For decades environmentalists have fought to save our oceans from the perils of over fishing, climate change, and pollution. All noble efforts — but what if environmentalists have it backwards? What if the question is not how to save the oceans, but how the oceans can save us? That is what a growing network of scientists, ocean farmers, and environmentalists around the world is trying to figure out.
With nearly 90 percent of large fish stocks threatened by over-fishing and 3.5 billion people dependent on the seas as their primary food source, these ocean farming advocates have concluded that aquaculture is here to stay.
As we search for new solutions, we cannot afford to repeat the errors made on land, subsidizing industrial-scale factory farms at the expense of environmental and food quality. Simply substituting destructive fishing fleets with destructive fish farms will only hasten the demise of our oceans.
Instead, we can learn from our mistakes and chart a new course guided by principles of sustainability and meeting social needs. This means dedicating portions of ocean to farming — while reserving large swaths for marine conservation parks. And rather than building sprawling ocean factories, we need create decentralized networks of small-scale food and energy farms growing food, generating power, and creating jobs for local communities. While no panacea, ocean farming — carefully conceived — could be a vital part of reversing course and building a greener future.
All of us who hold dear the deep blue sea need to confront the brutal reality that if we ignore the largest environmental crisis of our generation, our wild oceans will be dead oceans.
Article by Brendan Smith was originally published @ The Atlantic ( )