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Large-scale piloting and market maturation of a novel process for sustainable European lobster aqua- and mariculture

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - SELAM (Large-scale piloting and market maturation of a novel process for sustainable European lobster aqua- and mariculture)

Reporting period: 2017-10-01 to 2018-09-30

The SELAM project allows to further develop our hatchery technology and improve the ocean ranching, and to enable a commercial realization.
The vision of the SELAM project is to demonstrate and commercialize our innovative production process for European lobster (Homarus gammarus) aqua- and mariculture, based on our novel business model for shellfish sea ranching. The SELAM process combines land-based aquaculture of hatched eggs through the first larval molt stages (1st- 3rd stage) and juvenile stages (4th -5th stage) before release into a sea-ranching area growing for 5 years without human interference and at no cost.

The SELAM business model is based on the unique Norwegian sea ranching law where exclusive geographical concessions are given for release-and-harvest on the seabed, i.e. by lobster pots, while traditional line and floating-net fishing remains open to fisheries.

Through years as producer of juvenile lobsters, we have established optimal production parameters (e.g. feed, light, temperature and water quality). We have previously coordinated the FP7 R4SME project Lobster Plant, in which we developed a number of sub-system prototypes for automated functions, and have since collaborated with leading Norwegian RTOs to bring the prototypes to TRL7. The overall technical aim of the SELAM project is therefore to adapt these and bring them together in a single production system followed by demonstration in a real-life piloting production line thus bringing technologies from the current TRL7 to TRL9. The system will consist of Automated Incubation System (AIS), covering the land-based aquaculture phase, the Automated Release System (ARS), covering the ocean release phase and functions shared by the two systems.
The main component development in the AIS is a counting machine for counting the lobster larvae in production. We will develop a new version of the deploy pod used to transfer lobster juveniles from the hatchery to the ocean floor, ensuring highest possible survival in the ocean ranching area.

Another aim of the SELAM project is to commercialize our process and automated AIS/ARS to enter the profitable EU, and East-Asian markets for sustainable, high-quality European lobster. We conducted in-depth interviews with 10 major shellfish distributors, covering our target markets, to determine market needs, opportunities and commercialization potential of the SELAM lobster product. We now seek to develop our Commercialization Plan (CP), an important part of the final Business Innovation Plan (BIP), to be created in this Phase II project. As our project builds upon validated sub-system prototypes, our efforts focus on Commercialization Innovation Activities (CIAs), including key market maturation activities ensuring rapid market uptake in target markets.

SELAM is addressing the global market for European lobster, with a volume in 2013 of 147K tons (€1.56bn) of which only 4.6K tons were European lobster (3%). The rest being the less valued American lobster.
CIA 1 Technology maturation (WP1)
Objective to elevate our SELAM process and associated sub-system prototypes from current TRL7 to TRL8 based on the input from the NEPHROPS FP7( project and post-project developments. Analysis of our existing process design, components and operational parameters has been made to update it to reflect technological or practical advances since proposal submission, e.g. availability of more advanced components. From this, we have defined first the key integration specification and commence software development of the central automation platform, the AIS and ARS and shared functions based on the Scorpion platform (provided by Tordivel AS). We have conducted the initial hardware adaptations of the components in line with the integration specifications. Software and hardware have been put together through basic tests of communication and functionality. We have adapted existing manual transfer pod for use in the ARS. The hardware dimensions and opening/closing mechanisms are adjusted and are in line with the overall automation specifications.

CIA 2 Large-scale real environment piloting (WP2)
Objective to demonstrate the commercial potential of the SELAM automated production system (AIS, ARS) and process in real, operating production conditions. Will be completed during the 2019 hatchery season.

CIA 3 Supply chain development (WP3)
Objective to establish the up/down-stream supply chain to meet market demand and expected revenue deriving from commercialization of the SELAM process. We have performed stakeholder analysis to adapt to and engage the evolving needs of stakeholders; upstream suppliers, subcontractors, distributors, shipping partners, ocean fisheries and coastal communities near existing and prospective sea ranching sites, investors/collaborators, regulatory bodies, EU/national-level policy makers.

CIA 4 Market and regulatory surveillance (WP4)
Objective to monitor and analyse markets and our competitors solutions, securing post-project funding, monitoring standards/ regulations. We are negotiating with ME investor to participate after completion of the SELAM process.
We have updated our research in the target markets (Europe, E Asia), establishing market strategies to the specific economic, structural/ regulatory conditions of each market, and carried out market analytics to identify/monitor potential market entry barriers and how to overcome barriers and mitigate risks, and we have monitored the competitor analysis to identify emerging contenders.
We have reviewed standards/regulations/legislation, which can hamper or aid our commercialization strategy.
We have studied the South-Korea market and co-operate with the Norwegian Seafood Council. Sea-ranching areas outside Norway have been analyzed and we are preparing expansion plans.

CIA 5 Innovation Mgm and Biz Innovation Plan (WP5)
BIP and CP is established.
Transporting and releasing lobster juveniles from hatchery into the ocean ranching site is a complex task. Suboptimal transport and/or release strategies have the potential to inflict severe mortality numbers to the ranching operation even if quality and robustness of the juveniles are high when shipped from the hatchery, and will have direct impact on the achievable production output. It is therefore a priority to address this phase of the SELAM process. The goal of the transport and release system is to support and protect the lobster juveniles during transfer from the hatchery to the ranching site so that they can be introduced into the natural environment in best possible physiological condition and in a way that promotes survival until they can safely settle in the ranching area.

NHD’s release pod, is small lightweight, low-cost and durable, and dimensioned for a batch of 250 lobster juveniles. It is easy to build and has a rough construction, can be reused many times and it is easy to handle manually from a small boat. The key advantage of the pod relates to its ability to promote survival of the lobster juveniles during the critical release operation by providing protection against predation and physical stress while the animals adapt to their new environment.

Political process is initiated for a 5 year enhancement program for increasing lobster population along the Norwegian coast line. Initial very positive feedback from the Norwegian Parliament Committee for Business and Industry.