How Israel Can Help Stem Over-Fishing In The South China Sea

For years, fishermen have used fish farming, or aquaculture, to help them cope with geopolitical disputes, dwindling fish supplies, pollution, and weather. But farms bring challenges of their own. Until recently, they had to be located near the ocean because waste had to be channeled out and the fish resupplied with fresh seawater. Over time, however, waste byproducts dumped into the ocean, primarily nitrogen, made the area uninhabitable for other marine life. Consequently, many countries limited the use of fish farms or banned them entirely. But experts see fish farms as among the few technological solutions to over-fishing.

Innovators have tried building fish farms with embedded treatment systems, but until recently, all produced fish that were far more expensive than ocean-caught fish or had adverse environmental effects because of pollution.

Almost 25 years ago, Hebrew University Professor Jaap Van Rijn invented a solution: "zero-discharge" fish farming, an entirely self-contained, recirculating aquaculture system that did not emit waste. Van Rijn sought a way to treat water using biological filters and specially grown bacteria to consume fish fecal matter. Experts called it impossible.

Yet Van Rijn's idea has inspired an innovative industry. His solution has been tested extensively and proven to work with extremely limited amounts of water, without harming the environment. Large Jacuzzi-like tanks are filled with water, and fish are added. Next, his specially created microbes, which treat the fish waste and nitrogen, are mixed in. Only evaporated water is replaced. This allows fish to grow to full maturation and remain in the tanks until they are sold or eaten. The system is efficient, yields no pollution and can be set up anywhere. No additives or potentially carcinogenic antibiotics are used. Van Rijn's innovation provides a viable fish farm alternative without any of the harmful consequences.

Today, only about two-dozen land-based recirculating farms around the globe grow salmon, trout, and steelhead fish. A variety of governmental and non-governmental agencies have an important role to play in ensuring more ventures adopt this technology.

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Janice W McNair 1 year ago Member's comment

Really knowledgeable information about disputes in the south china sea.