This is what sustainable fishing looks like

Written By: - Date published: 10:10 am, June 15th, 2016 - 119 comments
Categories: climate change, Economy, employment, Environment, farming, food, sustainability - Tags: , , , ,

Suddenly I found myself on the front lines of a climate crisis that had arrived 100 years earlier than expected. For a long time I’d seen climate change only as an environmental issue because environmentalists were always framing it in terms of birds, bears, and bees, but I’m a fisherman. I kill things for a living. I grew up shooting moose out of my kitchen window. I never thought climate change had anything to do with my life. But it does. From my vantage point, climate change is not an environmental issue at all — it’s an economic issue.

The same years my farm was wiped out by hurricanes, 83,000 people lost their jobs in New York City because of flooding, many of those in manufacturing. Unemployment claims doubled in Vermont along the storm’s path, and 80 percent of U.S. farmland was shriveled by drought, driving up food prices for middle and working class families. It turns out there will be no jobs on a dead planet.

This is from a beautiful, lucid, deeply intelligently piece of writing by a traditional working class fisherman about the confluence of climate change and the working life. He has just handed the world a functional, working model of how to make a living, restore ecologies, preserve communities, and mitigate and adapt to climate change. He also demonstrates that not only are jobs and the environment compatible, they are inseparable.

Bren Smith is an ocean farmer and a climate farmer in Long Island Sound, NY, where grows and harvests coastal marine life.

greenwave

 

His business and projects tick multiple sustainability boxes and all the elements are interconnected:

  • Job creation, including via small businesses
  • Feeding the local economy
  • Social justice (food stamps carry double their normal value)
  • New, fairer economic models e.g. open source farming, with small, accessible start up costs
  • Bypassing commodity business models and keeping the power with the producers and their community e.g. seed to harvest to market, and farmer owned co-ops for processing
  • Protecting seed stocks so they can’t be privatised
  • Leasing access and right to farm rather than privatising ‘land’, but also protecting the land from exploitation (if farming isn’t being done sustainably, the lease can be revoked)
  • Ecological restoration using a food production model that enhances other life around the farm
  • Closed loop cycles that reduce inputs to almost zero (sea, land, sea)
  • Climate change mitigation (lowering emissions, sequestering carbon)
  • Replacing fossil fuel industries and jobs with ecologically and climate appropriate technology

Very applicable to a coastal country like New Zealand with significant ocean resources but struggling to manage them sustainably, Smith’s words speak for themselves. Read the full article, but here are some quotes,

If you were to create a network of our ocean farms totaling the size of Washington state, you could feed the planet.

This is zero-input food that requires no fresh water, no fertilizer, no feed, no arid land. It is hands down the most sustainable food on the planet.

 

If you look for my farm from ashore, there’s almost nothing to see, which is a good thing. Our underwater farms have a low aesthetic impact. That’s important because our oceans are beautiful pristine places, and we want to keep them that way. Because the farm is vertical, it has a small footprint. My farm used to be 100 acres; now it’s down to 20 acres, but it produces much more food than before. If you want “small is beautiful,” here it is. We want ocean agriculture to tread lightly.

Our 3D farms are designed to address three major challenges: First, to bring to the table a delicious new seafood plate in this era of overfishing and food insecurity; second, to transform fishermen into restorative ocean farmers; and third, to build the foundation for a new blue-green economy that doesn’t recreate the injustices of the old industrial economy.

 

We envision 3D farms embedded in wind farms, harvesting not only wind but also food, fuel and fertilizers. We envision using shuttered coal plants — like the one closing in Bridgeport, Conn. — for processing animal feed and salt. We want to repurpose the fossil-fuel and fishing industries so that they will protect rather than destroy our oceans.

 

The relationship between farmer and buyer has to go even deeper. Reformatting the food system is going to be costly. It’s going to be complex. Simply using purchasing power will not be enough. Anchor institutions such as hospitals, universities, wholesalers, and retailers have a new role, a new set of responsibilities in the new economy. They have a duty to invest aggressively in our farmers, our infrastructure and our communities. This involves donating a portion of their profits and their endowment to building hatcheries, seafood hubs, logistical and transport systems, incubation, and R&D. This will mean less profit for the private sector and a lower rate of return for universities. But it will also mean more value in terms of social and environmental good. All around us we can see that “business as usual” will not save this planet. It’s time to divest from the old economy and invest in the new.

