Aquaculture for a Thriving Future

Turning the spotlight on nature positive shellfish and seaweed farming, this dynamic, free, one-day conference aimed to act as a melting pot for professionals, policymakers, researchers, farmers, and industry experts to discuss and strategize on accelerating low-trophic aquaculture in the UK.

The Conference Proceedings can be found here, highlighting Key Messages and Actions for Government.

You can revisit the full programme agenda here.

All presentations are available below, organised by session.

This session was chaired by John Goodlad. John has worked in the seafood industry all his life. For many years he managed his own fish farm in Shetland. He now chairs Fisheries Innovation Sustainability as well as providing strategic advice to several fisheries and aquaculture companies. He is also a published author. John became a member of the Livery at the Fishmongers’ Company at the beginning of 2023.

Fishmongers’ Welcome – Eleanor Adamson, Fisheries Programme Manager, The Fishmongers’ Company

Blue Economy and Aquaculture, International PerspectiveStefán Jón Hafstein, Aquatic Food Coalition

Link to presentation.

Currently Special Envoy for Ocean Affairs, Stefán is former ambassador of Iceland to the UN Rome Based Agencies (FAO,WFP, IFAD), former Country Director for Iceland in Uganda and Malawi for development, formerly project manager for Iceland in Namibia and earlier for the Red Cross on several international missions.

Aquaculture and Blue Growth The Crown Estate Perspective – Caroline Price, The Crown Estate

Link to presentation.

Caroline is a marine biologist and maritime specialist with over 20 years’ experience of working across the sector. As a Development Director for The Crown Estate, she is working to unlock opportunities for sustainable blue growth and nature based opportunities that help achieve UK nature recovery and decarbonisation targets, whilst delivering an equitable economic transition for all.

Scottish Blue Economy Vision – Anneli Hill, Crown Estate Scotland

Link to presentation.

Anneli Hill works for Crown Estate Scotland (CES) as the Aquaculture Planning & Engagement Manager. Anneli specialises in identifying opportunities for Crown Estate Scotland to add value to the aquaculture and marine portfolio. Anneli has supported the assessment and implementation of the aquaculture leasing root and branch review, leads on wild seaweed harvesting and natural capital leasing, data projects to inform asset management and workstreams assessing how CES can help manage interactions in the marine environment.  Anneli’s goal is to have a more diverse and resilient aquaculture sector for Scotland.

This session was chaired by Dr Jen Ashworth. Jen  is Head of Domestic Marine Conservation at Defra which includes responsibilities for marine protected areas and marine licensing. She has been with Defra for 5 years previously working on marine protected areas and marine management at Natural England. Jen is also a member of the Fishmongers’ Company.

Restorative Aquaculture – A CES Perspective – Alex Adrian, Crown Estate Scotland

Link to presentation.

As aquaculture Operations Manager for Crown Estate Scotland, Alex is responsible for the organisation’s  finfish, shellfish and seaweed cultivation and seaweed harvesting business activities. He also participates in various industry and government forums, both in Scotland and more widely around the UK, and has been involved in aquaculture development across all of the UK jurisdictions. Prior to joining The Crown Estate 16 years ago, Alex worked in the Scottish salmon farming industry for 19 years, chiefly in fish health, technical, site development and representational roles.

Marine plan updates, marine evidence, new seaweed guidance – Ben Coppin & Fern Skeldon, Marine Management Organisation

Ben joined the MMO Marine Planning team in 2018 and currently working as a project manager, and also continuing his long-term role as policy lead for aquaculture, leading on aquaculture policy writing, evidence development and stakeholder engagement. Prior to his career in the MMO, he worked in oil and gas exploration and geotechnical engineering for several years, following graduation from the University of Southampton with a degree in Oceanography.
Fern has worked in Marine Licensing for 14 years, having started in the Marine and Fisheries Agency, she moved to the MMO when it came into being in 2010.  She has held various positions within the team and currently heads the Project Speed team in the strategic of Marine Licensing.  This is looking at efficiencies and improvements that can be made to policy and guidance to best support industry and the team.

UK Green Finance Taxonomy – defining nature positive activities as a green investment – Sandie Gene Muir & Ryan Jude, Green Finance Institute

Link to presentation.

