While sustainability is often associated with environmental issues, the index aims to include economic and social considerations too.
“The index will describe the Norwegian aquaculture industry’s positive and negative impacts. There is already plenty of information available, which we now want to collate and compile with a view to facilitating identification of trends and developments, ie showing the direction the industry is heading in various fields,” explains Kine Mari Karlsen, a senior scientist at Nofima.
“We want to show developments in relation to a number of parameters such as sea lice prevalence, number of escapes, employment figures, production value and drug use. The sustainability index will not weight the various factors or assess whether the aquaculture industry is sustainable or not – the purpose of the portal is simply to provide access to all the facts about the aquaculture industry,” Karlsen added.
The first step in this work is gathering information from public registers and the team aims to publish the first material in the web portal in March 2017. BarentsWatch is responsible for the development of the web portal and the visual presentation of the information in this project.
“We want to collaborate with a broad range of stakeholders: decision makers, environmental organisations, aquaculture companies, and not least all the relevant academic communities, data owners and users of the index. With time, we hope to involve more partners in the project and establish a quality assurance group where experts from different academic communities within sustainability research will be invited to participate,” explains Karlsen.
The project was initiated in June, and the researchers have just started gathering data. As the portal and index take shape, the goal is to make it easier for decision-makers, politicians, the media and other interested parties to access good, balanced information about the aquaculture industry.
“We will collate information for the aquaculture industry on a national level, and some of the data will also be presented on the regional level. However, the sustainability index is not intended to provide information at the individual company level. The index will be dynamic and monitor developments and current issues. We want to reach everyone who is interested in the Norwegian aquaculture industry,” says Roy Robertsen, senior scientist at Nofima.