A pilot to the ARC ran in 2014 with 20 schools in 10 EU member states: Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland Italy, Poland Spain and the United Kingdom. It was called the “Farmed in the EU” school project. In Ireland this consisted of a visit by Mulroy College in Donegal to the hatchery and smolt unit of Marine Harvest in May 2015. Based on visits like this, a project kit was designed assist in the planning and running of the project and potential follow up activities which focused around Nutrition & Cooking, Science & Technology, or Communication and Arts.
Key objectives of the pilot were:
- Active participation
- Debating skills
- Evaluating information
- Strengthening independent research
Where did the Aquaculture Remote Classroom (ARC) come from?
Farmed in the EU has been designed to raise your student’s awareness of aquaculture. The diverse nature of aquaculture means there is plenty to learn and talk about. The Farmed in the EU school project is part of the European Commission’s Inseparable initiative, that aims to highlight the benefits of eating buying and selling sustainable seafood. The European Union is committed to supporting aquaculture as the industry can produce fresh sustainable seafood, create employment and spark innovations.
- Aquaculture is the fastest growing area of food production for the last 15-20 years. Aquaculture production is predicted to reach 85 million tonnes by 2022 (roughly 6 million double decker buses!).
- Aquaculture is not new. It has been practiced in Europe for many years. Pliny the Elder described fish and oyster farming techniques in Italy in Books VIII to XI on Natural History in AD 79! The earliest form of aquaculture was practiced in 4000 B.C and was trapping wild aquatic animals in small bodies of water, so that the animals would be available year-round. In Ireland, aquaculture as we know it, started much later and was recorded 100, 30 and 25 years ago in the case of oysters, mussels and salmon.
- In 2017 over 47,000 tonnes of seafood worth over €200 million were produced in Ireland. Fish and shellfish are farmed in 14 coastal counties of Ireland. Counties Cork and Donegal were the biggest contributors in terms of weight.
- Fish are effective in converting food into weight for a number of reasons:
- Fish live in water, water supports their weight and so fish don’t need heavy skeletons.
- Fish are cold-blooded and don’t need to burn calories to generate body heat.
- Rather than building heavy skeletons or maintaining their temperature fish can then use the extra energy for growing.
- Shellfish are even more efficient as they don’t even require feeding!. Shellfish filter feed, meaning they sieve or pick plankton out of the surrounding water, once submerged.
- Aquaculture can and must be managed sustainably and responsibly. Sustainability is the term given to the use of resources in the present day, while allowing for future generations' use of the same resources.
Did you know?
- Aquaculture is the most resource efficient ways to produce protein. Farmed seafood generally converts more of the food it consumes into body mass i.e. protein for us to eat.
- Over an 18 month period, salmon swim an equivalent of 13,000kms before reaching market size which is comparable to the distance travelled in their natural habitat.
- Oyster cultivation is one of the most environmentally friendly types of farming, requiring no feeding processes and having a low carbon footprint.
- Salmon are cold blooded species; their body temperature is the same as that of the environment. They do not expend energy keeping warm, unlike us.
- One in five persons globally rely on fish as their primary source of protein.
Fish is one of nature’s healthiest foods and is an important part of a healthy, balanced diet for people of all ages. It is naturally low in saturated fat and calories. It is also full of vitamins and minerals, and oil rich fish is an excellent source of omega 3 fats.
Why do we eat fish?
Fish is considered as one of nature’s healthiest foods. All fish are a good source of protein. Protein contributes to the maintenance of muscle growth. Oily fish are sources of omega 3 fats, vitamins A and D and some B vitamins. Omega 3 fats are important for normal brain function. Vitamin A and D are important for normal eye health and maintenance of normal bones, respectively. White fish and shellfish are all naturally low in in fat making them an ideal source of protein for anyone trying to manage their weight. Almost all fish contain vitamin B12 which has benefits ranging from keeping blood healthy to helping reduce tiredness and fatigue.
Shellfish particularly mussels and oysters are excellent sources the minerals Iodine, Iron, Zinc and selenium. Interestingly, fish contain more Iodine than any other food in a normal diet and mussels contain more Iron than beef. Overall, minerals have many important health benefits and play critical roles in a variety of bodily functions. In general, they are play a key role in turning the food we eat into energy for the body. Consuming the recommended intake of 2-3 portions of seafood every week, is just one way of improving your overall health as part of a healthy and balanced diet