Blue Economy event showcases innovative technologies for sustainable aquaculture practices in the Mediterranean

UNIDO presents eco-innovative technologies to address challenges of aquaculture in Tunisia, including excessive fish feed use, pollution, and high costs.

Published on Thursday 14 December 2023· INDUSTRY AND SERVICE PROVIDERS

On 5 December, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) organized a business-to-business event (B2B) to present and bridge eco-innovative technology applications that can improve aquaculture farms’ environmental and economic performance in Tunisia. 

During the B2B event, over 90 participants were engaged, including twelve technology providers from Denmark, France, Greece, Norway, Spain and Tunisia. Over 80% of Tunisian aquafarms participated in the event, including representatives of the National Industry Federation and institutions such as the National Agency for Environmental Protection, Export Promotion Agency, and Regional Offices of the Ministry of Agriculture. 

During the plenary session, the Director General, Ali Cheikh Sboui of the Direction Générale de la Pêche et de l’Aquaculture (DGPA) shared his vision for the aquaculture industry in Tunisia by 2030. He highlighted climate change-related challenges for the region and stated that “The Ministry is very grateful to the SwitchMed Blue Economy initiative. We invite all professionals in the aquaculture industry to adopt SMART technologies to stimulate the development of sustainable and climate change-resilient practices.” 

Over 100 bilateral meetings between Tunisian aquafarm professionals and technology providers took place during the B2B event. During these meetings, potential business relationships and the specific needs and solutions of each party involved were explored. The Italian Cooperation Agency and the Agricultural Investment Promotion Agency also presented financial mechanisms specifically designed to encourage private sector investments in sustainable technologies in the aquaculture sector. 

The event was held as part of the EU-funded SwitchMed Programme Blue Economy project, which, under the lead of UNIDO, aims to support the uptake of more sustainable practices along the Tunisian aquaculture value chain. By integrating first-of-a-kind technologies to Tunisia, the UNIDO pilot project currently demonstrates the application of selected technologies, such as artificial intelligence and digital tools, within an aquaculture facility in the Monastir Bay area that can improve operational performance in the industrial context of Tunisia’s marine aquaculture. 

One major contributor to environmental pollution and high costs in global aquaculture is the excessive use of fish feed, which is also an issue in Tunisia. A value chain mapping, issued in 2020-2021 by UNIDO, revealed that the Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) of aquacultures in Tunisia, ranging between 2 to 2.5, exceeds international benchmarks of around 1.6. This can have a direct impact on the environment, the competitiveness of aquacultures and can jeopardize this important sector of Tunisia’s economy. 

INNOVASEA, one of the 12 technologies presented at the B2B event, provides aquaculture operators with a real-time monitoring solution of their fish stock and can reduce the FCR by 5-10%. Diogo Thomaz, General Manager & VP of Aquaculture Software of INNOVASEA, expressed enthusiasm, stating, “I have been in the aquaculture sector for 25 years, and this is the first-of-a-kind event that I have ever seen—a remarkable opportunity to connect with the Tunisian aquaculture business community.” 

Until 2024, UNIDO will, together with the National Institute of Marine Science and Technologies (INSTM), and a consortium of national and international experts led by AquaBioTech Group, investigate the applicability of eco-innovative technologies and solutions that can improve efficiency and the environmental performance of Tunisia’s aquaculture sector. 

More information about the pilot project here and access to the digital version of the SMART technologies catalogue in French and in English.  

"We invite all professionals in the aquaculture industry to adopt SMART technologies to stimulate the development of sustainable and climate change-resilient practices."

Ali Cheikh Sboui, Director General, Direction Générale de la Pêche et de l'Aquaculture (DGPA)