Ramboll supports sustainable fish farm project in Swedish town

21 February 2018 Consultancy.eu 4 min. read

To support sustainable food production in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Ramboll has teamed up with a small Swedish town to develop a sustainable fish rearing system. The project, if successful, could play a part in the global shift towards more sustainable food production in the face of an increasingly stark reality.

Demand for fish is set to rise significantly in the coming decades, as a growing group of people enter the middle-class, in particular in emerging economies. Yet the fishing market is already overstressed according to many, with various reports suggesting that overfishing remains a key risk, while fishing in addition is seeing its strain on the ecological footprint grow as more efforts are needed to fish in underfished areas. Shifting to more sustainable methods of fish-farming, while reducing excessive intake and more equitable distribution, are regarded as key levers to transition the market into a more balanced state.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aim to create a more sustainable economic model, with various focuses aimed at reducing or substituting consumption, factoring externalities into economics and sustainable development, among others. The goals have created a background against which projects can be assessed and judged, with several parties increasingly looking to bridge the gap between financing for projects and the projects themselves.Ramboll supports sustainable fish farm project in LjusdalOne project that aims to boost sustainable fishing is being conducted in Ljusdal, a small town in the centre of Sweden (around three hours’ drive from Stockholm Airport). With support of its municipality board, through its Närljus foundation, and sustainability and environmental consultancy Ramboll as a business partner, the town has allocated around six-acres for a sustainable fishing programme. According to Malcolm Sjödahl, Head of Business Development at Ramboll in Sweden, the new farm aims to test a “closed loop system”, in which “vegetables and fish nurture each other”. The project, he continued, will be the “first time Sweden has a sustainable food production of that size.”

The project’s aquaponic facility enables the waste generated by the fish to be used as a fertilizer for the tomatoes, which in turn get their food by-products from both vegetable and fish farming. “Nothing gets lost, and nutrients are used in an optimal way to grow food that can be sold locally,” said Sjödahl. The output as it stands: around 1,000 tonnes of fish and 8,000 tonnes of tomatoes a year.

The project, which is part of Ljusdal's 'Sustainable Food 2.0' programme, has been in the works since 2016, with the partners about to enter the first phase, generating around 20-30 new jobs as part of what could become a sustainable success. Sjödahl added; “We have studied a number of municipalities and Ljusdal has very good potential and high competitiveness for these type of facilities. In Ljusdal there is the drive to do this, and other important factors such as available land, water, energy and labour make it possible to establish a whole cluster.”

The combination of factors is however not unique to Sweden, with Sjödahl highlighting that the innovative project could be exported to a wealth of places around the Baltic Sea region.

Reflecting on the town’s involvement in the new project, Lasse Molin, Mayor of Ljusdal, said, “There is more land and resources, so ongoing contacts with potential growers will intensify and be further developed. The municipality is very positive to be able to contribute to sustainable development and that new jobs can be created. Moreover, this development is in line with the food strategy adopted by the Swedish Parliament last year.”

Across the Nordics, Ramboll is also involved in other responsible food production projects, such as improving living conditions for the wild in Sweden and supporting commercial fish farms in Denmark.