The €8.2 million OLAMUR project, which aims to help integrate aquaculture production with renewable wind energy, kicked off in Norway last month. Running from January 2023 to December 2026, OLAMUR will engage 25 partners across European industry and research organizations, who will work together to farm kelp and mussels. The Institute of Marine Research (IMR) in Norway is leading the project, whilst EATiP will take responsibility for leading on communication and dissemination activities. “The OLAMUR project is a prime example of the way we have to work to solve the big problems of our time. It is not only an interdisciplinary, international scientific effort, but a lighthouse project which is set to provide specific, sustainable solutions for actual industries – today,” noted Nils Gunnar Kvamstø, director of IMR, during a kick-off meeting hosted in Bergen. “In this case, how can you combine energy production and sustainable food production, while perhaps also providing services to the ecosystem?”
The project will investigate several aspects of this, such as:
- Practical solutions to the challenge of farming in exposed offshore environments.
- Will the kelp/bivalves produced be safe to eat? (For example, concerns have been expressed about microplastics and hydraulic fluid from wind turbines)
- Potential carbon storage and habitat enhancement from farming kelp/bivalves.
- Legislation and regulation (including considering bureaucratic barriers to co-location and MSP?)
- In practice, wind farms can act as reserves for fish and other animals, since fishing is prohibited – can this type of reserve benefit some species, fisheries and aquatic ecosystems?
- Can we improve the habitat for fish and other animals by creating artificial reefs there?
As a “lighthouse” project the work will contribution to a number of EU policy priorities including working towards the 2030 Mission Ocean goal of restoring oceans and waters through research, innovation and blue investment.
The project is based in the Baltic basin, but seeks to benefit other EU and international basins through knowledge and innovation transfer. In many states, the offshore wind industry and marine multi-use sites are only in the early stages of development. The project will also contribute in discussions surrounding the increasing emphasis on Marine Spatial Planning and engage with the EU MSP Platform.