 

[As always with my posts, no climate change denial or ‘it’s too late to do anything/we’re all going to die anyway’ comments, thanks]

 

119 comments on “This is what sustainable fishing looks like”

  1. Chooky 1

    +100…interesting Post thanks…small is beautiful and quality and sustainable

    …those at the working face often have the best insights for change and what is needed for sustainability…also the best practical solutions

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      …those at the working face often have the best insights for change and what is needed for sustainability…also the best practical solutions

      One of the changes I’d like to see in our society is a change to the way we do research.

      As you say, the people who often have the best ideas are the ones doing the work so why aren’t we looking for ways to find and utilise those ideas?

      Education needs to be seen as a life long endeavour and not just something you do in your youth and then you go to work for the rest of your life.

      If we take these two principles and apply them then what we get is a population that goes to school, goes to work, and then goes back to school. Then repeat. When they go back to school they’re put into research about the work that they’ve done to identify their ideas and see if they’ll work.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Or as Kevin Anderson said in a video of his we watched last night … we all have to try stuff out. We all have to see what things we can do to make a difference. A lot of it won’t work, some will turn out to be mistakes; but we only need a few good ideas to break through and many will be drawn to them.

    The political parties have had 25 years to make a difference and they failed. Failed not just a little bit, but completely, utterly and comprehensively. Expecting them to come good now is just too late.

    Now it is a matter of having the courage to stand up, talk about it, decide what you want to do and get on with it.

    Thanks weka … this example above is perfect.

    • weka 2.1

      “Now it is a matter of having the courage to stand up, talk about it, decide what you want to do and get on with it.”

      This.

      And I think some of the politicians will follow when they see people acting.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      The political parties have had 25 years to make a difference and they failed.

      The political parties have been working to get the failed system of capitalism working. That, inevitably, failed.

      Time to drop the competitive model and go full cooperative.

      • Colonial Viper 2.2.1

        I am thinking along these lines too. Am sick of political parties suggesting that this tweak or that tweak to market capitalism is going to do anything effective.

  3. Richardrawshark 3

    I don’t believe we have any right to kill any living creature. Who gave us the right to kill life? ourselves? the God excuse?

    It’s sad to kill cats, dolphins, pets, so selective humans, ever been to a slaughterhouse, ever heard the animals crying.

    I’m not too keen on seeing my food staring back at me.

    • Bill 3.1

      Seaweed doesn’t stare back (Neither do shellfish, but we’ll leave that aside). Even if you don’t want to eat the seaweed, or the salt that’s harvested, the seaweed harvest can be used for fertiliser.

      You really should have read the link before commenting.

      • Richardrawshark 3.1.1

        Read it again, it was a general statement, not pointed at the post.

        I consider oysters and all shellfish living aware beings.

        Seaweeds seaweed i’m obviously not on about that Bill.

        • weka 3.1.1.1

          [Richard at 3.1.1, I think this is too off topic. If you can relate it to the post somehow (can’t see it myself, but maybe make a sustainability argument) that’s fine, but if you want to debate the ethics of eating animals can you please take it to Open Mike? It’s too likely to derail the conversation here. thanks – weka]

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      Who gave us the right to kill life?

      It may be that sometime in the future we won’t need to but for now we have to kill to live. We need food and the only things that work as food are other living things.

    • Bob 3.3

      “I don’t believe we have any right to kill any living creature”
      So the lives of plants mean less to you because they don’t have eyes? They are still living organisms, you just choose to humanise animals because you can hear them ‘cry’ as you put it, but just because you don’t hear it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen: http://www.wired.com/2013/12/secret-language-of-plants/

      • Richardrawshark 3.3.1

        Grasping for an argument on that. hyperbole, exaggeration.