Ryan is the Programme Director for Green Taxonomy work at the Green Finance Institute, with a focus on advising the UK Government on implementing a UK Green Taxonomy – a common framework setting the bar for investments that can be defined as environmentally sustainable – through his team which is the secretariat to the Green Technical Advisory Group (GTAG).
Sandie is an associate at the Green Finance Institute, with focus on advising Defra on defining environmental economic activities in a UK Green Taxonomy – through our team which is secretariat to the Land use, Nature and Adapted Systems (LNAS) Advisory Group. A sub-group of the Green Technical Advisory Group (GTAG).

Sustainable Aquaculture – an investor’s perspective – Alice Millest, Finance Earth

Alice is and Investment Director at Finance Earth and has worked in the impact investing sector since 2014. She has experience advising funds and foundations on their investment activity as well as direct support of enterprises and charities on business development and investment raising.

This session was chaired by Nicki Holmyard. Nicki  is a specialist freelance writer, focussing on the seafood industry from sea to plate and everything in between. She has a particular interest in aquaculture, sustainable supply chains, and the effects of climate change on global seafood production. She has contributed to several books on sustainable seafood sourcing and the effects of climate change on the oceans, and acts as a communications consultant for leading fishing and aquaculture concerns. Nicki is also heavily involved in her family business, Offshore Shellfish Ltd, which farms mussels offshore in Lyme Bay.

Regenerative Ocean Farming – Mollie Gupta, Worldwide Fund for Nature

Link to presentation.

WWF UK’s Seaweed Solutions programme, led by Mollie Gupta, is working to support regenerative seaweed farming around UK coasts. In previous roles Mollie has worked on addressing the UK’s overseas commodity footprint with focus on soy and palm oil, and has supported WWF research looking into the scale up of innovations in feed.

Ecological Interactions of an Offshore, Longline Mussel Farm and its Marine Conservation Potential as a de facto MPA – Llucia Mascorda Cabre, University of Plymouth

Link to presentation.

Lucia is a Postdoctoral researcher with the aMER Unit undertaking research on the impacts of aquaculture and MPAs. Her PhD project assessed the overall footprint of an offshore longline mussel farm in its surrounding environment, in Lyme Bay, UK. She currently works as a PostDoc on the Defra funded FISP project Ropes to Reefs. Ropes to Reefs is a fisher, farmer, scientist collaboration to evidence fish stock and habitat benefits of Offshore Aquaculture to inform future management and policy. The project aims to assess the ecosystem services and benefits of aquaculture, assess the restoration of essential fish habitat (EFH), biodiversity and associated healthy fish stocks (biomass) in Lyme Bay which includes an offshore mussel farm, a scallop ranch, a seaweed farm an a Marine Protected Area.

Biodiversity monitoring at seaweed farms – Sophie Corrigan, University of Exeter & Marine Biological Association

Link to presentation.

Sophie has spent the past four years working with farmers in the Southwest to investigate the environmental impacts of seaweed farming in the UK for her PhD. Sophie’s work has investigated how seaweed farms affect biodiversity in coastal areas ranging from plankton to fish populations of commercial and conservation importance. In this talk, Sophie will present some of the recent findings from her PhD, and discuss the need to develop best practices for monitoring biodiversity at seaweed farms around the UK to inform biodiversity net gain targets and sustainable ecosystem approaches to aquaculture.

Farmed oysters: ecosystem engineers that provide food and flood protection – Michael Steinke, University of Essex

Link to presentation.

Michael is a marine biologist working with a group of people that aim to improve the lives of oyster fishermen and people living in coastal communities. Their research addresses the ecological enhancement and environmental gain from bivalve aquaculture. Their work suggests that aquaculture species may provide a nature-based solution to protect coastlines from the effects of future sea-level rise. Specifically, they are exploring the utility of the reef-building Pacific oyster (Magallana gigas) as a foundation species to create living reefs for the protection of eroding coastlines along the coast of East Anglia. Similar initiatives in the USA have been successful and they wish to explore this by conducting field trials in the UK.

How we can increase the climate change mitigation benefits of seaweed – Rod Fujita, Environmental Defence Fund

Link to presentation.

Rod Fujita is a marine ecologist and director of ocean research for the Environmental Defense Fund, a non-profit environmental organization, with expertise in seaweed, aquaculture, and fisheries.  Rod has helped fisheries around the world improve yields, enhance livelihoods, protect ocean biodiversity, and become more resilient to climate change over his 38 year career.  He is currently working to optimize seaweed farming for climate change mitigation.

