Grow Baby Grow!
Grow Baby Grow
It is time to rebuild America's Aquaculture industry. The shameful and growing environmental, economic and human disaster caused by the BP oilrig explosion and subsequent oil spill is having wide reaching effects. One of the most significant is on America's seafood supply. Ocean caught seafood depends on clean water. As we watch and listen, billions of dollars of fisheries, shellfish farms and other sources of ocean produced food are being closed, affecting the livelihoods of millions of people. What Americans for the most part don't know is that according the National Marine Fisheries Service, seafood imports from overseas already represent nearly 85 percent of the U.S. seafood supply. The BP spill is just going to make things worse. This is now more than a problem of business and trade imbalances, it is a matter of National Food Security.
There is hope however. The United States once had a thriving Aquaculture (Fish Farming) industry and can once again. Like so many of our enterprises, over the past couple of decades much of it was lost to Asia, and other parts of the world. Even the great catfish farms of the south are suffering the strain. In this case, cheaper & faster is not necessarily better for it has left us vulnerable.
During the 1980's and 90's my state of Arizona also attempted to produce fish using technology invented by ingenious local land farmers with help from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. Farms near the towns of Blue, Safford, Gila Bend, Hyder and on the Gila River and Ak Chin Indian Communities often made double use of their irrigation water to first grow fish, then cotton, alfalfa and citrus. Crops included trout, tilapia, catfish, striped bass, and marine and freshwater shrimp. At one time, Arizona produced more than 1 million pounds of seafood a year. Not much compared to some states, but nothing to sneeze at either. Regrettably, lack of support, inconsistent production, poor marketing and overseas competition put most of them out of business as well.
Now is the time to rebuild and compete! Time and our growing knowledge of sustainability has re-taught us that all that glitters is not gold and there is a great value to local production. We now have new techniques, technologies, processes and procedures to improve our cost effectiveness, water use efficiency and thus sustainability. As we pray once again for the recovery of the Gulf and its people, we must use this opportunity to make the most of what we have and begin to feed ourselves once again. In this circumstance, Drill Baby Drill must make way to Grow Baby Grow!
Green Forward Blog
Monday, May 3, 2010