Developing a sustainability index for the Norwegian aquaculture industry
Scientists from Nofima and SINTEF are currently collating the available data – positive and negative – on the aquaculture industry relating to environmental, economic and social repercussions. The information will be made available in a web portal that presents the industry's sustainability.
The Norwegian Seafood Research Fund (FHF) has funded the development of a sustainability index for the Norwegian aquaculture industry, because sustainability is a key parameter in assessing the further growth in Norway and development of the Norwegian aquaculture industry. Sustainability of the aquaculture industry is often associated with environmental sustainability, economic and social considerations are seldom included when discussing sustainability.
The sustainability index that is currently under development aims to provide a more balanced knowledge base. The index is intended for use by anyone interested and will provide an overview of the state of the aquaculture industry on the basis of three criteria: environmental impact, economics and social ripple effects.
“The index will describe the Norwegian aquaculture industry’s positive and negative impacts. There is already plenty of information available, which we now want to collate and compile with a view to facilitating identification of trends and developments, i.e. showing the direction the industry is heading in various fields,” explains Kine Mari Karlsen, a senior scientist at Nofima. We want to show developments in relation to a number of parameters such as sea lice prevalence, number of escapes, employment figures, production value and drug use. The sustainability index will not weight the various factors or assess whether the aquaculture industry is sustainable or not – the purpose of the portal is simply to provide access to all the facts about the aquaculture industry.
The first step in this work is gathering information from public registers. Kine Mari Karlsen and her colleagues from Nofima and SINTEF hope to publish the first material in the web portal in March 2017. BarentsWatch is responsible for the development of the web portal and the visual presentation of the information in this project.
“We want to collaborate with a broad range of stakeholders: decision makers, environmental organisations, aquaculture companies, and not least all the relevant academic communities, data owners and users of the index. With time, we hope to involve more partners in the project and establish a quality assurance group where experts from different academic communities within sustainability research will be invited to participate,” explains Karlsen.
“This project can be likened to building a house – we need to find out what we have and what is missing. First, we must establish a solid foundation, then build the basic shell, and then fill in the gaps. We are going to ‘move into’ the index as soon as we can – even if not all of the rooms are ready and some of the finishing touches are still outstanding. It will take some time before we can get a ‘certificate of completion’, but we have to do it this way, because we want our work to be transparent and as many people as possible to contribute.,” says the senior scientist.
The project was initiated in June 2016, and the researchers have just started gathering data. As the portal and index take shape, the goal is to make it easier for decision-makers, politicians, the media and other interested parties to access good, balanced information about the aquaculture industry.
“We will collate information for the aquaculture industry on a national level, and some of the data will also be presented on the regional level. However, the sustainability index is not intended to provide information at the individual company level. The index will be dynamic and monitor developments and current issues. We want to reach everyone who is interested in the Norwegian aquaculture industry,” says Roy Robertsen, senior scientist at Nofima.