        Plants, jeez trying to pin me as a nut job mate? come back to reality. I don’t like killing I think we can safely differentiate growing to living.

    • mauī 3.4

      Maybe it’s the price of being human but also a great privilege. You’re integrated with the foodweb. Although if you’re buying something wrapped in plastic, you have to wonder how integrated you are. You probably dont know how the animal was killed, what its life was like or how much of it is wasted. If you don’t know those things then you will probably be disconnected from the environment you’re living in, which is the predominant culture right now.

    • leftie 3.5

      I’m with you Richardrawshark.

  4. Bill 4

    A couple of observations.

    No actual ownership of the farmed area, just the process.
    Leases under local control with potential loss of lease if not farming sustainably.

    That translates easily into a NZ context.

    There’s a lot in there, but it appears to make sense.

    In contrast, I’m somewhat reminded of the atrocious situation I’m aware of where fishing communities knowlingly slashed their own throats to appease banks. They had no choice. As the fish got smaller, the fishers used smaller mesh nets even though they knew it was stupid. And they dumped side catch to maximise the return from their allowable quota. (Sound vaguely familiar?)

    In my life time, 50+ family owned boats, principally landing cod and haddock, reduced to one boat that lands it catch elsewhere. The other boats had to be scuppered in order to get government compensation. Many of those boats had been built in the boat building yards next to the town’s harbour.

    In the end, the boat building, the smoking, the family owned filleting businesses, the fish and the fishing itself…all gone.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Meanwhile corporate fishers pulling in thousands of tonnes of fish per trip, sending much of it off to China.

    • weka 4.2

      Yep, same story again and again (on land too). I thought that one of the things that made Smith’s essay so credible was that he comes from integenerational fishermen, so he knows how bad contemporary fishing is all round.

      • The lost sheep 4.2.1

        Speaking as someone who has been a commercial fisher, and known many fishers over many years, I have to say it doesn’t follow that being an inter generational fisher means your views on sustainability or anything else are automatically ‘credible’.
        Any more than you would grant automatic credibility to everything a multi-generational Dairy farmer, Logger, or Coal miner told you about the state of those industries.
        Self interest, confirmation bias, greed, and out and out denial are factors that can be just as strong a distorting factor in a 5th generation as a first in my experience.

        • weka 4.2.1.1

          I didn’t mean that intergenerational fishing meant he was credible on sustainability, I meant it meant he was credible on the massive problems of commercial fishing (as Bill was describing). He understands those things inside out, which is why when he developped sustainable design skills he was able to apply them well (because he knew what needed to be changed). I agree that not everyone in that situation would get that.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    Good article and good thinking in it. This would be great for use with offshore wind turbines where you couldn’t allow tradition fishing.

    The structure that holds the wind turbines would act as an artificial reef helping to stir up and slow down the nutrients in the sea thus providing food for the sea life there. The harvesting of this type of sea farm would obviously have to be careful* and so won’t be a danger to the turbine structures or the power cables running on the sea floor.

    * IMO, a big part of the problem with traditional ways is that they’re all about ripping the food/fish out as fast as possible with no consideration to the damage that’s done.

    • Chooky 5.1

      +100 DTB

    • Lloyd 5.2

      The Maui off-shore rig has a major problem of mussel accumulation that is solved by regular water-blasting to get rid of them pesky shell-fish.

      Seems to me that an off-shore wind-farm which has been designed with mussel harvesting in mind should be a win-win situation. When you realise that shellfish shells sequester carbon and can be easily stored in concrete or merely by piling them up, it is a win-win-win situation. The sooner the South Taranaki Bight is covered in wind-turbines, the better.

  6. Stuart Munro 6

    Great stuff Weka – the other half, the freshwater half, is the kind of integrated backyard fish farming the New Alchemist’s Institute used to research https://www.amazon.com/Fish-Farming-Your-Solar-Greenhouse/dp/B005U5F6KE?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0 Best conversion rate to high quality protein of any system.

    NZ has amazing fish – but you can’t buy most of it locally, and we sell into the bottom end of nearly every offshore market.

