The Future of Sustainable Aquaculture with Innovative Technology and Practices
Aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing food industry. It should come as no surprise as it is taxed with the responsibility of feeding a rapidly growing global population. As worldwide seafood consumption increases, sustainable aquaculture must ramp up its production to keep pace with demand. The growth of sustainable aquaculture is imperative to easing pressure off wild fisheries populations. However, there are concerns over the potential environmental implications of such expansion. Luckily, there has been a lot of innovation and technology developed recently geared toward the longevity and sustainability of the industry.
Here are a few of the best ways to reduce seafood farming’s environmental footprint and create sustainable aquaculture production.
Move aquaculture inland.
Moving aquaculture inland into land-based recirculating systems is one of the best ways to reduce or eliminate environmental impacts from farming fish. Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) is a technology that creates suitable aquatic conditions for aquaculture using indoor tanks, pumps, aerators and filters. The technology is designed to attain 100 percent water recycling within the system. Land-based RAS is an extremely exciting innovation not only because of the reduction in environmental effects but also because it creates the opportunity for aquaculture to take place anywhere, including in urban areas.
Move aquaculture offshore.
Did you know that the oceans make up around 70 percent of the world’s surface but contribute less than 2 percent of the world’s food supply? Offshore sustainable aquaculture systems are environmentally conscious means to produce seafood. These offshore systems are marine net pens that are placed out in the open ocean far from the coastline. The pens are exposed to deeper water and more powerful currents than in coastal areas which enables more efficient dilution of the waste produced from the farm. Additionally, in offshore waters, there are fewer nutrients and less biodiversity when compared to fragile coastal waters, enabling a faster dispersion of fish waste into the marine food web.
Utilize multi-trophic aquaculture.
A great low-cost way of reducing nutrient build-up is simply to use filter feeders to do the job for you. Multi-trophic aquaculture involves the farming of species like shellfish, seaweed and carp alongside fed species like salmon or shrimp, and as the byproducts from the fed species enter the water they become inputs for the filter feeders. This reduces effluent build-up and improves water quality all while providing additional economic value to the farmers.
Invest in new renewable energy sources.
Although cost benefits from renewable energy are still marginal, the environmental friendliness and public perception of renewable energy sources could lead to a positive shift in image for the aquaculture industry. There’s a wide variety of renewable energy technologies entering the aquaculture field such as wind-powered water pumps and solar-powered water heating systems that will continue to become more sophisticated in the coming years. Investing in these technologies will reduce long-term operating costs and increase competitiveness and profitability in addition to reducing environmental implications.
Aquaculture faces an immense challenge ahead. But with the industry growing and evolving simultaneously, the goal of feeding the world in a sustainable manner becomes an achievable goal.
This post was created by GSA Summer 2017 Intern Jason Underhill.