Fish raised in offshore pens, such as these yellowtail at Kona Blue Water Farms near Hawaii, could become a more sustainable source of protein for humans than wild fish or beef. Image: Masa Ushioda CoolWaterPhoto.com
- Meat consumption is rising worldwide, but production involves vast amounts of energy, water and emissions. At the same time, wild fisheries are declining. Aquaculture could become the most sustainable source of protein for humans.
- Fish farming already accounts for half of global seafood production. Most of it is done along coastlines, which creates substantial water pollution.
- Large, offshore pens that are anchored to the seafloor are often cleaner. Those farms, other new forms of aquaculture, and practices that clean up coastal operations could expand aquaculture significantly.
- Questions remain about how sustainable and cost-effective the approaches can be.
More In This Article
Neil Sims tends his rowdy stock like any devoted farmer. But rather than saddling a horse like the Australian sheep drovers he grew up with, Sims dons a snorkel and mask to wrangle his herd: 480,000 silver fish corralled half a mile off the Kona coast of Hawaii’s Big Island.
Tucked discretely below the waves, Sims’s farm is one of 20 operations worldwide that are trying to take advantage of the earth’s last great agricultural frontier: the ocean. Their offshore locations offer a distinct advantage over the thousands of conventional fish farms—flotillas of pens that hug the coastline. Too often old-style coastal farms, scorned as eyesores and ocean polluters, exude enough fish excrement and food scraps to cloud the calm, shallow waters, triggering harmful algal blooms or snuffing out sea life underneath the pens. At offshore sites such as Kona Blue Water Farms, pollution is not an issue, Sims explains. The seven submerged paddocks, each one as big as a high school gymnasium, are anchored within rapid currents that sweep away the waste, which is quickly diluted to harmless levels in the open waters.
This article was originally published with the title The Blue Food Revolution.