Recirculating Marine Aquaculture: Farmed Fish Minus the Pollution


Image credit: UMBI Center of Marine Biotechnology
Fully Contained, Indoor Fish Farming
Update: Karin has reported on this initiative before under Fish Farming Moves to the Condos, and Lloyd also covered it under the Future of Food. Great to see it still goind strong.

The dire state of global fish stocks is pretty well known by now - with costs of poor management of fish stocks running to $50 billion a year. Yet what's the alternative? Sea-based fish farming carries dire environmental risks, and while a few brave souls are experimenting with urban aquaculture, a solution to feeding the world's appetite for seafood without depleting the world's seas still seems a long way off. The Baltimore Sun brings us news from the UMBI Center of Marine Biotechnology in Maryland, who have developed a system for supplying sustainable seafood from on-land farms.
The system, dubbed Recirculating Marine Aquaculture, creates artificial seawater that is recycled using a select group of microorganisms, and solid waste is collected and used to produce methane that helps power the operations. The center is also trying to develop a new fish food based on algae and plants - rather than ground up fish.

Fish being farmed so far include striped bass, blue crabs and branzini - a popular restaurant fish that is often flown in from Europe. In an article in the Baltimore Sun, Yonathan Zohar - the director of the center, explained the thinking behind recirculating marine aquaculture:

"These fish are as clean, green and organic as you can get," say Zohar, who has bred and raised striped bass and blue crabs in the Columbus Center laboratory. He's focusing the center's efforts on fish that he believes have commercial potential, such as branzini, a popular European fish that is farmed extensively in the Mediterranean to protect what remains of the wild stock. But Zohar notes that he's raised daurade, or sea bream, another Mediterranean fish, and recently began working with cobia, a popular sport fish also prized for its flavor. Staff members are preparing to try bluefin tuna in larger tanks.

By all accounts restaurants are salivating at the possibility of fresh, sustainable and reliable seafood - so maybe this isn't the end of the line for fish after all?

Tags: Agriculture | Animals | Fish | Fishing | Local Food | Maryland | United States