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How to feed the world? The solution may be offshore fishing

Experts at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) say the best solution is fish. Of course not freely moored in the seas, but rather grown in offshore fishing facilities. A relatively small area occupying just about 0.025% of the ocean surface covered by these intensive process-production units would be able to cover global consumption. This is the server Nature.

The UCLA idea is one of the most sophisticated. Their study was imprinted by the prestigious journal Nature, which avoids dreaming themes. And the very idea that just enough space to match the size of Lake Michigan is simply attractive to cover global fish consumption . First, however, several figures: The FAO has said in its statistical annual report that in 2016 the consumption threshold of 20 kilograms of fish meat per person or per inhabitant of the planet Earth was exceeded for the first time. There are about 73.8 million tons of fish in the game, which in addition represents a market commodity worth about $ 148 billion.

Not everywhere, the fish are hunted in the same way, and the inhabitants of the seaside area are in the consumption. In many such regions of the world, fish is an essential part of the diet. Two facts are related to the popularity of fish. In many areas where fish are intensively consumed, it is often the only available source of animal protein. The second fact reflects the trend of a healthy lifestyle: seafood in the inland is now more frequent because they are considered not only by nutritionists for healthier ones. Fish are simply big business, with great potential for the future. But the limit of further growth is to overturn or rather to overturn the oceans.

Of those species that are consumed by humans, 57% are now in rehab. Their population numbers are steadily declining. And another 30% of the fish consumed are now either in the acute overfishing phase or, after a significant population decline, they are recovering. And it is from this situation that "exploits" its potential of working from UCLA. It proposes offshore fishing gear as a step that would allow the full recovery of fish stocks in the oceans while not taking the food source . Aquaculture, fish-management systems (and crustaceans) are definitely nothing new.

But the way UCLA people grasp this proven idea is original. Instead of building such facilities in bays, river estuaries, or cramped between islands, they suggest moving fishery equipment to the open sea . Although still on the coast, on the continental shelves, yet at a greater depth. It would also allow the volume of the whole production to increase. But where do you go? Capital and technology are mainly held by Europe and North America. Production in the nearby seas is far from being such.

In addition, fish stocks would encounter a barrier to extra costs associated with compliance with a variety of legislative standards. Fish farms in shallow seas are a rather polluting factor. That's why the team led by Peter Kareva and Rebbec Gentry was looking for a place where the water depth would be reflected in the environmental impact of such large-scale production. They also took into account the biological requirements of 180 species of the most commonly consumed fish. Thanks to them, a number of places appeared from the global map of potential breeding sites. Those contaminated by accidents, within reach of potential pollution from oil platforms or by shipping, are too busy.

The result was quite surprising. Several regions, such as the coasts of Guinea in Africa, Bangladesh in Asia, and South Uruguay, have been "scrapped" . These countries represent the "golden center" of the demanded parameters. And as of doing it mostly lies in the eyes of other countries (if they are not themselves) that are most struggling with the growing population and the problem of feeding the starving. Near countries such as Argentina, Indonesia or India also have the promise of an ideal and stable outlet . The production could be done ideally directly at the point of consumption, and at the same time it could be made by the world's fish producers from the economically weaker countries.

"At first, something like that would have been costly, of course, and classic sea fishing would still play a prime role,"
says Kareiva. "Gradually, however, the pressure on fish stocks in the oceans would cease because fish farms are competitive." The disengaged pace of fish aquaculture would also allow fishermen to adapt to the trend change. "We just need to find another source of protein to saturate the growing human population, but we have overfished the fish population. This study shows that fish farming in the oceans can play a major role in human nutrition, without leading to further degradation of the oceans or translocation of wild fish. "

Author: Radomír Dohnal

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