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Aquaculture Fish Farming Likened to Livestock FeedLots

By on Apr 21, 2014

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Earlier this month NPR aired a segment on Fish Farming entitled “The Future Of Clean, Green Fish Farming Could Be Indoor Factories.” The segment shared that 90% of U.S. consumed fish is imported from other countries; countries that might have lower regulation standards for fish farming. The U.S. typically imports shrimp and tilapia from warm water ponds in southeast Asia and Latin America and farmed salmon from net pins in the coastal waters of Norway and Chile. As a result of this dependence on imports and the variance of food production standards, there have been significant strides in bringing fish farming to the U.S.

Tilapia

Tilapia

The segment spotlighted  Yoni Zohar at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology in Baltimore, who’s laboratory features rows of large plastic tanks full of fish. All of the water is completely recycled and waste is filtered and  converted into nitrogen plus methane by bacteria. The methane is then converted to energy. According to Yohan, his operation doesn’t use “a drop of water from the harbor, [nor does it]  drain a drop of water into the harbor.” He went on to state in the interview that “the idea [behind his operation] is to have the entire life cycle in completely clean and controlled conditions that are disease-free, so you don’t introduce anything from the outside.”

Sounds new and inventive right? But its not!

What if I told you that this sort of food production could be likened to a feedlot if it were cattle or a broiler if the product were chicken? The move to create self-sustaining and controlled environments for producing food is crucial as our population and dependence on imports increases exponentially. And while there are naysayers that believe that this sort of agriculture will lead to breeding grounds for disease and infection or simply the visual eye- sore that may result from the development of such facilities along beautiful coastlines, aquaculture is still an alternative source of food production that requires serious consideration. Furthermore, the history of missteps that have resulted from oil drilling and other toxic spillages into our oceans are further confirmation that self-sustaining and controlled agriculture production is pivotal to maintaining our food supply.

So what’s your perspective on Fish Farming in the U.S. and it’s pros and cons? Can we have controlled farming environments that produce safe and healthy food without wreaking havoc on our environment? Is this conversation any different from the current conversations surrounding livestock production here in the U.S.?

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