The coast is full of low-trophic level species that can be used for food, feed and health products. Now industry players, scientists, decision-makers and stakeholder organisations are forming a national network to share knowledge and promote low-trophic aquaculture.

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Morgan Lillegård  

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In Tromsø, 50 people have gathered for a two-day meeting where the network will be established. The gathering is funded by the Research Council of Norway. 

Many people think of seafood as mainly fish and shellfish, but seafood is so much more. Sea urchins, shells, seaweed and kelp are all low-trophic species with major potential as food, feed and health products. Many of the species also have lower greenhouse gas emissions than those that are traditionally caught and farmed today.

No ribbon but kelp. Tromsø’s mayor Gunnar Wilhelmsen cut the kelp during the launch of a network for new farming species at Nofima’s head office in Tromsø, Norway. On the left, Bente E. Torstensen, division director Aquaculture at Nofima. On the right, Harald Sveier, head of research at Lerøy Seafood Group ASA. Photo: Rune Stoltz Bertinussen/Nofima

Division Director Bente Torstensen in Nofima believes that a national low-trophic network can contribute to increased investment in low-trophic farming in Norway through technology development and knowledge of low-trophic aquaculture.

“The world needs more food and more feed. The number of people on the planet is constantly growing, and with our coastline, Norway can contribute to food production.  Low-trophic species are a resource that may become very important in the near future, says Torstensen, Division Director for Aquaculture at Nofima.”

In Norway, there are many players who work with low-trophic aquaculture, but it is only now that they have gathered across species to collaborate on a national network. Plans are being developed in the network for, among other things, sharing experience between industry actors, and many of them believe that this industry will have a turnover in the billions in the near future. 

The Norwegian Seaweed Association already exists. Close cooperation is planned with this kelp network, which was established just under two years ago.

“Low-trophic aquaculture is an industry that is developing at full speed. We are experiencing a lot of interest from start-ups who want to learn more about the different species. Our goal is to start an annual professional conference in Tromsø that can provide them with new knowledge, says senior scientist Petter Olsen at Nofima.”

The seafood city of Tromsø

Tromsø’s mayor Gunnar Wilhelmsen tastes sea urchins in connection with the establishment of a national network for new farming species in Tromsø.Foto: Rune Stoltz Bertinussen/Nofima

Together with project partners, the University of Tromsø, NORCE and Bellona, Nofima wants to contribute to the industry gaining access to the latest research, technology and practice.

Nofima already leads Europe’s largest EU project on low-trophic aquaculture, AquaVitae. The research institute is also a key participant in two of the largest EU projects on seaweed and kelp.

“Tromsø is Norway’s largest fishing port and is a seafood city. Traditionally, we think of fish, whether wild or farmed, as seafood. But there is so much more, which is why, as mayor of Tromsø, I welcome this network. I believe that it can create synergies that make this new industry grow quickly”, says Gunnar Wilhelmsen, mayor of Tromsø.

We mostly harvest fish that are high in the food chain. Several companies are now looking at new species further down the food chain. Low-trophic aquaculture has lower greenhouse gas emissions and great potential because food producers make little use of this resource. 


Although low-trophic species are suitable for food, they are also suitable for feed. Today, a lot of imported soy is used in feed for salmon farming. Low-trophic species for feed production can help reduce emissions and make the feed more sustainable. In addition, several of the species contain a high level of Omega3, minerals and vitamins, which are good for both fish and people who eat low-trophic species. 

Mari Bjordal in Bellona attended the opening and says:

“As an environmental organisation, we in Bellona see great potential for the cultivation of species low on the food chain. These species can contribute nutritious food and other bio-resources for which we have an increasing need, while production puts little pressure on the resources that we lack, such as fresh water, fertiliser and land. They can also help us to tackle challenges that we have with excessively high concentrations of nutrients (eutrophication) in certain coastal areas.” 

She adds: 

“Many of the low-trophic level species are new farmed species in Norway. The new national network will contribute to the exchange of knowledge and experience and thus will also speed up the development of new, low-trophic species in aquaculture.”

Here are the participants at the meeting where the new network was established In the middle Tromsø’s mayor Gunnar Wilhelmsen. Foto: Rune Stoltz Bertinussen/Nofima

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