World population is expected to grow by over a third, or 2.3 billion people, between 2009 and 2050. The projections show that feeding a world population of 9.1 billion people in 2050 would require raising overall food production by some 70 percent between 2005/07 and 2050. Production in the developing countries would need to almost double. This implies significant increases in the production of several key commodities. The world leaders recognize that is time to farm the oceans, instead of continuing to deplete its resources, opening the road towards the increasing development of aquaculture industries.
The European Context
The Atlantic Area aquaculture sector has a significant growth potential and can help to spare overexploited sea resources. As outlined in the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, the aquaculture industry can help fill the gap between an ever growing consumption of seafood and dwindling fish stocks. In fact, it can provide a viable alternative to overfishing and generate growth and jobs in both coastal and inland areas. Nevertheless, to fill this gap we need to match a deep understanding of the seafood market and evolution of consumption trends with optimised aquaculture production models.
As aquaculture it is moving from being a new farming activity to an evolving modern food industry, it is crucial that technology and systems are used to maximum advantage to fully exploit the potential of the European aquaculture industry. The ubiquitous connection of people, things and machines; the contributions to automation, monitoring and analysis; strengthening the efficiency and competitiveness of the industry, supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy.
Aquatropolis – The alliance for Sustainable Aquacultures
The Aquatropolis consortium has the mission to promote innovation, technological development and internationalization of Portuguese technology for sustainable development of the aquaculture sector, in line with the principles advocated by the European strategy for Blue Growth, with the action plan for its implementation in the Atlantic Region, and the objectives of “European Digital Agenda”, supporting the principles of the Smart Cities on the mission to colonize in an efficient and sustainable way the 71% of the planet occupied by the ocean.
The “Aquatropolis” consortium aims to develop a disruptive framework for an intelligent, optimized and automated management of aquaculture operations, promoting the productive efficiency, food quality and safety, better information for the consumer and, above all, the control of aquaculture activities in the maritime space.
The solution will take advantage of the full potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) and “fog” computational systems in order to support aquaculture producers with cutting-edge technologies to move from an empirical production model to a systematic approach.
The framework architecture comprises five main components:
- Intelligence Unit: Connects all the units converting raw data into mean full production information
- Market Unit: Aligns the production decision making with the market trends
- Biomass Unit: Monitor and estimate the existing biomass in the production ecosystem
- Environmental Unit: Monitor all the environmental parameters to stabilize the production ecosystem
- Automation Unit: Promotes the integration and automation of production and business processes