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Report highlights value of technology in seafood industry

Published: 31/03/2022

A new report has been published highlighting the importance of innovative technology in the seafood industry.

Elaine Jamieson, HIE

The report forms part of ‘DisruptAqua’, a transnational project led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in partnership with the Iceland Ocean Cluster and Nofima, the Norwegian aquaculture research institute, which has published the report.  

It shows how technologies can support growth in the seafood sector, retain value in the supply chain and help in the transition towards net zero.

The study highlights specific ICT technologies, such as blockchain (see notes), internet of things and artificial intelligence that are most suitable for seafood businesses in this part of the world.

The Highlands and Islands is one of the most sparsely populated parts of Europe, similar to some parts of the Arctic. The common challenges presented by rurality create opportunities for joint working between Scotland and some Scandinavian countries.

The report highlights potential benefits of implementing blockchain, such as maximising shelf life, helping to reduce waste, increasing efficiency in the supply chain, reducing food fraud and tracking food freshness.

One example, included in the report, is small-scale family-owned salmon producer Kvarøy Arctic, in northern Norway. The company produces 8,000 tonnes of salmon a year. Its focus, driven by their customers, is on producing sustainable and environmentally friendly high-quality salmon. 

The company’s decision to implement blockchain technology was in response to customers’ active interest in how fish is produced. It enabled full traceability from the eggs to the retailer. The business can share this product journey through a simple QR code that can be scanned with a phone camera.

Elaine Jamieson, HIE’s head of blue economy and food and drink, said:

“With increasing demand for sustainable seafood, innovative use of technologies is becoming more important. This project examines cutting-edge approaches to growing and maintaining high value opportunities in seafood industries.

“The report highlights how digital tools, such as blockchain, can be used to boost consumer confidence and engagement internationally. Being able to track a product’s entire journey recognises the value associated with provenance, environmental stewardship, quality and trust.”

In March, HIE hosted a conference to explore how blockchain could be adopted by seafood businesses in Scotland. This promoted the practical application of the technology and how it can add value to business. Over the next two months, HIE will develop a route map on how blockchain technologies could be applied. 

DisruptAqua is worth €155,000 and is being supported by the European Union’s Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA) 2014-2020.

The DisruptAqua project has secured €85,000 from NPA, supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). HIE’s contribution is €17,500 and brings in a further €35,500 from ERDF, and the rest made up from the other partners.