This session was chaired by Nicki Holmyard. Nicki  is a specialist freelance writer, focusing on the seafood industry from sea to plate and everything in between. She has a particular interest in aquaculture, sustainable supply chains, and the effects of climate change on global seafood production. She has contributed to several books on sustainable seafood sourcing and the effects of climate change on the oceans, and acts as a communications consultant for leading fishing and aquaculture concerns. Nicki is also heavily involved in her family business, Offshore Shellfish Ltd, which farms mussels offshore in Lyme Bay.

Can mussels save the planet? Innovation for novel low carbon, healthy food ingredients – Lewis Le Vay, Bangor University

Link to presentation here.

Lewis Le Vay is a marine scientist with 35 years experience in a wide range of sectors from aquaculture, fisheries, renewable energy to environment and human health. As director of the Centre for Applied Marine Sciences at Bangor University he leads a research centre delivering a wide range of multi-disciplinary projects with a broad focus on sustainable marine resources.  Building on this, in 2018, established the Shellfish Centre, which is focused on collaborative research and innovation supporting development of low-trophic aquaculture.

Low trophic marine ingredients – Emily McGregor, MarinTrust

Link to presentation.

Emily McGregor is the Fisheries Manager at MarinTrust, the global certification programme for marine ingredient production factories. With a strong background in the industry, Emily previously worked with the Marine Stewardship Council, where her focus was on implementing and revising the MSC’s Fisheries Standard. Emily’s passion for sustainability and innovation led her to lead the sustainability efforts of an international aquaculture company, where she developed a keen interest in improving aquaculture feed systems. With a PhD from the University of Cape Town, her research applied the principles of ecosystem-based fisheries management to support sustainable practices in South Africa’s small pelagics fisheries. Emily’s approach to her fisheries career is centred around people, recognizing that collective action and certification are vital tools to drive positive change and preserve the health of our oceans.

ICrystal Clear – Mike Berthet, Global Seafood Alliance, North Atlantic Seafood Forum & Seafish

Link to presentation.

A qualified Chef who has over 40 years of experience in Fish and Seafood, Mike has recently retired from a successful career with the leading UK food service company M&J Seafood part of Brake/Sysco USA Group. Focused on sustainability issues to ensure the company’s passion and commitment to responsible sourcing was maintained. Mike has been working with the Industry, Governments, NGO’s and Fishermen to identify the drivers for consistent advancement of safe sustainable fishing and responsibly grown aquaculture. He is currently Deputy Chair of the Seafish Supply Chain & Consumer Sector Panel. Well known in the World Seafood Arena, Mike is dedicated to ensuring responsible aquaculture is available for current and future generations in line with the UN Commitment to increase the availability of healthy, nutritious responsibly farmed Seafood while supporting their Sustainable Development Goals -SDG’s. Mike represents the Global Seafood Alliance in EMEA presenting its Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard, Seaweed Certification and Aquaculture standards throughout the supply chain.

OCEANIUM: maximising the value and versatility of seaweed – Jessica Thorne, Oceanium

Link to presentation.

Jessica joined OCEANIUM permanently in 2021 after working with the impact-led start-up through On Purpose, an impact leadership development programme. Previously Jessica had a career at the London Stock Exchange Group in international markets strategy and policy, and also worked for the UK Government in China and Voluntary Service Overseas in Kenya.

Can Payments for Ecosystem Services encourage shellfish industry growth? – Anton Immink, ThinkAqua

Link to presentation.

Anton Immink has 30 years’ experience of aquaculture sector development across Asia, Africa and Europe. He has worked with international organisations, governments, major seafood buyers and supply chain companies, but Anton is most passionate about the long-term involvement of smallholder farmers in value chains. He wants to find solutions for farmers and regulators to address the many challenges that aquaculture continues to face as the sector grows. Anton is CEO of ThinkAqua, an NGO that works with partners around the world to embrace these opportunities.

Payment for Ecosystem Services – Bivalves – Konstancja Woźniacka & Suzanne Bricker, Seafish/NOAA

Link to presentation.

Konstancja’s primary focus at Seafish is on studying the ecosystem services provided by UK bivalves. Simultaneously, she is pursuing a PhD related to aquaculture. In both roles, she focuses on data analysis, modelling, and spatio-temporal assessments.
Dr. Suzanne Bricker has worked for 30+ years evaluating impacts of and developing solutions to address eutrophication in coastal waters, globally. Her collaborators include national and international modelers, economists, the aquaculture industry, academic researchers, and federal, state, and local environmental managers. Her and colleagues’ research on nutrient removal ecosystem services provided by bivalve shellfish (oysters, clams) has informed marine policy on spatial planning and development and application of successful innovative nutrient management measures.

