The United States imports ten-billion-dollars more seafood than it exports, and demand is only rising. More than half of all seafood comes from farms, easing stress on natural fish populations and providing a sustainable alternative to wild catching, but prohibitive costs have driven seafood farms overseas. Read on to learn about America's astounding trade deficit, aquaculture's bid to save the day, and how the Osmobot might help reverse the trend.
THE RISING TIDE OF DEMAND
That's a problem, and not just for sushi fanatics. Aquaculture has grown worldwide by eight percent every year since 1970, making it the single fastest growing food industry on the planet. NOAA estimates that even a modest growth in domestic aquaculture could add as many as 50,000 jobs to the economy and over one billion dollars in revenue.
But the fledgling industry is still finding its sea legs in America. Fish farms in Maine have come under fire for ruining the views from vacation properties, for example, and there is little regulatory or political backing for burgeoning farms. Advances in the past few years have made aquaculture more feasible in US waters, however, thanks in large part to NOAA and the Department of Commerce.
AMERICAN AQUACULTURE TO THE RESCUE?
Over fifty percent of global seafood spends part of its lifetime in a fish farm. But right now, the US mostly farms low-cost species like catfish. Recent advances in legislation and technology have made shellfish farming in the Gulf of Mexico more attractive, however. Many oysters and sea bass are farmed on coastal hatcheries and aquaculture farms in New England. But coastline is an extremely limited resource, and the aforementioned fights with vacationers have made the creation of new farms difficult.
THE NEXT BIG WAVE IN AQUACULTURE
company is out to cut into the seafood deficit by breaking new ground in aquaculture. After growing the baby muscles in a California nursery, they will be brought out to sea to feed on natural phytoplankton until they are ready for consumption eight months later.
Of course, one company is not going to erase a ten-billion-dollar deficit by itself, but it's a start. And Osmobot is honored to be a part of it, monitoring the health of all those baby muscles back in the hatchery. For an industry plagued by high costs and low investment, the Osmobot's affordability and technological edge can help make aquaculture more affordable and attractive to domestic farmers.
Ten billion dollars is a lot of money to go missing each year, but the the oceans are the ones that might truly suffer in the end. None of these problems will disappear overnight, but check out the comments and let us know what you think of the solutions.
Nick Geisler-- Blogger and Producer,
High Meadows Productions