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Capital event to unveil farm of the future

UK - The high-tech offshore fish farm of the future, which will be packed with new engineering innovation, will be unveiled at a major conference in Edinburgh this week.

Delegates at Aquaculture Today 2007 , the UK’s leading fish farming conference, will hear that modern aquaculture priorities will take the crucial farming sector into new territory, moving the industry away from an inshore context. This new frontier is likely to spark a “blue revolution” similar to the “green revolution” which revolutionised and updated the agricultural industry last century.

Donal Maguire, Aquaculture Development Manager with the Irish Sea Fisheries Board (BIM), will say that developing offshore aquaculture in real terms is an enormous and extremely important task. "We need to replace the green revolution with the blue revolution," he is set to tell delegates.

With the world’s population expanding at an exponential rate, the demand for protein-rich foods such as seafood has never been greater. And due to the pressure already being placed on wild stocks, fish farming is becoming more important than ever. Aquaculture is the fastest growing food supply in the world. According to World Bank estimations, the production of farmed fish will outstrip the production of beef by 2010. Furthermore, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), says global aquaculture production will need to nearly double by the year 2050 to meet consumer demand.

The international aquaculture industry is looking for ways to enhance its efficiency in order to gear up production. Advocates of offshore fish farming say it is the only viable option for meeting the increased demand for global seafood production.

Ireland has a vested interest in the industry's development, given that it is surrounded by some of the highest wave energy waters in the world. In fact, Ireland's Clare Island Seafarms is one of the most exposed fish farms in the world and has already embraced offshore techniques.

While nobody has successfully trialled an offshore aquaculture initiative in the UK yet, a top DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) official has said there may well be scope for such development to take place in UK waters.

Aquaculture Today 2007 will be held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh from April 17-19.

the Fish Site Editor

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