SwitchMed and the Blue Economy
Launched by the European Union (EU), the SwitchMed Programme has since 2014, under the lead of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), demonstrated the potential for a green and circular economy in Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia.
Under the second phase of SwitchMed (2019-mid 2024), a component focusing on the Blue Economy concept will demonstrate business models that aspire to manage a sustainable transformation of associated maritime economic activities that can reduce their negative impact on marine and coastal ecosystems.
Improving the efficiency and environmental performance of Tunisia’s aquaculture sector
In 2021, UNIDO commissioned under the SwitchMed Programme a mapping study of the aquaculture value chain in Tunisia across four subsectors (Fish Farming, Aquaculture feed production, Hatcheries, and Shellfish farming.)
According to the study, the Tunisian aquaculture sector is characterized by good perform ance indicators (growth performance, survival rates). However, the Feeding Conversion Rate (FCR) for aquacultures in Tunisia remains too high compared with international standards.
The FCR is the amount of feed it takes to grow a kilogram of fish and is a critical parameter when determining the sustainability of aquacultures. As the required fish/feed ratio varies over time and conditions, an optimization of the FCR can help farmers give adequate feed without over or underfeeding. While underfeeding will inhibit growth, overfeeding can jeopardize the profitability of the farm with a combined impact on the environment due to the dispersion of exogenic substances leading to eutrophication and modification of marine ecosystems.
The use of eco-innovative technologies that can optimize the FCR and improve fish feeding efficiency could be essential to enhancing aquacultures’ production capacities, profitabiliity, and environmental performance.
Together with the Direction Generale de la peche et de l’aquaculture (DGPA), AquaBioTech Group (ABT) and stakeholders from the aquaculture value chain in Tunisia, UNIDO will under the SwitchMed Blue Economy component investigate the applicability of eco-innovative technologies and solutions that can improve efficiency and the environmental performance of Tunisia’s aquaculture sector.
The SwitchMed Blue Economy project in Tunisia’s aquaculture sector
Identification of eco-innovative technologies applicable to Tunisia’s aquaculture
Based on the technological solutions and specifications proposed in the baseline report, eco-innovative technologies that apply to the Tunisian context will be selected for a demonstration pilot. Examples of eco-innovative technologies for aquaculture systems include surveillance systems, digitalized feeding systems and net cage cleaning systems.
Demonstration hub for eco-innovative technologies in aquaculture
A demonstration of the selected technologies will be undertaken within an aquaculture facility in Monastir Bay to assess the technologies in the industrial context of Tunisia’s marine aquaculture. The demonstrations will take approximately nine months and evaluate the applicability, effectiveness, and potential of different technologies used in various combinations and maritime/weather conditions, considering the fish’s development stages and growth periods. The project’s final evaluation will use the results of the trials, such as life-cycle analysis, environmental impact assessment, and production parameters. The demonstration hub will also facilitate field training modules for staff from 20 aquaculture production units which will develop their skill set on the demonstrated technologies, learning operations and maintenance at the demonstration hub.
Raising awareness on sustainable aquaculture
An online training module on the benefits of eco-innovative aquaculture will be offered to government institutions, members of academia and stakeholders from other sectors to raise and support the exchange on sustainable production solutions. In 2023, a B2B event will be organized in Tunisia for stakeholders from the aquaculture industry and international/national technology providers to promote business partnerships, technology transfer and support exchange on eco-innovative solutions to and from Tunisia.
Roadmap for sustainable aquaculture in Tunisia
Data, information and experiences gathered from the demonstrations will, together with stakeholder consultations, go into developing a sustainable aquaculture Roadmap in Tunisia. The roadmap will propose recommendations and incentives to upscale the adoption of eco-innovative production methods for aquacultures in Tunisia and the Mediterranean region.
Background information to SwitchMed, implementing organizations and the funding partners
Funded by the European Union, the Government of Catalonia, and the Government of Italy, the SwitchMed Programme is implemented under the lead of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and MedWaves, the United Nations Environment Programme Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) regional activity centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (formerly known as SCP/RAC).
SwitchMed is executed and in close coordination with the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement (DG NEAR). Each implementing organization brings its specialized experience and tools to partner with the eight countries on activities that span policy development, capacity building, business support services, demonstration activities and networking.
Since 2014, SwitchMed has demonstrated the potential for a green and circular economy in Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia. Through the promotion of business models that can reduce the inefficient use of resources and the environmental footprint of existing economic activities, the SwitchMed Programme supports long-term resilience and an economic transformation of the region to meet economic, social, and environmental challenges related to the climate change.