Free range fish farming
The following is a copy of a proposal for "free range fish farming," which I would like to show to this forum before I start sending it to environmentalists, conservation groups, goverments, and whoever else may be willing to support this venture. This could be huge. It could fix alot of problems and feed alot of people. I am not trying to get rich. I am not going to patent this idea. The Romans raised salmon in pools and harvested them when they they came back from the ocean, which is essentially what this is all about. It seems that during the advancements of modern civilisation, we forgot how to do things the easy way. What I would like is for people to implement this idea on a large scale, maybe all us fishermen will get involved. Please consider that this is a draft copy, and that it was written for an audience group with varying backgrounds. I appreciate your feedback, and perhaps some of you would be interested in seeing this become a reality. I can be reached at email@example.com
Free Range Fish Farming Proposal
Eric T. Lenover
Sept 17, 2005
People need to change the way they exploit salmon for food. What I am proposing is to raise “free range salmon.” It will require a cold water source, followed by a hatchery, rearing ponds, fish processing plant, and then flow downhill to the sea. We raise appropriate species of fish in the hatchery and rearing ponds, when they are ready to migrate they swim to the ocean. After feeding and growing to a mature size, they return on a spawning run, and swim right into the processing plant.
This method has vast advantages over current practices such as net cage aquaculture and commercial fishing. It is my greatest hope that it will someday replace both of these unsustainable industries. By taking these unnecessary pressures off our wild, native stocks, we may actually have a chance at conserving them before they disappear.
Our species has inflicted considerable harm to the various races of anadromous salmonids. Overharvesting of wild stocks and the effects of habitat degradation have greatly reduced their numbers. Many races of wild fish have been lost, and many more are in danger. Each of these races has evolved over time to take advantage of its own unique environmental conditions. Each is irreplacable.
Today even the great runs of the west coast of North America are dwindling. This frontier was preceded in not too recent history by the devastation of the atlantic salmon and the eastern brook trout of Atlantic Canada and the northeastern United States. Going back in time not much further we see the disappearance of salmon in the many rivers of England and Europe. Anywhere the population of our species has exploded due to the general advances of industrialisation, the salmon’s has shrunk due to the general effects of industrialisation.
Even putting aside dams, global warming, pollution, deforestation, irrigation, and the widespread commercial slaughter of these wild fish, a new threat to their survival has emerged. We are currently raising these fish like livestock, trying to domesticate them as a way of controlling and insuring production. I am not going to compare studies that suggest net cage aquaculture is good with studies that say net cage aquaculture is maybe not so good. I am going to explicitly state that net cage aquaculture is killing wild salmonids and defiling their environments just like fishermen, environmentalists, conservation groups and concerned members of the scientific community have been telling you for years. We need a solution to this nonsense and fast.
I will take no credit for discovering this idea. I did not invent it and I will not seek to patent it or control it. Fact is the Romans beat me to it. I would however like to convince forward thinking peoples of this world that there is a better, cheaper, easier, and more sustainable way to raise these fish. It is my greatest hope that we can eliminate net cage aquaculture, commercial fishing, and hatchery supplementation of wild fish. These wild fish belong to their rivers, and are a gift to traditional user groups such as native peoples, sport fishermen, grizzly bears and bald eagles.
Free Range Fish Farming:
Anyone who has ever witness an “enhanced” salmon run will need no further proof that this is possible. This is currently standard fisheries management on the pacific coast of North America, where anglers, natives and commercial interests alike demand fish to replace severely depleted wild stocks. The survival rate of these eggs is very much higher than the wild, therefore requiring less genetic material to produce a certain number of fish. I’ve seen rivers so full of hatchery coho that they were swimming nose to tail, one after the other, slowly upstream to spawning grounds that belong to their wild cousins. This must seriously disrupt the spawning of the wild fish, just the sheer numbers of hatchery fish would overwhelm the gene pool.
How it works; Migratory salmonids are ”imprinted” with the unique chemistry of their home waters. When they are mature they seek this scent, following it through ocean currents, into rivers and eventually to the place of their birth. Nature has allowed a low stray rate (maybe 2%) for the purpose of both genetic diversity and exploitation of previously unavailable spawning grounds. This homing system is extremely accurate. The Vancouver Aquarium has sockeye salmon coming home to a concrete pool with scented saltwater pumped through it and into Burrard inlet!
These hatchery fish may lack many aspects of wild fish, such as genetic diversity and willingness to attack a fly. But one aspect we could all agree on is that they taste like a wild fish. These fish have been out in the ocean feeding on plankton, baitfish, and shrimps. They chase and kill in order to eat and grow. Their flesh is filled with nutrients from the ocean, trace elements and minerals that have been bio-accumulated through the food chain. Caretenoids from the shrimp give their flesh a rich colour. Oils rich in omega 3 protected them from the low temperatures of the deep, rich waters in which they feed.
As good of a source of food these hatchery fish have turned out to be, they just simply do not belong in the rivers with wild fish stocks. Ideally, when they come back to land, we should collect them all and bonk them on their heads. Then we should gut, gill, and bleed them all right away, to preserve the flesh in a perfect condition. After which we should consume them. A simple system for producing these fish will include a water source, a hatchery, rearing ponds, and a fish processing plant, all flowing down hill in that order. When the fish return, they swim right into the processing plant, in prime condition and maximum size. We don’t chase after fish and we don’t feed them into adulthood. We hatch them, let nature look after them, then they come back to us and we eat them.