    • Lloyd 6.1

      Most fish-farming practices are harmful to the environment and involve harmful fishing to produce feed for captured fish. Waste from captive fish can build up on the sea floor under the cages.

      Prawn farming in South-East Asia has done terrible damage to mangrove coastal forest. For example following the Sumatran Tsunami, coastal areas of Thailand where prawn farming had been undertaken were much more damaged than those comparable areas where there was no prawn farming

      Only shellfish farming seems capable of being undertaken in a truly sustainable manner and even then there are changes in coastal ecology and currents etc, let alone the restriction of mariners to sail unimpeded across the ocean.

      • Stuart Munro 6.1.1

        Certainly some practices are harmful – but shallow pond fish farms are not intrinsically more harmful than agriculture.

        Shellfish farming appears to have less impact because they filter feed – but saturation levels of farming depress growth across the local tidal area – notably the Marlborough sounds has this problem, and apocryphally snapper populations are falling due to spawn being filter fed – hasn’t depressed spotty populations though. Better are paua farms – high value seaweed eaters that have little impact – a diverse approach like Weka’s example reduces environmental impact, though lantern nets will be polypropylene fibre, which must be factored in.

        Fishing to farm is considered poor practice in aquaculture because it readily spreads disease, and decay can kill farms rapidly either by nitrate/ammonia buildup or by rapidly lowering dissolved oxygen.

        Nothing is perfect – you do the best you can. That said, trawling is not ideal for many species, and a bias towards live capture methods improves landed fish quality and tends to reduce wasteful damage.

        • weka 6.1.1.1

          “but shallow pond fish farms are not intrinsically more harmful than agriculture.”

          Except that agriculture is inherently harmful (conventional agriculture). The point of the post wasn’t to say let’s farm the oceans/salt waters. It was to point to an integrated system that is different from conventional farming of any kind.

          Agree on the net fibres, a problem in need of a solution there. I can point to other shortcomings in his system too, but they look far less of an issue than most conventional systems.

          • Stuart Munro 6.1.1.1.1

            It’s certainly a step in the right direction – the thing with ecological systems is to build biomass and diversity. Soaks up carbon, supports populations of desirable species, gives you the elasticity to make choices.

            Ultimately there are skillbases to develop too – world class sustainable fisheries will not grow out of inactivity or crude extractive systems.

            Of course nothing will be achieved under the current government – we did not reach 1% of Japan’s net fisheries outcomes by accident – this is what you get from truly gross sustained incompetence.

  7. Hmmmm…let’s see, our terrestrial farming practices have taken us to a Very Bad Place so we’ll move offshore and farm the oceans…a bit like making preparations to travel to Mars because we stuffed the Water Planet, isn’t it?
    The first of the on-land farmers probably meant well, but swinging in behind them were the Orcs and look where they’ve landed us. Prising open the coast for more of the same doesn’t excite me at all, feels like doing the same with an oyster to get that pearl! In any case, warmer oceans mean less oxygen and rougher seas. Some of those proposed structures better be very strong, as strong, I hope, as the regulations supporting the proposed systems. Previous well-meaning regulations have proved, how shall I say it, malleable.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Prising open the coast for more of the same doesn’t excite me at all, feels like doing the same with an oyster to get that pearl!

      It’s not more of the same. That’s the whole point.

    • joe90 7.2

      Wastes, escapees, genetic pollution, parasite and disease transfers, impacts on benthic zones – what could possibly go wrong.

      http://www.marbef.org/wiki/Impact_of_fisheries_on_coastal_systems

      • weka 7.2.1

        Can you please put your comment and links in context of the post? A quick look suggests your links are about conventional ocean farming. That’s not what the post is about.

        • joe90 7.2.1.1

          Does high density mixed species aquaculture avoid the issues listed?.

          • weka 7.2.1.1.1

            I don’t know, and would be interested to see some critique of the model, but it seems like an odd question. Why would you assume that restorative ocean farming had those issues when it specifically designs to avoid such things?

            • joe90 7.2.1.1.1.1

              Seems to me the proposal is for a farmers market approach – limited production of high value organic goods and as with existing high value organic produce, beyond the financial reach of the majority.