This session was chaired by Melanie Siggs. Melanie has worked in global strategic roles for both commercial and NGO organisations specialising in fisheries and aquaculture over the past 16 years. She is a Director of the Global Seafood Alliance, Vice President of The Centre for Responsible Seafood and an Advisor to the World Economic Forum’s Ocean Program ‘Friends of Ocean Action’.  Melanie is a former Special Adviser to HRH The Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit. She is an Honorary Professor of the Heriot Watt University, Scotland, and holds an MSc in Responsibility & Business Practice (Bath).

Ropes to Reefs – a partnership to promote sustainable aquaculture that delivers ecosystem and fisheries benefits – Emma Sheehan, University of Plymouth

Link to presentation.

Dr Emma Sheehan is an Associate Professor of Marine Ecology at the University of Plymouth where she leads the Marine Conservation Research Group and the applied Marine Ecosystems Research unit, and is a chair for the ICES working group on Marine Protected Areas MPAs and other spatially managed areas. Her strategic research focuses on three key areas of ecosystem-based research: (1) MPAs (2) Marine Renewable Energy and (3) Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture. She uses remote video techniques and acoustic telemetry to enumerate marine assemblages and their distribution over large temporal and spatial scales.

Experiences from nature enhancement projects in Offshore Wind Farms – Eline van Onselen, De Rijke Noordzee

Link to presentation.

Eline van Onselen is a marine ecologist currently working on The Rich North Sea programme. She is part of the pilot projects in offshore wind farms (OWFs), to learn about nature enhancement and test methods and theories for upscaling. Her work includes both desk studies and practical work, as well as talking about the work on conferences and other events. She also leads the work on the Toolbox, the website made for knowledge sharing within and outside of OWFs.

Structural Solutions to Unlocking the UK’s Aquaculture Potential -Rob Passmore, Additive.Earth

Link to presentation.

As CEO and Co-founder of, Rob spearheads ventures targeting climate change and biodiversity. Their flagship project, Additive Catchments, raised £1.25 million and collaborated with Siemens and AtkinsRealis on a digital twin for river health monitoring. Commissioned by The Crown Estate, Additive is devising an Aquaculture Enterprise Zone strategy and advancing a seaweed biorefinery strategy with Siemens, the University of York, Finisterre Clothing, and Notpla. Rob’s background includes green finance and nature-based solutions with a UNESCO Biosphere Foundation after starting his career at Saatchi & Saatchi.

An expert panel discussion dissected the present scenario, challenges, and avenues for collaboration in the UK’s aquaculture landscape. Session 5’s speakers will be joined by:

John Holmyard, Offshore Shellfish mussel farm

John Holmyard, founder and MD of Offshore Shellfish Ltd has been farming mussels for 34 years. With his current farm in Lyme Bay, John has broken the mould, by pioneered methods that enable mussel farming to move out of crowded inshore waters into an offshore setting. The family-run offshore farm produces several thousand tonnes of rope grown mussels per year. These mussels remove excess carbon, phosphates and nitrates from the seawater, while the farm structure itself, acts as giant floating reef. The result is an increase in local marine biodiversity, and a protected habitat, nursery ground, food and shelter for many commercial fish and shellfish species.

Oliver Hicks, Algapeligo seaweed farm

Olly has a working background in marine expeditions, renewable power development and offshore wind services.  He co-founded algapelago which designs and operates offshore mariculuture farms and uses biotechnology to convert the biomass into useful products, such a kelp into feed and fertiliser with several other products in development.

Martin Sutcliffe, Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock

CIEL is one of the UK’s Agri-tech centres and has a member network that spans the supply chain. In May 2022, the Centre added Aquaculture to its remit. Martin leads on this work. With a background in marine biology, RAS and animal health, he is passionate about developing sustainable aquaculture across the UK.

Jon Parker, Food Farming and Countryside Commission

Jon is Director for Wales with the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, a UK wide charity with a focus on supporting a fair transition in the food system in response to the challenges of health, climate and nature. Jon has worked extensively across the inshore fisheries and aquaculture sector in Wales supporting the development of small scale processing, shellfish and RAS aquaculture and private research capabilities. Jon provides advocacy for the members of Aquaculture Industry Wales to Government and other stakeholders.

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