Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (farming fish in tanks) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil).
Aquaponics uses nutrient rich water from fish tanks to provide plants, grown in a greenhouse, with organic fertilizer. No pesticides or herbicides are used. In addition, we can use land that is not good for farming. For these and other reasons outlined below, Aquaponics is environmentally friendly. The practice of Aquaponics creates a symbiotic relationship between fish and plants, and if properly maintained, yields great results. By combining EnEco’s TOPS technology along with aquaponics, we significantly reduce the cost of energy while also significantly improving net environmental benefits through a reduced carbon footprint.
Why should new technologies, or alternatives to fishing, be developed?
The development of new eco-friendly ways to obtain fish is becoming increasingly important, especially when fish stocks are declining at such a fast rate. Harsher control and supervision of fishing methods are being inflicted and fisherman are using a variety of fishing methods in order to meet the human consumption rate. Some methods accepted as not terribly damaging to the environment, others deadly to not only marine life, but to human health and environmental sustainability.
Two fishing methods with the most negative effects on marine life are bottom trawling and dredging.
Effects of Dredging:
Dredging involves dragging a large scoop like chain mesh along the seabed to catch scallops, oysters, clams, crabs and sea cucumbers.
Dredging releases toxic chemicals like heavy metals and PCB into the water column. These toxic chemicals are then consumed by sea creatures and when followed through the food chain, a higher concentration of toxins are observed in small sea animals, larger fish and eventually humans. Dredging also causes a disturbance of particles along the sea bed which will effecct marine metabolism and spawning.
Effects of Bottom Trawling:
Bottom trawling involves dragging heavy metal plates/blades along the sea floor. As a result, entire marine life habitats are deposited into the nets, while only about 50% is target catch, the rest is wasted. The method has been compared to using a bulldozer to collect apples.
Many claims have been made by commercial fishing industries to support bottom trawling; they claim there is no evidence that it effects the seabed or that it has any negative effect on marine life. Although, all these claims are widely dis-proven by comprehensive, thorough studies; Greenpeace has provided a report outlining these claims and all the evidence supporting the negative effects of this fishing method.
The most outstanding evidence shows the elimination of fragile coral reef and sponge structures dating back 8,000 years or more. Bottom trawling destroys habitats in hours that have grown for thousands of years. Trawls set back marine habitats decades, it takes them centuries to recover. When these fragile habitats are destroyed, young fish are exposed, resulting in the reduction of habitat complexity, productivity and biological diversity. As well as destroying decade old marine habitat, the destruction of the structures reduces fish survival as they have no where to live or hide from predators. Bottom trawling will destroy marine life ecosystems and wipe out one more scarce resource.
State of Fishing Stocks and Commercial Fishing Industry:
As quoted from the Greenpeace website:
“FAO statistics show that 77 percent of the world’s fish stocks are exploited at or beyond their sustainable levels”. From 1950 to 1990 catches have steadily declined. Human consumption of marine life has reached such a high rate that fishing alone will no longer be sufficient method to meet demand. The outrageous methods being implemented are proof of our desperate attempts to meet the quantity of food demanded; although, these methods will not increase supply, if fact in the long run they will decrease supply. As habitats, and spawning ability of marine life is effected by methods such as trawling and dredging the population of marine life will naturally decrease, recovery is only possible through new sustainable methods.
How does trawling stand in regards to energy efficiency?
“Trawling in general has the highest ratio of litres of fuel spent per ton of fish landed. In the cod industry, trawling (at an efficiency of 530 litres/ton) fared significantly worse than seine netting (440 litres/ton) or long lining (490 litres/ton). In terms of energetic return on investment the edible protein energy content of all the fish landed in the general trawl fishery amounted to less than 10 percent of the fuel energy that was burned. Inefficiency has been exacerbated by the emergence of “supertrawlers” – vessels that can exceed 100 meters in length and have propulsive engines well in excess of 10,000 horsepower.”
EnEco is building systems that combine our TOPS technology with leading edge aquaponic systems to commercially produce fish and agriculture simultaneously. Use of the TOPS technology will increase overall plant efficiency and will produce an organic, environmentally sustainable product.