              • weka

                Not sure about that. Sounds like he is well aware of the issues around boutique markets.

                The second question is how to build the infrastructure needed to ensure that ocean farmers and communities will reap the rewards of the blue-green economy. For too long, farmers and fishermen have been caught in the beggar’s game of selling raw commodities while others soak up the profits; too many of us are locked in the boutique food economy, selling as CSAs and at farmers markets, with the majority of us not making an adequate living and having to hold down multiple jobs to make ends meet. But now, in our unexplored oceans we have a chance to plan ahead and to build an infrastructure in the right way. One of our new farmers, a 65-year-old fisherman, whose family has fished in Rhode Island for 300 years, put it this way: “The last thing we want to do with 3D farming is re-create the fishing industry.”

                If we provide our communities with the right mix of low-cost, open-source infrastructure, our hub will become an engine for job creation and the basis for inventing new industries. It will also be an engine for food justice, a place where we embed good jobs, food access, and nutrition into the structure of ocean agriculture. This means, for example, working with local grassroots groups like CitySeed in New Haven, Conn., to ensure that low-income folks can use food stamps to carry double the value at our Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) and our Beyond Fish retail store. It also means using our hub as a hiring hall where local workers can find jobs on our farms, in our startups, and in our kitchens. If you come to the hub for a job, don’t bring your resumé. We don’t care if you are a former felon or an undocumented immigrant; we’re going to put you to work.

      • Richardrawshark 7.2.2

        You forget climate change and the acidification of the oceans.

        Seeing as I live on a planet with meat eaters though, sustainable resource management includes marine life should always be the first choice in farming far as i’m concerned and it is a good post ..

    • weka 7.3

      Bren Smith lost his more conventional ocean farm to an extreme storm. I think he has a pretty good idea of the environment he is working in in the context of climate change. Just as land farmers should. In fact, I’m not sure that ocean farmers would be inherently worse off than land farmers in terms of extreme weather events. Would be interesting to find that out.

      I agree about regulations, and also the model he is using whereby the model itself can shut down a farm if it’s not being done sustainably. So theoretically that is built in at the start, irrespective of the regulations (which need to be there too).

      I get what you mean about following the orcs, but we still have the dilemma of needing to feed very large numbers of people ie we need to farm intensively to some extent. I’m not sure what the population is where he lives, but it’s not small.

      I don’t see Smith’s system as the perfect answer so much as a bloody good move in the right direction. For instance if his peers are fishing in conventional models that are depleting fishing stocks, then his model gives them an alternate way to make a living and increase biodiversity and produce food much more sustainably and take the pressure off other marine life.

      • ” the model itself can shut down a farm if it’s not being done sustainably.”
        Oh, really?
        Who do you think will be the regulator? The industry? Okey-dokey then.
        How about the local Regional Council? Can they shut down terrestrial farms, over whom they have some powers? Don’t see a lot of that happening, despite the quality of our rivers. The Government, perhaps. Yes, they’ve shut down dozens and dozens of terrestrial farms that aren’t “being done sustainably”, haven’t they?
        So, my question is, who?
        I hope no cowboys are attracted to the aquaculture industry, ’cause, you know, even the dairy men say it’s the cowboys that are ruining it for the Good Dairy Farmers. No ratbags would be drawn to ocean-farming, would they? All sea-going folk are salt of the earth, aye.

        • weka 7.3.1.1

          Instead of repeating history we’re building infrastructure from seed-to-harvest-to-market. We’re starting nonprofit hatcheries so that our farmers can access low-cost seed. We’re creating ocean seed banks so that the Monsantos of the world can’t privatize the source of our food and livelihoods. We cap the price of a sublease at $50 an acre per year so that low-income ocean farmers can access property. But by “property” we do not mean privatization. Our farmers don’t own their patch of ocean; they own only the right to grow shellfish and seaweeds there, which means that anyone can boat, fish, or swim on their farms. I own the process of farming but not the property, and this keeps my farm as shared community space. We’re also building in levers of community control. Leases are up for review every five years so that if I’m farming unsustainably, my rights can be revoked.

