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3 questions to Silvia Fluch from ecoduna AG/eparella GmbH

Published on: Tue, 25/09/2018 - 19:26
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    With our "3 questions to" series, we ask business stakeholders their views of the Blue Bioeconomy sector. This month, Silvia Fluch from ecoduna AG/eparella GmbH tells us about sustainability, finding your market, and how to have impact.


    ©Silvia Fluch



    With our "3 questions to" series, we ask business stakeholders their views of the Blue Bioeconomy sector. This month, Silvia Fluch from ecoduna AG/eparella GmbH tells us about sustainability, finding your market, and how to have impact.




    What does the Blue Bioeconomy mean to you (your organisation or personally)?

    Providing alternatives: Our current economy is focusing on maximising of income very often based on the heavy exploitation of the environment. The Anthropocene is mostly characterised by a system where market, customer demands and nature are decoupled, and players are no longer paying respect to the needs of the system. Especially the marine ecosystem has been suffering over-exploitation for a long time. Once damaged recovery of an ecosystem as big and complex as the oceans will take many years.

    Thus, new developments in the area of the blue economy must pay attention to the already vulnerable ecosystem and should only be implemented after thorough impact analyses. Wherever possible alternative solutions or combinations land/sea have to be strived for.

    Microalgae for example offer great opportunities as alternative production systems for various compounds like proteins, carbohydrates or omega3 fatty acids. Closed cycle production systems in a semi natural aquatic food chain where land and sea production systems are being integrated, offer an, also economically, attractive alternative to overexploitation of the marine ecosystem.

    What are the greatest challenges facing your organisation in regard to the blue bioeconomy at the moment?

    The aquaculture sector already realised that the potential of microalgae is enormous. They could serve as fish feed and fish feed additives providing high-level valuable nutrition components for aquaculture. Studies prove that microalgae in fish feed lead to better growth and healthier fish for the producers as well as for the customers.

    But as the fish food market is based on very cheap protein sources, microalgae have not found their way into this market yet. The gap between production cost of agriculturally produced protein and the technologically new and demanding microalgae is currently too big for algae entering the marine feed sector. Therefore, even when growing 10 times faster than any land plant, algae currently need to be sold in markets which offer better margins.

    Paradigm change is needed in the blue bioeconomy where land plants are used for human nutrition and fish are fed by the type-specific feed. Increasing productivity as well as lowering cost of algae production technology needs to be jointly pursued by research and industry, so that larger areas can be used for CO2 capture, water cleaning and algae production in integrated systems. A more open regulatory framework is needed when we want to rescue our oceans by the use of novel and sustainable feed sources.

    What are the trends that we should look out for in the blue bioeconomy? And what impacts do they have on what you’re doing now or in the future?

    Future development should not forget about the big picture when focusing on novel developments based on marine resources. Think out of the box – new products have to be developed in a holistic approach - land&sea has to be seen as one interconnected system. As the sea is strongly influenced by the input from rivers and human activities on land whereas the sea has a strong impact on the climate.

    Gentle use and thorough investigation of impact of new developments is a must. Clean up technologies and recovery approaches will have to be encouraged – already at small scale. For example incentives for fishery industry to help in the ‘ocean’s clean-up process’ (as they are already out there) might have a big impact.

    About myself:

    Silvia Fluch PhD, COO at ecoduna AG/eparella GmbH. Researcher by birth, interested in the big picture as well as in the details of my surroundings. Interdisciplinary topics always caught my attention, systems understanding is a must. Turning ideas into a functional set up is a big challenge in the highly innovative field of microalgae production. We work towards developing a sustainable and cheap production system for micro algae and Omeag3 fatty acids respectively. Our products can help saving the marine ecosystem by providing alternative sources of omega3 and proteins for human nutrition as well as fish feed.

    Do you want to share your experience with us? Have a look here