26 aug. 2022

Innovative Swedish fish farm and young Colombian coral researcher show that sustainable aquaculture is scalable – awarded the WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award & WIN WIN Youth Award 2022

The 2022 winners of the WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award and the WIN WIN Youth Award are now offical. The prestigious awards are given to Swedish fish farm Gårdsfisk and to researcher Sara Gutierrez Plata of the Fisheries Institute in Mexico respectively. The prize sum totaling over SEK 1 million will be presented at the WIN WIN Award gala in Gothenburg, Sweden on October 21st.

This year, the world's leading sustainability award, the WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award, recognizes individuals and organizations working for sustainable aquaculture – a pivotal part in solving the problem of global nutrition in the future. The winners of this year's WIN WIN Award and WIN WIN Youth Award, with a total prize sum of over SEK 1,000,000 are Swedish fish farming company Gårdsfisk and aquaculture researcher Sara Gutierrez Plata from Colombia respectively.

Global food production currently accounts for about 25 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. It is the main cause of loss of biodiversity, deforestation and endangered fish stocks. The UN predicts that global food production needs to increase by 70 percent by 2050. In addition, rising incomes and changing eating habits will lead to greater demand for nutritious food. Aquaculture, i.e. the cultivation of aquatic animals and plants such as fish, mussels, crustaceans and algae, is, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations essential to meet the nutritional needs of the world's rapidly growing population. Aquaculture is already growing rapidly and an estimated three billion people get at least 20 percent of their necessary nutrients from seafood today, which generally has great both health- and environmental benefits.

"On the journey toward giving everyone access to nutritious food within the planet's boundaries, we westerners need to change our eating habits. For example, we must find alternatives to the rapidly growing salmon industry that today uses open crates in the sea. Gårdsfisk shows a tangible opportunity for change by farming fish in new ways, with low environmental impact in land-based circular systems," says Emma Dalväg, jury chair of the WIN WIN Award.

"But aquaculture is also about repairing and mitigating the harmful effects that human behavior has on nature," says Ahmed Al-Qassam, jury chair of the WIN WIN Youth Award. "The traditional view on sustainable aquaculture focuses solely on humanity's consumption of cultivated aquatic species and on dampening its consequences. Through her work, Sara Gutierrez Plata shows that the environmental aspects are equally pivotal."

From the jury’s motivation: WIN WIN Award/ Gårdsfisk

Swedish enterprise Gårdsfisk conducts integrated aquaculture by farming fish in closed systems on land with the vision of producing the world's most sustainable fish. Gårdsfisk works with the value chain in its entirety, from breeding, farming and processing fish into attractive consumer products. By breeding tropical omnivorous fish that can utilise more plant-based ingredients in their feed, fast-growing animals can be bred with low environmental impacts. The fish farmed by Gårdsfisk are robust and are used to living together in close proximity.

Through Gårdsfisk’s constant work to optimize their value chain, the company excels in three areas above all: implementation of excess nutrients from fish droppings into agriculture, production of sustainable feeds, and improvement of fish welfare. The breeding of resource efficient species in recirculating systems is an important step toward a more sustainable food system. Gårdsfisk’s persistent efforts to introduce new products to the market pave the way for the industry at large.

The WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award 2022 is awarded to Gårdsfisk, who tangibly and concretely lead the way forward.

From the jury’s motivation: WIN WIN Youth Award/ Sara Gutierrez Plata

The Colombian researcher Sara Gutierrez Plata is deeply engaged in restoring the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, damaged by climate-change induced high water temperatures as well as acidity and overfishing. Coral reefs are vital for coastal protection and for aquatic biodiversity. In a project supported by the “Healthy Reefs for Healthy People”, Sara Gutierrez Plata use sustainable aquaculture as she developed methods for small-scale, low intensity restocking of the Caribbean King Crab. Having managed to farm the crab, it can now be used to graze detrimental algae covering damaged reefs. When well established, the Caribbean King Crab may also generate substantial income to local fishermen. In addition, Sara and her team aid coral reef recovery by implanting healthy segments of corals into damaged areas.

The WIN WIN Youth Award 2022 is awarded to Sara Gutierrez Plata for highlighting how aquaculture must also be regarded – as a way to repair and soften the detrimental effects human behaviour has on nature.”

Aquaculture in Sweden and globally*

Aquaculture is a rapidly growing global food branch that supplies the world's population with about half of the fish, shellfish and algae consumed globally. But in Sweden, the industry is still small. On the west coast, the cultivation of blue mussels and oysters occurs on a small scale. On the east coast and in Swedish lakes, rainbow trout and char are grown in limited quantities. Total aquaculture production in Sweden in 2012 was almost 15,000 tonnes (12,500 tonnes of food fish, 1,000 tonnes of way fish and just over 1,300 tonnes of blue mussels).

  • Of the farmed fish we eat in Sweden, more than 90 percent is imported.

  • In Sweden, we mostly grow rainbow trout and char as food fish.

  • In 2017, Sweden’s population ate almost 35,000 tonnes of farmed Norwegian salmon.

  • Blue mussels account for most of Europe's aquaculture production, around 40%.

  • One blue mussel filters almost 10 liters of water per hour.

  • 1 ton of cultivated seaweed absorbs between 10 - 30 kg of nitrogen from the sea, and more the closer they are to a fish farm.

  • China is world leading when it comes to fish farming. In 2014, China farmed 45 million tons of fish, compared to Norway which farmed 1.4 million tons of salmon.

  • 37 different species of macroalgae are grown in 50 countries.

  • Globally, more than 20 kg of fish and shellfish are eaten per person per year, in Sweden that figure is about 12 kg.

  • 362 species of fish and 104 species of mussels and gastropods have been farmed or farmed in the world.

  • Carp fish are the fish species most widely farmed in the world.

*Source: The Univeristy of Gothenburg/ SWEMARC

The WIN WIN Award and the WIN WIN Youth Award are presented at the annual WIN WIN Award Ceremony that takes place on October 21st, 2022 at Auktionsverket Kulturarena in Gothenburg Sweden. The awards will be presented by Swedish star chef Monika Ahlberg, one of the contenders in the 2022 WIN WIN Award digital aquaculture chef duel Catch of The Week (June 10-August 25).

Since 2000, the WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award has recognized outstanding achievements all over the world for the benefit of people, the planet and our common future. This year's winners of the WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award and the WIN WIN Youth Award will be announced on August 26 and the prizes will be awarded at the WIN WIN Award gala on October 21. Within this year's theme, the WIN WIN Award collaborates the Swedish Mariculture Research Center, SWEMARC at the University of Gothenburg.

Press contact:

Lovisa Ralpher

Project and Communications Manager

WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award