SDC Students in Norway for SUSSWATER
Nine A-level, Applied Science and Animal Management students recently visited Norway as part of an Erasmus+ funded project to learn more about the sustainable use of water. This project is run by SUSSWATER and involves partner colleges and organisation in three other countries; Bromangymnasiet College in Hudiksvall, Sweden, Val Skole in Norway and the Irish Sea Fisheries Board; This is the last of the four ‘mobilities’ with visits to the other three places having already taken place over the course of the last 2 academic years. The purpose of these visits is for students to gain a greater understanding of the sustainable use of water in both their home regions and other European counties. As well as this the project exists to promote a range of other skills such as language, communication, presentation and team-working as well as promote and develop links between individuals from different cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds and hopefully to forge lasting friendships between students (and staff) all over Europe.
This is the last of the four mobilities each partner has also brought students to Sweden to work alongside each other and exchange ideas for a week.
On the recent visit students were accompanied by South Devon College lecturers Matt Rossin and Luke Peakman and were involved in arrange of tours, talks and activities designed to strengthen their understanding of the use of water as a resource in the region, with an emphasis on salmon farming and aquaculture.
Upon arrival at Val Skole after a 5 hour drive from Trondheim Airport the students were met by blizzard conditions, much to their delight. However, the following day, the snow had mostly melted and the students attended a lecture by some of the Norwegion students about a recent fish population study they had completed. They were then involved in a practical laboratory session involving fish dissection and the measurement of a range of fish population parameters that form a large part of fish population biology and ecology in the region.
On day two the group visited the remote islands of Sør-Gjæslingan which were previously home to 5000 cod fishing boats in the early 1900s. The trip to these islands involved an exciting 40 minute RIB boat ride through some quite bumpy seas conditions! The students were given a tour themed around the coastal culture and history of the islands and their importance in the fishing industry through the ages. In the evening, There was also a tour of the schools facilities form the enthusiastic Norwegian students, which we quite impressive- a large working farm, aquaculture centre, salmon farm and equine centre.
Day three included another boat trip. This time it was a more sedate ride to a working salmon farm in one of the many fjords in the region. This nicely linked the historical tour of the previous day with the modern equivalent and gave the opportunity for the students to ask a lot of questions about how the salmon farms can be run in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. This day also included a tour of the salmon hatchery which rears the salmon and provides the adults for the sea farms. The students were also able to take part in a practical activity analysing the quality of the water in the fjords and identifying the phytoplankton and zooplankton on which the whole aquatic ecosystem relies.
Prior to the trip, our students had prepared a number of posters about the use of water in our own region, from conservation and coastal management to tourism. Day four allowed them to present their work at the SUSSWATER conference at the Rørvik museum. This event was attended by local dignitaries, industry representatives school children and the local Mayor. The students impressed with their detailed knowledge of our local water resource use and management and with their eye-catching posters. There were also several fascinating and engaging talks from local industry delegates ranging from the designing of electric boats and the effects of climate change in fishing to the recycling of plastic waste and coastal management in the region. The day finished with a fishing trip from a disused salmon farm. For some students this was their first time sea fishing and they were very successful, catching a range of cod, haddock and whiting.
The final day started with all students involved in a beach clean. After an hour of work they had filled a large number of sacks full of waste, mainly plastic – a great effort! In the afternoon a number of students went on a hike from the school up a 100m high mountain and gave them the opportunity to take some photos of the spectacular scenery with panoramic views of beaches, snow topped mountains and numerous fjords.
As well as academic and vocational aspects there was [plenty of time for some fun and the students were keen to get involved in all the activities on offer, from playing football, table tennis and pool, to horse-riding and even clay pigeon shooting! The final icing on the cake was an unexpected viewing of the northern lights on the final evening which really topped off a great week and one both staff and students will never forget.
April 1-5, the final LTT-activity in SUSSWATER was conducted at Val in Norway. This was the fourth week where students and teachers from Ireland, UK, Sweden and Norway were gathered to learn more about sustainable use of water-based resources.
In addition to the students from Val vgs, a total of 21 students and teachers from the other partners participated. An intensive program for the week was prepared, with both practical exercises, teaching, experiences in the maritime environment and of course a good dose of cultural and social activities and experiences.
After quite long journeys by plane and bus, the participants arrived during the Sunday evening. The students were housed at Val vgs, while the teachers lived at Kolvereid camping a short distance from school. Monday morning started with the “traditional” get-to-know-each other, where each school presented themselves.
