Sustainable Fish Farming: Locally-Sourced Seafood to Feed the World
The UN considers aquaculture a key player in the effort to feed the world’s growing population, predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050. Due to a heightened awareness in health and nutrition, the popularity seafood has gained momentum and consumption has more than doubled in the last 50 years.
The Challenge of Unsustainable Fish Consumption
Today, traditional fish farms and aquaculture methods are unsustainable and fall short of meeting global demand, causing market prices to repeatedly increase. Last year, the United Nations released a report that warned that a third of the world’s oceans are overfished, and that fish consumption is now unsustainable. The lack of sustainable fish farming has been flagged as a major issue.
Seafood markets are frequently located far away from the fish farming plants, resulting in the need for countries to import huge quantities of seafood each year. The US, for instance, is importing more than 90% of its consumed seafood, according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). In 2018, Europe was the second largest fish and seafood importer in the world with a total value of $22.1 billion, according to EUMOFA’s 2018 report.
With huge amounts of fish and seafood making their way, daily, through nonstop air and train routes to faraway destinations, we have to ask ourselves: Is there a better way to practice fish farming and meet global demand?
What is Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) technology?
Over the past two decades, an alternative sustainable fish farming solution to the growing demand for nutritional seafood emerged: Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS), or land-based fish production facilities.
RAS is an advanced aquaculture technology disrupting the fish farming industry. Unrestricted to a specific area, RAS enables the local production of fish in a safe, environmentally-conscience manner, while almost eliminating the need for transportation. This method of local, sustainable fish farming can also shorten the farm-to-table cycle, providing fresh seafood supply to landlocked regions, while contributing to job creation in local communities.
Local Fish Farming is Sustainable Fish Farming
Building a completely modern, data-driven, controlled, traceable, and sustainable fish farming process, RAS empowers consumers by providing information on the fish they are consuming, including the food it is feed, the environment it was grown and raised in, as well as its full trajectory, from egg stage up to the grocery store.
Land-based aquaculture provides a clean and healthy habitat for fish, free of environmental pollutants such as heavy metals and plastic particles. The water in RAS system tanks is constantly recycled and under strict biosecurity protocols that eliminate the need to add chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones to the water.
Recent technological advancements have also allowed for minimal use of power and water, making land-based facilities the most sustainable fish farming discipline available today. Dozens of RAS facilities are already successfully operating around the world, contributing to the global fish supply.
Local and Healthy Seafood, Accessible to All
We’re heading in the right direction. Just in the past few years, many additional large-scale facilities have been announced by investors and technology companies, with the mission to make fresh, healthy, and sustainable fish and seafood accessible to all.
As awareness of the environmental impact of food production grows, interest in sustainable foodtech solutions, among them sustainable fish farming technologies, grows as well. Companies and investors focused on sustainable fish and seafood practices are set to become key players in the future of the world’s food production and resources.
Technology is giving us the opportunity to ease the burden on our seas, give the oceans the time they need to replenish themselves again, and to make fresh, healthy fish accessible to all through local and sustainable fish farming methods.