PRACTI-RAS project Partners visit at AquaBioTech Group.

As the coordinator of the PRACTI-RAS project, AquaBioTech Group hosted our Norwegian partners Val Skoler last week during their visit to Malta.

Val Skoler is a primary and high school in Kolvereid, five hours north of Trondheim, with an R&D department in which the main areas of work are project management, biological and technological development, as well as education relating to the aquaculture and agriculture industries.

Before going on the visit let’s have an overview of PRACTIRAS project.

Technological solutions for intensive production methods like recirculating aquaculture (RAS) production have allowed the finfish sectors to increase farm outputs while conserving and specialising manpower resources. RAS has already become a key technology in the European aquaculture industry, particularly for hatchery management of traditional and new farmed species and for industry research and there is a growing interest in increasing its use, for example, for grow out of salmon post smolt. RAS facilities, compared to traditional production methods, require different staff skill sets for the operators and product to thrive. Job readiness in precision monitoring and control and emerging RAS technologies skills are important learning outcomes both for today’s aquaculture students and for the professional development of existing industry members. Highly specialised on-site vocational education and training, in addition to providing very specific skill sets, also allows the trainees to work closely with industry. This also prepares students for innovation and adaptability, so that they can upskill as technology advances and industry evolves in the future 

A transnational small-scale Erasmus+ partnership between AquaBioTech Group, an award-winning aquaculture consultancy and engineering company, and Val Skoler AS, a Norwegian private upper secondary school, is providing this opportunity to the fish farmers of tomorrow. The PRACTI-RAS Vocational Education and Training Erasmus+ Partnership is developing a train-the-trainer course in hands on RAS aquaculture. The course will support teachers at Val Skoler AS to develop learning programs for their students which will provide the most up-to-date and practical knowledge needed when they enter the workforce. Val Skoler AS aims to be up to date with the latest industry directions and to work closely with the future potential employers of its graduates, in line with its mandate to provide graduates that will be a strength for the companies they join. The project will include opportunities to learn the theory and practical skills to operate and maintain the RAS units and will connect the learners directly with the professional team at AquaBioTech Group, those who design, engineer, construct and maintain the RAS technology on a daily basis. This fully integrated experience allows both AquaBioTech Group and Val Skoler to work in their distinct area of specialisation to optimize the education of students in the topic and covering elements of education, technological innovation, and practical husbandry. 

More information on the project here

The 3 days’ visit schedule.

The visit began with an opening meeting by members of our R&D&I team: project manager Dannie D. O’Brien, R&D&I director Tamás Bardócz and aquaculture consultant Freya M. Robinson, who greeted our visitors Marthe Austad and Kjetil Lindgjerdet. The project meeting started with introductory presentations from both companies and then continued with the current project updates and an impact and dissemination workshop. The day ended with a tour of the Malta National Aquarium.

On the second day, our R&D&I research coordinator Dr. Giovanni M. Cusimano gave our visitors a tour of our certified Innovia RAS facility, followed by a meeting to discuss project activities and a workshop on engaging young people and students in science and research. Later in the day, our R&D&I technician Natalie E. Panasiak demonstrated our daily RAS activities before the day concluded with a networking dinner.

On the final day, Marthe and Kjetil continued with RAS activities in our facilities and had a closing meeting with our CEO Shane A. Hunter. The final part of their trip was a guided snorkelling tour at St. Pauls Bay, where they were introduced to the natural Maltese marine life.

Many thanks to our Norwegian partners for their visit and the highly beneficial exchange of knowledge and experience in how to involve young people in aquaculture and research. Marthe and Kjetil described their visit to AquaBioTech Group as inspiring, with a wealth of new knowledge, and thanked us for a lovely stay in Malta.

Stay tuned for future project updates!