Through selecting different species and races of salmonids, we can vary the return times of the fish. For example; a facility on the west coast of Canada could support the five species of pacific salmon (King, coho, sockeye, chum and pink) plus steelhead (rainbow) trout. Plants could be made of early returning fish from large river systems, and later runs from smaller systems. Steelhead are known to run in just about every month of the year, depending on the conditions of their native rivers. So by properly selecting eggs and milt from different populations of native fish, we could create year round runs of hatchery fish for food. On the east coast of North America, we could work with atlantic salmon and eastern brook trout. On the huge north coasts of Canada, as well as in Greenland and other northern regions arctic char may be raised. In Europe there are atlantic salmon and brown trout. Russia has taimen, as well as atlantic and pacific salmons. In the southern hemisphere, Chile and Argentina have a mixture of just about everything. I’m sure there are other anadromous salmons, trouts, and chars that I may not have even mentioned. Come to think of it, this will work on any fish species that migrates to the river of its birth to spawn, including a lot of freshwater and tropical fish. It will work in the Great Lakes, which already supports many non native salmonids.
Free Range Fish Farming has many advantages over our current fish protein producing and collecting methods.
Quality of product: When the fish return to a FRFF, they are maximum size and peak condition because they are at the start of their spawning run. They swim a short distance upstream, into a processing plant and are quickly killed, eviscerated, and bled. This ensures that bacteria has very little chance to taint the meat. Any knowledgeable fisher would do the same immediately after landing the catch, and I can assure you that this makes a huge difference in the time it will keep fresh. I have personally kept trout fillets in my refrigerator for six days before cooking, and they had no fishy odour whatsoever. I have also seen fish from the fresh fish market degrade below edibility after one day in the refrigerator. This is because commercially caught fish die long before they are processed. They hang in gill nets, and when brought in they sit on ice until they are cleaned, sometimes on shore hours or days later. Of course not all commercial fisherman follow these practices, live capture methods such as trolling are just not as profitable as larger scale methods like open sea drift netting.
Net cage farming uses a controlled environment to ensure the fish live and grow to market size and quality. Factors that need to be controlled include parasites such as sea lice, which are controlled by chemicals. The fish are also fed antibiotics to combat disease, as their immune systems are compromised by a diet of rendered fish. This rendered fish also happens to lack in caretenoids so to make the flesh coloured like a wild fish would be, so dyes are included in the feed. Although these chemicals all play their part in ensuring the quality of the fish being raised, I doubt they actually increase the “quality” of the fish.
FRFF requires a basic hatchery with pumps, aerators, and backup generators. It also requires a fish processing plant. Considering that commercial fishing is becoming more reliant on hatchery raised fish, we can also say that both commercial fishing and net cage farming also require hatcheries and processing plants. Now lets think about all the other uses of energy in these two industries. Like fossil fuels – for boats and generators and also for rendering all that feed. Do we not have a finite supply of fossil energy? A well designed fish hatchery could make do with solar and water energy, and a processing plant could be powered by humans with fillet knives if need be!
Easing the pressure on wild stocks:
I feel no need to prove that commercial fishing or net cage aquaculture harms wild fish stocks. Even the people who make money denying these facts know it is true. I could quote recent studies and so could they. But realistically, enough damage has already been done. These methods indiscriminately destroy native fish populations. It doesn’t matter how much we count and monitor the runs, one gill net could catch the entire spawning run of a small creek. A misplaced fish farm could kill the parr of an entire watershed as they swim through its sea lice infested waters. It’s true that other factors affect wild fish. We also need to fix those problems.
FRFF solves all of the problems associated with the other methods. Hatchery fish are kept out of the wild gene pool. They do not swim up the river to spawn with wild fish, slowly diluting the genetic variables that contribute to adaptability. There is no competition for spawning gravel, no destroyed redds. They swim into a processing plant, then we eat them.
When net cages are breached by weather or animals, fish escape and when mature spawn in nearby rivers. This is why we now have atlantic salmon in the Pacific Ocean and rainbow trout (a pacific species) in the Atlantic ocean. We have no idea how this might affect native fish populations because it is an ongoing experiment we have decided to conduct on the fragile ecosystems of this earth.
No waste to dispose of:
In net cage farm practices, excrement, unused food, and chemical residues collect on the ocean floor under the pen. This destroys any marine life in the area. When and if the accumulation causes problems to the operation, they move. Industrial waste disposal is handled by the ocean for free, and many industries take advantage of this fact. Including many city sewage plants.
When you catch a salmon in the ocean, where did it come from? A run of thousands in an untouched northern river? Or perhaps a polluted metropolitan creek, where it was the last surviving member of a now extinct race. It is impossible to tell without tagging or DNA tests. With FRFF, you can be assured the fish being harvested were put there for that specific purpose.
I have great faith in this already proven method. It is so simple. It is cheaper. It produces a higher quality product. It gives us a chance to save the wild stocks. If we could implement this idea on a grand scale, simple economics would force the expensive and unsustainable current practices out of business. Instead of subsidising these industries, governments of the world could help coastal villages to build a future. Poor countries could feed themselves. Instead of taxing the resources of the sea to produce fish for the rich nations, we can restore the health of the waters.
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