The world populations will increase to more than 9 billion by 2050, and the food production will be a limiting factor. It is restricted opportunities to increase food production both from land and from traditional fisheries. In this connection, cultivation and harvesting of organisms from lower trophic levels will be important. A sustainable growth in marine aquaculture requires a change from its current dependence on fisheries and agriculture for raw materials to feed production, and closing the production cycles to minimize the environmental impacts. The report "Value creation based on productive oceans in 2050" forecast a 6-fold increase of the annual turnover in the Norwegian aquaculture industry by 2050, with increased production of fish feed based on cultivation and harvesting of organisms from lower trophic levels such as zooplankton. In addition, both microalgae and macroalgae cultivation was regarded as significant possibilities for value added production.
Norway, with the second longest coastline in Europe, comprehensive knowledge in marine sciences and strong experience with business innovation within marine industries, should take a leading role in the forecasted increase of marine production. New technology and cultivation methods have to be developed to obtain predictable and cost effective production/harvesting and processing. Marine biomasses from lower trophic level can be utilize as food, feed, special chemicals and energy. Norwegian Centre for plankton technology is a national infrastructure that will develop new methods and new technology for harvesting, cultivation and processing organisms from lower trophic level from the sea. The Centre will be open for students, scientists and industry to conduct research on different plankton organisms. The Centre will contribute to develop new industry in marine biomass production that meets the future of climate and environmental challenges.
Increased harvesting and/or production of new marine bioresouces is regarded as one of the essential solutions to meet the demands for food, energy and feedstock for the growing global population. Norway, with the second longest coastline in Europe, comprehensive knowledge in marine sciences and strong experience with business innovation within marine industries, should take a leading role in the forecasted increase of marine production. In this connection, cultivation and harvesting of organisms from lower trophic levels such as microalgae, macroalgae and zooplankton, is key factors for future profitable aquaculture industry.
However, in order to reach these aims, it will be necessary to invest significant resources in research and education that ensure access for highly competent personnel and state of the art research facilities. SINTEF and NTNU intend to establish a national centre for cultivation and harvest of marine plankton organisms (PLANKTONLAB) that consist of novel technology, sophisticated cultivation methods, process control and mechanization/ automation. This research infrastructure will be made available for education, academia and industry for performing research activities within this field.
The NTNU/SINTEF Gemini Centre for Marine Plankton Technology and Ecology is the basis for this research infrastructure. SINTEF Fisheries and aquaculture is the host for the PLANKTONLAB and NTNU Department of Biology is partner. The PLANKTONLAB research infrastructure will consist of 6 nodes: Microalgae cultivation platform, Macroalgae seedling production, Zooplankton culture, Process control in fish larvae culture, Biomass estimation and harvest of plankton stocks, and Processing of plankton biomass.