Offshore, Inland…Can’t We All Get Along?

“I’m beginning to see a pattern here,” writes Clifford Goudey in the discussion DOES the Future Lie in Offshore Aquaculture? on the Aquaculture Means Business group  on LinkedIn. “Promoters of land-based aquaculture technologies seem compelled to criticize the emerging offshore aquaculture industry. Is this because it is viewed as a threat to your bottom line? ”

In my brief time following the global aquaculture industry, I’ve seen a bit of what Clifford describes, working in both directions.  It often seems to me that advocates of different technologies and techniques spend valuable energy slamming competing technologies and techniques — energy that might be better spent collaborating creatively to develop a portfolio of methods that could profitably and sustainably help feed a growing human population.

Clifford completes his thought as follows:

“I think that with the unfulfilled and growing demand for seafood this behavior is unwarranted and counter productive. Farmed fish has enough detractors without such nonsense coming from within the aquaculture sector. A further reason for tolerance across sectors is to reduce the risk of reactionary criticism developing regarding RAS [recirculating aquaculture systems] and other land-based technologies, legitimate or otherwise.”

I couldn’t agree more.  Let’s not turn into these guys:

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3 Comments on “Offshore, Inland…Can’t We All Get Along?”

  1. Without having even watched the video (yet) I agree completely with the post and Clifford’s comments. I’m one of the people who has been part of the discussion on LinkedIn, and because I like playing the devil’s advocate a bit, my comments appear critical of offshore aquaculture.

    The comments I made were aimed more at sea cage systems that operate within a stone’s throw of the coastline, and as a closed recirc guy I’m concerned about the risks of operating open water systems, and potential for environmental damage at whatever scale. But offshore advocates are concerned about capital costs and the use of land for tank systems that could have been used for housing or cropping.

    I’m right, and they are right.

    The fact remains: “The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has projected that by 2030 an additional 37 million tones of fish per year will be required to supply global demand. Focusing on aquaculture, the FAO has projected that in order to maintain the current level of per capita consumption, global aquaculture production will need to reach 80 million tonnes by 2050. Due to the inability to increase supply from wild capture sources, the only feasible source is aquaculture. But Aquaculture can only fill this gap if it is promoted and managed in a responsible fashion.”

    Closed recirculating systems and offshore production need to do more than co-exist, they need to collaborate if we have any hope of feeding the population numbers we reached this weekend. 7 billion is a big number, and too many people are hungry. At a net population growth rate of 200,000 new people every day, the problem is not going to solve itself!

    Closed recirc systems can grow the seed stock for offshore systems, and grow the fish that don’t typically live in open water. Offshore systems can grow the fish that like the open water and that sell in much higher volumes but not at the luxury prices of some rarer species.

    There are no simple solutions to the ‘coming famine’ as Julian Cribb calls it, but closed recirculating and offshore aquaculture systems are two of the most likely key players in the complex solution.
    feeding the world.

    There is a far bigger issue at play here than pushing our own commercial barrows – we have a hungry world to feed!!

  2. As mass balance analysis and life cycle analysis are used more and more by perspective investors to evaluate production systems (whether on land or water) – and not politically/scientifically illiterate achieved favor, the most economical (fiscal and physical) will become mathematically obvious. I’ll bet on the one that has the most control and ability to best economically employ the production systems costs inputs compared to the value of its outputs. As long as open water cage systems allow waste nutrients (80% of feeds – 50-60% of operating costs) to flow into the surrounding waters they will be at a significant economic disadvantage – especially given their already higher risks, service infrastructure, repair and maintenance costs over optimally designed land based ISRAS systems of equal scale.

    • Gareth Lott (@aquanue) Says:

      I agree Durwood – whilst I appreciate that offshore aquaculture has a role to play in feeding the masses, the risks and ongoing costs, and the footprint, of open water production, compared with the level of control and ability to manage inputs and outputs offered by closed RAS systems, make closed systems a fer more bankable and attractive solution.
      Might have to seed some discussion in the group on this approach.

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