Reef relief


Norwegian salmon farmer Kvarøy Arctic is supporting a more diversified, equitable, and climate-change resilient food system through its contribution to two aquaculture projects in a not-for-profit initiative. The two projects involve repopulating endangered coral and helping to feed a community hit by disaster.

Kvarøy, a third-generation Atlantic salmon farm on the Island of Kvarøy along Norway’s Arctic Circle, is underwriting two separate grants in the budding World Central Kitchen (WCK) Food Producer Network programme. The grants will provide vital support for two aquaculture projects: Coral Vita in The Bahamas and Tilapia de la Faja in Guatemala.

“World Central Kitchen is a nonprofit organization founded by Chef José Andrés that uses the power of food to nourish communities and strengthen economies through times of crisis and beyond,” explains Mikol Hoffman, Director of WCK’s Food Producer Network.

“[It] has created a new model for disaster response through its work helping devastated communities recover and establish resilient food systems. WCK has served more than 50 million fresh meals to people impacted by natural disasters and other crises around the world in countries including The Bahamas, Indonesia, Lebanon, Mozambique, Venezuela, and the United States.

“WCK’s Food Producer Network was launched in Puerto Rico in September 2018, when our immediate goal was to help our food producers revitalize their operations after the catastrophic damages suffered from hurricanes Irma and María the year before. Today we are looking beyond disaster recovery and to the future of food systems as we help our grantee partners in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, and Guatemala contribute to a system-wide increase in food production capacity and food security, over and above pre-hurricane levels.”

Kvarøy Arctic’s support was inspired by the words of its CEO Alf-Gøran Knutsen: “Quality of life for the world’s children in 2050 depends on our decisions today. Every decision we make must stem from a deeply rooted commitment to protecting the planet for future generations. There’s an old saying, ‘We do not inherit the world from our parents. We borrow it from our children.’ This is the tenet from which all of our actions are based.”

Jennifer Bushman, Kvarøy Arctic’s Strategic Development Officer, says: “Supporting organisations that build resilient food systems in the face of climate change is an important part of our advocacy work. We feel that by helping to rebuild communities after natural disasters that we are better preparing them to be self-sufficient in good times and in bad. We suggested an aquaculture track to World Central Kitchen for their Food Producer Network and, with them, launched their first programme in support of aquaculture. We are hoping that others will dive in with us!”

She adds: “We believe in the importance of supporting a diverse array of projects to benefit the health of our oceans and our communities globally. Aquaculture isn’t a well-known industry in the Caribbean and we believe our support through this WCK program will help grow the industry for the benefit of us all.”

Based in the Bahamas, Coral Vita is the world’s first commercial land-based coral farm.

“Coral Vita was founded to preserve coral reefs for future generations,” its Co-Founder and Chief Reef Officer Sam Teicher told Fish Farmer. “Half of coral reefs are dead and over 90% are on track to die by 2050. This is not just an ecological tragedy, but a socio-economic catastrophe, as reefs sustain 25% of marine life and the livelihoods of up to one billion people, while powering tourism economies and sheltering coastlines from storm surge.

“The best thing to do for coral reefs is to stop killing them, which requires our political and industrial leaders to meaningfully act to solve for climate change, habitat destruction, overfishing, and pollution. Until that happens though, adaptation solutions like coral reef restoration must be radically transformed and upscale, which is why Coral Vita was founded.”

Coral Vita is dedicated to maintaining and re-growing coral reefs incorporating breakthrough techniques for growing coral up to 50 times faster, while boosting resilience against warming, acidifying oceans. The original farm was mostly destroyed by a 17ft storm surge due to Hurricane Dorian.

After focusing on humanitarian aid in the aftermath, Coral Vita is returning to its core mission, sustaining the ecosystems that support the local community and help protect it from the threat of increasing storms.

Through the grant, Coral Vita will invest in critical infrastructure for its project including a heat pump system, a heat exchange system, and a UVC filter, all of which are necessary due to the compromised water table from recent hurricanes. These innovations will allow Coral Vita to increase its efforts from growing hundreds to over ten thousand coral fragments and build capacity for local jobs and tourism.

“The support of WCK and Kvarøy Arctic has helped us rebuild our farm even better than it was before the devastation of Hurricane Dorian,” says the other co-founder Gator Halpern. “We’ve been able to scale our operations and increase the efficiency of our coral farming infrastructure to further benefit the reef ecosystem and community of The Bahamas.”

The second aquaculture project to gain WCK support is Tilapia de la Faja in Guatemala, in an area that was impacted by the eruption of the Fuego Volcano in 2018. The organic tilapia farm was founded three years ago by seven young entrepreneurs and produces a new source of food and employment for a growing community. With this grant, Tilapia de la Faja is building seven new tilapia ponds and implementing the use of oxygenators facilitating year-round production and a steady stream of protein. Currently, the farm is supplying fish to five communities within their municipality. The growth of production will dramatically increase their impact, allowing them to reach 45 communities with an uninterrupted supply of fresh, organic tilapia.

A spokesperson for Tilapia de la Faja told Fish Farmer: “With this support we will have nine tanks in total, that will allow us to grow Tilapia year round. This is huge as the tilapia is one of the only local sources of protein in our community that will now be readily available all year. We hope to become self-sustainable after this grant. We’re projecting 400% growth. Before the grant, we were farming about 1,500 pounds of tilapia. Long term, we’re looking at diversifying beyond tilapia into other species of sustainable seafood.”

Next up for Kvarøy Arctic is its land-based farm: a “stunning flowthrough system on the northern coast of Norway,” says Jennifer Bushman. “This farm will be supported by our feed model, the Kvarøy smolt hatchery and our processing relationships. There will even be a biofuel based wellboat—only the second ever put into production! All of this will be up and running by late 2023 if all goes as planned.”



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