Blooming Blue Bioeconomy

Here in the North, aquaculture and greenhouse farming ecosystems might well be the next big success story. Now, OIA’s Industry 2026 ecosystem in cooperation with Laitakarin Kala Oy is paving the way for the food production of the future by utilising latest industry innovations.

By 2030, the world needs 50 % more food, 45 % more energy and 30 % more water. This increase in demand creates pressure on supply. Additionally, it creates pressure for food safety and domestic food production, in the areas where production conditions are harsh. Currently in Finland, of all the fish sold on the market, two thirds is imported.

Laitakarin Kala is applying for Finland’s single biggest fish farm license for the area located just north of Oulu, in Haukipudas. Upon completion, Laitakarin Kala will produce over 1 million kilos of rainbow trout per year to be sold on both domestic and international markets. Trouts are farmed both at open sea and on land in a recirculation aquaculture system.

“The first new innovation in the field of aquaculture is how we combine sea cage farming and recirculation aquaculture and use both efficiently side by side in our processes in Arctic conditions”, says Timo Karjalainen, the CEO of Laitakarin Kala Oy.

Towards more sustainable food production

Fish is the food of the future. When 50 % more food is needed, fish is the go-to choice, since it is the most resource efficient source of animal-based protein there is.

“The carbon footprint stays in check, since the carbon footprint of beef production is six times larger and poultry 1.5 when compared to rainbow trout. When the population grows, we need efficient means of feeding it without leaving too big of a carbon footprint,” says Industry 2026’s Pekka Tervonen.

Sustainability and profitability in food production is a challenge on Northern latitudes. Even though fish is a resource efficient product on a global scale, it takes a tremendous amount of know-how to make production profitable and sustainable. New solutions and innovations are needed to stay in the game.

“A challenge of this scale is not for one entity to tackle, but requires cooperation and research expertise, the kind of which we in the OIA ecosystems have”, Tervonen continues.

Blue innovations

“Laitakarin Kala’s significant material streams and ambitious plans allow for outside-the-box thinking and new innovations. The key is to expand our views beyond the fish farming currently planned on the site”, Tervonen says.

Industry 2026 ecosystem has just recently launched a project for Blue Bioeconomy Ecosystem that aims to build a wider business and research ecosystem around Laitakarin Kala. The very best expertise from the University of Oulu, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), and Finnish Environment Institute (Syke), have been summoned to take up the challenge.

The aim is to create a more sustainable and profitable food production concept based on symbioses between actors, renewable energy, the utilisation of by-products, and clean solutions.

“Significant amounts of by-products, such as fish oil, are produced that another actor could develop their own business out of, thus benefitting both parties. High-quality fish oil can be used for e.g. in the cosmetics industry. Also, nutrients from the recirculating system could perhaps be utilised e.g. in green house cultivation, and bio mass unsuitable for refinement could be used in energy production”, Karjalainen suggests.

All of these different functions could have a decisive role in making business profitable. One or two functions can tip the scales from unprofitable to profitable. Laitakarin Kala itself will operate regardless, provided that the permits applied for are granted. Being able to create a profitable blue bioeconomy ecosystem around it would add value to all parties involved.

Regarding the next steps of the project, Karjalainen is expecting Laitakarin Kala to receive its environment permit in upcoming months, and negotiations for funding are underway as a partner of Hätälä Oy. Meanwhile, OIA’s research partners explore the big picture and research the benefits of symbiotic cooperation.

“In 2020, we should have an aquaculture site and a fully functional, blue bioeconomy-based business ecosystem where several players work in symbiosis”, Tervonen says.