According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, 70 percent of the world’s fisheries have been depleted by overfishing. Even as we move towards a greater reliance of aquaculture - providing nearly 50 percent of the fish eaten worldwide – it may not be enough to meet the growing demand. Add to this the fact that fish farming suffers from many of the same problems as industrial livestock operations – the spread of disease and waste – along with carrying the fear that these “cultivated species” could potentially overrun native populations, and we’re facing a scenario with no easy solution.
Unless of course, the idea of swimming, free-range fish farms intrigues you. And what’s more, the reality is not that farm off. Scientists have already developed the technology, updating pre-existing models with propellers that can be operated by remote control. While the immediate challenge is building in a self-sufficient power source – researchers are currently figuring out ways to harness renewable sources like wave, wind or solar – the roaming waterpods could eventually be turned loose to mimic natural systems. This would also enable specific species to live out their life cycles under optimal conditions.
Image credit: Getty Images, lois.siokoski.photography/Flickr
National Geographic explains some of the potential benefits:
The robotic fish farms could help lead to larger, healthier crops of farmed fish far from crowded coastal areas, where farmed fish both suffer from poor water quality and, by producing waste, add to water woes.
This could also lead to one possible future where fish come to the markets themselves, as opposed to large vessels going out to bring them back in. But until that happens, we all need to make a concerted effort to make smarter consumer choices about the kinds of fish we buy and eat. While it’s far from an easy process to get a handle on, as the rules seem to change every day, the Environmental Defense Fund is attempting to remove some of the guesswork, both at their website and with their handy new mobile app.
[via National Geographic]