5 November 2019

Composer uses music and video to explore environmental realities of fish farming

Award-winning Sheffield composer and performer Ryan Taylor is set to launch an innovative multimedia performance in Tasmania this Friday uncovering the true environmental impacts of fish farming.

Aquakulture
  • Award-winning Sheffield composer and performer Ryan Taylor launches Aquakulture in Tasmania

  • Live multimedia performance developed in collaboration with academics studying environmental impacts of fish farms

  • Music and video explores deeply rooted attitudes, perceptions and beliefs around aquaculture in a post-truth era


Aquakulture will use music and video to explore the rapidly changing nature of fishing farming, its connection to land and sea food systems, and single-issue environmentalism.

Ryan, a PhD researcher at the University of Sheffield, developed the performance in collaboration with Associate Professor Julia Blanchard from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, and Professor Duncan Cameron from the Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield.

The academics have been researching the environmental impacts of the shift towards feeding farmed fish a diet based on crops rather than fish, which has been driven by concerns about the reliance on wild fish stocks for consumption and feed. 

The scientists are investigating the impact of this shift in terms of ocean ecosystems, food production and carbon dioxide emissions and how this will underpin sustainable aquaculture (or fish farming).

Music is an incredibly powerful tool for bringing people together and creating a shared space for dialogue surrounding complex ideas.

Ryan Taylor

Composer and PhD researcher at the University of Sheffield

Aquaculture is the largest primary industry in Tasmania. It has a gross value of over $750 million (£400 million), employs more than 1500 people and, in 2016-2017, produced over 50,000 tonnes.

Ryan’s performance seeks to engage and inform the local community in Hobart in the environmental issues surrounding the industry – communicating the science behind it in an accessible way and encouraging people to question deeply rooted attitudes, perceptions and beliefs in the post-truth era of misinformation.

Preview from the forthcoming 'Aquakulture' live performance and installation.

Ryan Taylor, composer and PhD researcher at the University of Sheffield, said: “Music is an incredibly powerful tool for bringing people together and creating a shared space for dialogue surrounding complex ideas. Aquakulture is a reflection on what the latest research is telling us about fish farms’ impact on the environment – celebrating technological innovation while exploring potential challenges.”

Associate Professor Julia Blanchard, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and the Centre for Marine Socioecology at the University of Tasmania, said: “We don’t have a full understanding of the consequences of the linkages between food production systems across marine and terrestrial environments. This is because research is often siloed. Animal feed is an excellent example of ‘hidden’ linkages as we often don’t think about what our food eats. Aquaculture has achieved a lot through rapid innovations and has shifted feed resources away from wild marine stocks, but we still need to understand the consequences of these shifts for terrestrial ecosystems as well for the local ecosystems where the fish are grown.”

Professor Duncan Cameron, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield, said: “The move towards feeding farmed fish with cereal crops and soya has been guided by the best of environmental intentions – but not enough research has been done into the impact of introducing these plants into ocean ecosystems. 

“Our findings suggest that this seemingly small change could have significant consequences for the aquatic environment – but this is complicated science. Working with artists and musicians like Ryan helps us to engage with communities who have the power to act on our research.” 

Contact

Sophie Armour
Media and PR Officer at the University of Sheffield
0114 222 3687
sophie.armour@sheffield.ac.uk

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