After lunch we worked at the laboratory with an assessment of trout that was caught in a lake.
On Tuesday we go the island of Sør-Gjeslingan, a former fishing community outside Rørvik. The trip out to the island was with RIB, and became a quite tough experience at high speed on rough water. At Sør-Gjeslingan we have a guided tour, and learned how it was to fish for cod from open small boats so far out from shoreland. It was something completely different from what we are used to today, and it was interesting to see and hear how fishing took place 100 years ago. Although the weather did not show up on its best, everyone was well dressed and kept warm. When we return to Rørvik, we visit a fish landing facility. They process almost all their landed fish, and offer products ranging from salted cod to fish cakes.
The following day, the focus was on the aquaculture industry in Norway. In the area of Val there is a lot of farming of salmon, and we visit commercial fish farms both on shore and in the sea. We saw how the salmon was produced in tanks on shore until it was about 100 grams. Then it is put in cages in the sea and grows there until it is about 5 kg which is the slaughter weight. The students were divided into three groups, which rotated throughout the day. In addition to visits to fish farms, there were also measurements of water quality and collection of plankton to look at the composition of zooplankton in the sea.
Thursday was seminar-day. The seminar was arranged in Rørvik, and in total there were 90 participants. In addition to the participants from Susswater, there were also students and teachers from other schools there, as well as representatives from the business community, local government and some people from the public. The day started with a poster session, where the students presented posters that they had made about water-based topics. At the seminar there were talks from both the governmental and the business sector about the protection and use of water-based resources. There was also time for a good lunch, of course fish soup!
The last day there was practical work with beach cleaning. Plastic has become a major problem around the world, and the area of Val is no exception. Eager students cleared several hundred meters of beach zone during some effective working hours. Always good to be able to translate the theory into practice!
In addition to the professional focus during the week we also find time to social activities, quite easy to perform as all the students stayed at Val. Lot of fun for both students and teachers!
When the visitors were to sum up the week, it was generally agreed that there are too many bread meals in Norway, aquaculture is very exciting, Val is a great school and Susswater has been an educational project!
Recently staff from BIM (Bord Iascaigh Mhara) Ireland’s seafood development agency attended the Susswater transnational project in cooperation with NYN at VAL in Norway (Sunday 31st March to Sunday 7th April 2019). Val is an Upper Secondary school, situated on the rural part of Mid-Norway and it offers vocational training in aquaculture, agriculture and equine studies. During the visit, Louise Collins and Ronan Browne had the pleasure of being brought to commercial Aquaculture units and Fishery processing operations in the company of lecturers and students involved in this Erasmus programme. David Millard is the lead organiser for BIM and the project is focused on the sustainable use of water, involving schools from around Europe (Norway, Sweden, UK and Ireland).
As part of the activities for the week BIM staff were shown with the other participants current and cutting-edge aquaculture technologies in action and given practical teaching demonstrations of ecological and aquatic monitoring methodologies in the classroom and outdoors. The guided site visits during the week included trips to a commercial salmon hatchery and sea cages, an excursion to a remote village on an island where cod fishing took place and an in depth look at a fish processing plant in Rorvik.
Specific highlights of the site visits included witnessing the large scale of the aquaculture operations in Norway, the striving for improvements in production and environmental practices. Their integration of these activities with coastal communities. On the practical side of the activities we saw lump fish and high-tech lasers being used in the fight against sea lice. The selection of salmon that have specific characteristics that suit the sites they are being grown at. It was fascinating to observe the level of knowledge that the Norwegian students were familiar with and able to impart to their Swedish, British and Irish guests.
On Thursday 7th April, the BIM representatives attended a Seminar on the” Use and Management of Marine Resources”. At which Ronan presented on the work and objectives of the BlueFish project (An Ireland Wales Interreg programme) which is looking at the potential impacts of climate change on fish and shellfish. Other speakers at the event covered the topics of Susswater, the sustainable use of marine resources, coastal management, marine plastic waste, green fisheries/aquaculture, tourism and climate change. The conference was well attended by local politicians and other participants from the project. In addition to the spoken presentations students had prepared posters on related matters and were on hand to discuss them.
It is thought that projects such as Susswater can help to develop the Irish Seafood Industry by improving the technical expertise of participants in the marine and freshwater industries through training and promoting responsible environmental practice. BIM would like to acknowledge and thank the lecturers from VAL (Halvor Mortensen & Håkon Valen) who organised and delivered a very informative and enjoyable week for all.