popp is Professor and Dean at Szent István University, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Hungary

Plenary 2. Wednesday 20. 09h00 to 09h45.
“Breeding for Resilience – Are we ready?” Antti Kause, LUKE and Morten Rye, Benchmark.

We have seen significant impact of breeding programme for the main culture European species over recent years and we have new, better and faster tools to maximise the success of those programmes. But the changes that we face in the short and medium term might mean that our progress is overtaken by those changes. Are the current strains resilient enough? Do we have the necessary tools to support selection goals? What are the risks and opportunities in selecting new strains?

This plenary will be a combined presentation from Antti Kause, Principal Scientist at the Natural Resources Institute (LUKE) in Finland and Morten Rye, Director, External Services and Global Strategies at Benchmark Norway.

Antti Kause leads the genetics and genomics of the fish breeding programmes activities at Luke, and his group has over 20 years of expertise in research and implementing the results in practical fish breeding programmes for the benefit of fish farmers, processors and consumers. He has a total of 79 peer-reviewed publications, 31 h-index, and over 60 popularized articles in fish and aquaculture magazines.

He is the coordinator of the AquaIMPACT EU-project that develops genomic and nutritional applications for the aquaculture industry of the 4 main farmed fish species in EU.

Antti Kause leads the genetics and genomics of the fish breeding programmes activities at Luke
Antti Kause leads the genetics and genomics of the fish breeding programmes activities at Luke

Morten Rye has 35 years of experience in genetic research and large-scale selective breeding programs for 20 aquaculture species worldwide, including the majority of those farmed in Europe. He earned his PhD in Animal Breeding from the Agricultural University of Norway in 1992 and has (co)authored more than 80 scientific papers and book chapters on genetics and selection. He is currently heading Benchmark Genetics’ External Services division.

Morten Rye from  Agricultural University of Norway
Morten Rye from Agricultural University of Norway

Plenary 3. Thursday 21. 11h30 to 12h00 Followed by AE2023 Poster Awards 12h00 to 12h30.
Moving aquaculture to more sustainable, healthier and affordable production, an investor viewpoint. Lissy Smit , CEO Aqua-Spark.

When Aqua-Spark was launched in 2015, it was the first investment fund dedicated to sustainable aquaculture. Aqua-Spark was founded on the believe that sustainable aquaculture is one of the long-term solutions to restore Ocean health, that we do not need to rely on wild resources or extensive antibiotics and chemicals usage to keep fish alive. Often, we invest in solutions before demand is there. We create demand by proving that sustainable practices can be achieved by developing and scaling novel and innovative solutions. Many of our investments have been developed in an academic setting and by working with our network of experts we aim to support these ideas and innovations by proving capital to make them accessible and affordable. Sharing examples of our investment portfolio on how to bring solutions from great ideas and innovations to wide industry adoption.

Lissy is CEO of Aqua-Spark, an impact fund investing in innovative, novel solutions to some of aquaculture’s biggest challenges. Aqua-Spark focuses on investing in solutions across the whole supply chain creating sustainable production by using novel feed ingredients which can replace fishmeal, promoting fish health, finding alternatives for antibiotics, supporting companies and technologies that can improve farm practices, from feeders reducing feed waste to systems collecting data to optimize production, companies creating marketplaces and platforms increasing transparency in the supply chain.

Lissy has over two decades of banking experience mainly in food & agribusiness finance at Rabobank. She set-up the leveraged finance team in Asia and significantly grew the business in North America by working closely with investors to finance companies in the food and agricultural sector. After eight years working in Hong Kong, New York and London, Lissy returned to the Netherlands to lead Rabobank’s global lending business. While sitting on Rabobank’s Investment Committee Lissy first learned about Aqua-Spark and realized the real challenges and opportunities in aquaculture and the role capital can play to develop the perfect food system for the future.

Lissy Smit , CEO Aqua-Spark.  Fotografie t.b.v. Aquaspark. © COPYRIGHT: VINCENT BOON 2022
Lissy Smit , CEO Aqua-Spark. Fotografie t.b.v. Aquaspark. © COPYRIGHT: VINCENT BOON 2022

More information about Aquaculture Europe 2023 here.

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