An inspiring start to a long life of research
Just before Christmas, Prof. Emeritus Trygve Gjedrem will celebrate his 88th birthday by closing the office doors for one final time, leaving Nofima in Norway after a long life spent in the service of science. What inspired him to keep going for so long?
After studying and doing research in animal husbandry and breeding at the Norwegian College of Agriculture, Gjedrem began to work with fish in 1971. “In those days there was quite a lot of scepticism about applying principles and knowledge of farm animal breeding to fish breeding. But we managed to show that it worked! Already in the first generation of selectively bred salmon, the fish grew 15 percent faster than the preceding generation,” says Gjedrem with a glint in his eye.
This success opened the way for further research work. Together with Professor Harald Skjervold, he was responsible for developing the world’s first family-based breeding programme for fish. This work can be considered to constitute one of the single most important factors in the development of the Norwegian salmon aquaculture industry. Gjedrem was the first Head of the Akvaforsk research institute, which is now a part of Nofima, and has remained here ever since.
From salmon to shrimp, tilapia and carp
The breeding work with Norwegian salmon, which was also unique from an international perspective, had a ripple effect. Gjedrem was convinced that equivalent genetic advances could be made in farmed tropical species, leading to breeding projects on shrimp in Hawaii, carp in India and tilapia in the Philippines for him and his team. The latter project in particular, which became known as GIFT, had a massive effect on the growth of tilapia farming in many parts of the world.
For his efforts and achievements, Trygve Gjedrem was named an Honorary Life Member of the World Aquaculture Society in 2014. He has also been named Knight, First Class, of the Royal Norwegian Order of Saint Olav.
In recent years, his concentration has been on writing and publishing review articles, as well as mentoring other Nofima researchers. His most recent textbook came out as recently as 2009.
“We are extremely grateful to have had the honour of having Trygve as such a fantastically inspiring and committed member of our faculty for so long,” says Ingrid Olesen, Head of Department of Breeding and Genetics in Nofima.
Even at the end of his career, the engaging researcher’s passion is unabated.
“We have to culture the sea! The seas produce masses of algae and plankton, that shellfish can ingest. To utilise these resources effectively, we can’t grow wild shellfish, we have to breed! I predict a major future for this!”