Aquaculture for all

Norwegian government invests £3.5 million to save country's kelp forests

Restorative aquaculture Technology & equipment Seaweed / Macroalgae +6 more

An initiative that aims to harvest invasive sea urchins in Northern Norway to help revitalise the region’s kelp forests has received funding worth NOK 47 million (£3.5 million) from the Norwegian government.

Ava Ocean's flagship vessel, Arctic Pearl

© Marius Fiskum

The grant funding has been awarded to Ava Oceans, which has developed a non-destructive way of harvesting benthic organisms, such as scallops, from the seabed, rather than indiscriminately destructive dredges.

The funding will go to the Ocean Green Project, which will not only target urchins, but also look into developing novel products from the harvested urchins.

Other participants in the three-year project are Wild Lab Projects, NIBIO Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Norsk institutt for vannforskning (NIVA), Akvaplan-niva, Hofseth BioCare ASA and Wandering Owl.

Ava Oceans announced the funding on LinkedIn, stating: “We are exited to embark on this three year project at the beginning of 2024. The project demonstrates our unique seabed harvesting technology’s adaptability and potential beyond the current fishery for scallops in the Barents Sea, as well as our commitment to push boundaries to generate real positive change in the industry.”

A year of milestones

The grant funding marks the end of an impressive year for Ava Ocean, whose unique harvesting gear combines an advanced water-flow system with AI and camera technology to precision-pick target seafood species, while allowing smaller sized specimens or bycatch to be returned to the seabed undamaged.

After extensive trials with the Norwegian Institute for Marine Research, the Norwegian government granted Ava Ocean the first licence to harvest Arctic scallops in the Barents Sea in more than three decades in late 2022, following the banning of dredging.

The company secured a €10 million investment from the Ocean 14 Capital Fund in August.

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