A 'Blue Revolution' to fight hunger in Haiti and world
Amid cropland and freshwater shortages, deep-water 'free-range' fish farming gives people protein – and jobs. Modern marine aquaculture could put Haiti on the cutting edge of the fastest-growing global food industry.
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In terms of how much of an animal is actually consumed by people, fish also trump land livestock, with far greater edible mass. About 65 percent of the raw weight of finfish is eaten, compared with 50 percent for chicken and pigs.Skip to next paragraph
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The fecundity of finfish and shellfish also far surpasses the limited litters of livestock, allowing improvements in selective breeding practices for increased productivity. Endowed with prodigious powers of reproduction at early maturation, species in the sea can spawn millions of eggs several times a year. Modern genetic techniques and technologies are exploiting this characteristic for producing up to 40 percent greater growth rates and higher resistance to disease in just a few generations.
Consider the thousands of gallons of fresh water needed to produce a pound of food on land that could be saved by sea production of animal – and plant – species. And marine aquaculture is less susceptible than agriculture to the effects of climate change. As global temperatures rise, water tables are falling due to increased pumping for agriculture irrigation on a hotter planet.
Teach a man to fish and ...
The biggest challenge, however, is educating Haitians about this opportunity and training a workforce to start a new industry.
This fall, a cohort of Haitians is expected to come to the Florida Keys to learn the basics of marine science and sustainable, open-ocean cage farming. The intense two-week course will offer hands-on instruction in nursery, hatchery, and everything about the cages – how to assemble, deploy, and maintain them, and what to do in the event of a hurricane.
This program will also provide the Haitians with the skills and knowledge to manage mariculture demonstration projects in their own country. That can then lead to launching commercial-scale operations. If Haitians – an industrious people fond of fish – can marry up with the offshore marine farming business, their country could improve its food import problem and malnourished population.
Then Haiti would be living up to the vision of Jacques Cousteau three decades ago: "We must turn to the sea with new understanding and new technology. We need to farm it as we farm the land."