The role of digital technologies in supporting and improving fisher and aquaculture across the supply chain - quo vadis?
Rowan, Neil J.
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Fish constitute important high protein products to meet the demands of an increasing global population. However, the continued depletion of wild fish stocks is leading to increased strain on the aquaculture sector in terms of sustaining the supply of fish and seafood to global markets. Despite the fact that aquaculture is more diversified than other agriculture sectors, there are significant pressures on the industry to continue innovating in order to enable sustainability including increased fish production, improved appropriate selection of species, disease mitigation, reduced wastage, preventing environmental pollution and generating more employment globally. This viewpoint article addresses how digital transformation can help support and meet expansion needs of the fisheries/aquaculture industries that includes exploiting and harnessing ICT, IoT, Cloud-edge computing, AI, machine learning, immersive technologies and blockchain. Digital technologies are bringing significant operational benefits for global food chain, improving efficiencies and productivity, reducing waste, contamination and food fraud. The focus on digital technologies has recently evolved to Industry 5.0 where AI and robotics are coupled with the human mind in order to advance human-centric solutions. This viewpoint describes the role of Quadruple helix Hub (academic-industry-government and society) in delivering a convergent holistic approach to meeting the diversity of fishery industry needs by connecting and placing fisheries centrally in a defined ecosystem of stakeholders. This includes specialist training, testing technologies, providing access to finance and fostering disruption through aquaculture accelerator initiatives such as that provided by Hatch Blue. Connecting digital Innovation Hubs trans-regionally, nationally and internationally will also help mitigate against significant risks for the fisheries and aquaculture industry including climate change, global pandemics and conflicts that can jeopardize fish and seafood production and supply chains. There is also a commensurate need to avail of digital technologies in order to increase awareness of key industry issues across the value chain, such as through social marketing. Thus, addressing key challenges by way of the global digital transformation of fishery and aquaculture industry will meet several sustainable development goals of the United Nations catered around the application of disruptive technology.
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