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Eva Helbæk Tram

Ocean farmers take over the Nordic countries

For more than a decade, Havhøst has built up experience in running blue community gardens and spreading knowledge of regenerative ocean cultivation in Denmark. With more than 1.000 Danish ocean farmers, over 20 established blue community gardens, a school service for maritime teaching and collaborations with institutions throughout Denmark, the ocean farmer wave is spreading to the other Nordic countries with inspiration from the Danish initiative.

Maritime resources can positively impact both climate, food and biodiversity if some of the world´s food production is moved from land to sea.

Today, only 5-6% of the total food production comes from the ocean, and precisely the ocean as an untapped food resource is the reason why Havhøst was established in Denmark in 2013. Today, the movement has spread to ocean farmers and marine enthusiasts across the Nordic region, and they are meeting for the first time in April in Copenhagen to talk about how cultivation of oysters, seaweed, mussels and the like can make a difference.

“It is truly a milestone that we can bring together enthusiasts and ocean farmers from all four Nordic countries to become wiser about how to launch pendants for Havhøst in Sweden, Norway and Finland. In Denmark, we have over the last eight years gained good experiences with cultivation of oysters, mussels and seaweed on many levels,” says Joachim Hjerl, founder of Havhøst.

Sweden on the blue community garden wave – Norway and Finland on their way

Both Sweden, Norway and Finland have been inspired by the Danish initiative, and during 2020 and 2021 the first blue community gardens have risen the North, who are now meeting to become even wiser about the potential of blue community gardens.

This is part of the project “Havhøst in the Nordic countries”, supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers, which aims to uncover the potential for cultivation of regenerative marine resources. Here, they work to uncover and investigate the possibilities at universities in Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Swedish pilot experiment shows potentials and barriers

In Sweden, they have already harvested some experience through the work at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Since 2021, there has been an attempt to set up seaweed lines in a blue community garden, which should uncover the potential for regenerative cultivation.

“In our pilot trial, we mainly focus on how we can meet the food challenges of the future by, for example, growing shellfish at set-up, private facilities or by joint cultivation at sea as part of the municipalities’ blue overall plan. There is a general lack of knowledge about what cultivation in the sea can contribute in terms of positive effects. Here we have used the facility as a demonstration platform for cultivating the ocean,” says Maria Bodin, project manager at Marine Science at the University of Gothenburg and continues:

“We have just dipped our toes into what we can do with cultivating marine resources – the potential is enormous.”

Norway and Finland on their way

Norway is exploring the potential for cultivating edible marine resources through The Ocean Opportunity Lab – a digital platform and hub for innovation and sustainable marine environment that connects the sea actors.

In Finland the interest is high, however, there is a need to examine what grows as they have a lower salt content in the water.

What are ocean gardens, blue community gardens and regenerative cultivation?

  • Fjord gardens, ocean gardens, maritime allotments and blue community gardens – these are some of the many names but collectively, Havhøst call them blue community gardens.
  • Regenerative cultivation covers what you do when you run blue community gardens: Actively cultivating marine resources such as seaweed, mussels or oysters for e.g., to reduce oxygen depletion in the sea while creating biodiversity and producing food.

Source: Havhøst