There has been plenty of recent lively debate surrounding the sustainable levels of fish stocks around the globe, which is why fish farming is so highly relevant and needed in order to meet current and future consumer demands.
An initiative by farmed salmon producers is making significant progress towards meeting that sustainability goal, with the help of some impressive new technology to allow them to produce healthy fish and meet demands in a safe and acceptable way.
Aquaculture is more than just fish farming
Aquaculture is also referred to as aquafarming or simply fish farming, but the process and the philosophy behind the system and procedures, is not just about the fish themselves but also addresses a number of wider issues and requirements.
In general terms, when we are talking about aquaculture, it is the description given to the farming of aquatic freshwater or saltwater organisms, which covers anything from fish such as salmon, to crustaceans, molluscs and even plants that are intended for human consumption or some other use.
Why aquaculture is so important today and why fish farming is needed to meet existing and future consumer demands, is the fact that when you look at EU live fish catch statistics for example, you will witness a downward trend in numbers that has continued year after year.
Catch weight in the EU waters reached a peak of 7.6 million back in 1995, and the last recorded figure was significantly, 37.1% lower than the haul achieved over twenty years ago.
Technological answer to meet demand
Advances in technology have now made it possible to grow food in coastal marine waters and also in the open ocean, using the process widely referred to as aquaculture.
This is a method that has been devised and honed using technological developments, to produce not just the commercial products required to help meet consumer demands, but also to help encourage the restoration of natural habitat and to replenish and rebuild wild stocks so that the populations of endangered and threatened species are given an opportunity to thrive again.
The practice of aquaculture is widespread across the globe and in the U.S for example, the process of marine aquaculture is used to produce a wide variety of species that include shrimp and mussels, as well as black sea bass and salmon, amongst others.
The process of freshwater aquaculture is focused on producing species that are specifically native to our rivers, lakes and streams.
Systems are deployed using technology such as recirculating aquaculture systems, and these are located either in designated ponds or within purpose-built fish farming setups on land.
Innovation continues to help aquaculture to thrive
One example of how the fish farming industry continues to evolve, can be found when you look at the work being done by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).
The SAIC recently announced that they have invested almost £250,000 into a series of projects that are specifically aimed and helping to improve biodiversity as well as improving fish health, through the development of new diagnostic tools.
One area that the technology is focusing on, is creating a method that allows you to assess the health of the fish and achieve a much earlier diagnosis of any problems. This helps in two ways, firstly it helps to shorten the diagnostic period where the fish need to be assessed, to under seven days, and secondly, earlier and more specific diagnosis will reduce the level of veterinary intervention.
This is a significant development, as the current practices used in fish farming that do not involve this technology, can lead to significant losses from a financial perspective, if fish stocks are affected by a disease or illness that is not detected early enough.
It is estimated that using technology for early diagnosis, will not only almost halve the current treatment cycle, but it also offers some significant financial savings.
Learning from human health management
The fundamental driver behind human health management is the measurement of biomarker response in clinical chemistry, and it it this technology that is used to test responses in human cardiac, kidney and liver functions, that is being developed so that it can be applied to fish in the same way.
Being able to assess the health of the fish with such efficiency using this developing technology, will almost certainly help to improve the health and general wellbeing of farmed fish in general.
These are exciting developments for the aquaculture industry and it should mean that thanks to new technology, stock levels are better managed and sustained in the wild too.
Maddison Chan is a fish farmer who enjoys researching and sharing her findings and firsthand experience in the fish farm industry. She is most interested in how technology can assist the industry and often writes about this in her articles.
Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations
Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?
The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.
New Construction Options
One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.
In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.
The Simple Retrofit
From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?
Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.
Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.
In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.
Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.
It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.