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Norwegian and South African researchers join forces to farm sea cucum...


Norwegian and South African researchers join forces to farm sea cucumber

A research cooperation between South Africa and Norway aims to develop aquaculture of novel sea cucumber species. The goal of the work, which is led by Møreforsking Ålesund, is to ensure sustainable production of sea cucumbers to provide high value seafood to the global market while at the same time reduce fishing pressure on wild stocks.

Picture above: Researchers from Møreforsking and the University of KwaZulu-Natal are collecting sea cucumber on the beach at Eastern Cape, South Africa, during a visit to South Africa in March 2019. From left: Dr. Jan Sunde and Dr. Gyda Christophersen (Møreforsking), and Dr. Deborah Robertson-Andersson from University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban.
South Africa and Norway both have a long history as fisheries and seafood nations, and in recent decades have developed considerable expertise in aquaculture. The ongoing SANOCEAN project will study key factors that are essential to the development of a commercial aquaculture industry based on juvenile production of local sea cucumbers. The concept is designed around the steps of a cultivation protocol for sea cucumbers and will generate knowledge on reproduction, growth and development until commercial size for the selected species. In Norway, the research work will focus on the red sea cucumber (Parastichopus tremulus). In South Africa, studies will be carried out on both cold and warm water species.
Sea cucumbers are prime candidates for aquaculture as they have a high market price and are suitable for co-cultivation or integrated aquaculture with fish, shellfish and macroalgae. Norwegian and South African colleagues will investigate whether the selected local Norwegian and South African species are suitable for cultivation in such systems, as well as assess the potential for aquaculture production. The researchers will pay special attention to the effects of marine pollution and microplastics on the behaviour and quality of sea cucumbers. These factors will impact the management of wild stocks and ensure the development of a sustainable industry.

  • Project title: «Emerging species for sea cucumber aquaculture».
  • Main goal: Contribute to a viable aquaculture industry based on sea cucumber species native to South Africa and Norway, which can help reducing fishing pressure, ensure sustainable production and provide high value seafood to the global market.
  • The project is one of ten research projects that were funded through the bilateral programme SANOCEAN 2018-2023 (South Africa-Norway Co-operation on Ocean research, including blue economy, climate change, the environment and sustainable energy), which aims to strengthen research cooperation between South Africa and Norway in the area of sustainable use of ocean resources.
  • Project leader: Møreforsking Ålesund AS
  • South African partners: University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban and DAFF Research Aquarium in Cape Town.
  • Financing:
  • The project is funded by the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria. The SANOCEAN program is managed by a joint secretariat from the research councils of both countries (the National Research Foundation and the Research Council of Norway).
  • The project period is four years. Joint research activities will take place alternately in South Africa and in Norway.
For more information about the project, please contact: Project manager Dr. Gyda Christophersen, Møreforsking Ålesund AS, e-mail:, telephone: +47 70111622.