          The main essay linked in the post.

          I think your criticisms of mainstream ocean farming are useful. If you want to critique the post or the model it discusses I’d like you to read the main link so you know what I was referring to. The post isn’t about conventional farming, that’s the whole point.

        • Bill 7.3.1.2

          There are definitely possible structures that would ensure management would be of a high order – ie -defaulting to the highest common denominator. Are such management structures being used at present? I don’t know. Could they be developed? Absolutely.

          Without forethought, could it all collapse into a fairly corrupt corporate type model of management? Yup.

          But by applying forethought and putting appropriate structures in place….

        • Jay 7.3.1.3

          That is some top-quality sarcasm right there. (No I’m not being sarcastic)

      • Lloyd 7.3.2

        A good, free birth control program, with the option of abortion, for EVERY woman on the planet would be far more effective in saving the sea than any number of fish farms.

  8. Ad 8

    I would be interested in your views Weka of the Salmon farm debates that occurred over the last few years in the Marlborough Sounds. The Salmon farm proposal that evetually partially succeeded was nowhere near as diverse as this. However it was nevertheless an intensive use of an existing resource, in which there were already many fish farms.

    It was also in a highly sensitive marine environment, and in the end they only got a few of the farms they wanted.

    In light of the proposed changes to the Resource Management Act, should the kinds of farms you propose be made more permissable within the new Bill?

    • weka 8.1

      I’m not familiar with that particular situation Ad, so can’t comment on whether Smiths’ model would be appropriate in that environment.

      I haven’t really had anything to do with them but in general as I understand it conventional salmon farms in NZ are basically factory farming with all that entails. They’re not designed on ecological principles, they’re exploitative, they damage ecosystems, they feed and house fish in such a way that they change the omega oil ratios away from what humans need, and they’re cruel. The economic models used are not about empowering workers and communities, nor creating long term viability. They’re another extractive industry. That probably sounds harsh, but this is how we do conventional farming in NZ. I don’t support more of the same models (hence the post). A big part of the problem for all farming in NZ is that it’s primary purpose is to produce profit not food. That needs to change, and when it does the whole things looks different.

      I don’t know to what extent Bren Smith’s model avoids the cruelty issue, but in other regards his design is very different from factory farming fish. The interconnectedness of the issues and how they are resolving them is a key. Not much point in setting up worker co-ops if you then factory farm GE fish. Not much point in creating ecologically brilliant systems if you need wage slaves to manage them. That’s the beauty of what he is doing I think.

      • Ad 8.1.1

        I was hoping you would say that.
        I didn’t like restricted marine areas getting rolled like that. Neither did the courts.

        There’s a further proposal underway, which I comment on below.

  9. He proposes “a network of ocean farms”. Farming is a cultural expression, the basic tenets of which have brought us to this point. This proposal is mere tweaking. Let’s go into the sea, and farm it! It’s the New Frontier…for farming. Same mindset, same culture wrapped in New Speak:
    “From my vantage point, climate change is not an environmental issue at all — it’s an economic issue.”
    I see.
    Someone who sees the world through the lens,”economy” is surely going to ensure that Nature is treated the way she deserves, as evidenced by the glorious state our economic wizards have created for us today. I wonder what his reaction would be, if sharks, seals, otters, whatever, discover how tasty his farmed seafood is and move in to harvest some for themselves. If the actions of our own fisher-folk are any indication, we’ll see the same ol’ culture flex its muscle and no doubt their actions will be condoned by the Federated Sea Farmers. Genetically-engineered ocean organisms will be on the menu as well, given terrestrial farming’s strong push for those now. What a glorious future is proposed here!
    Still, I’d enjoy the chance to hear about any particular detail of his proposal that you, Draco, believe to be of value. I like to consider these things deeply.

    • weka 9.1

      I take you didn’t read his essay Robert? He is clearly marrying economics and ecology. Nor is his model something that Fed Farmers would support.

      Not sure why he would be interested in GE organisms any more than any other regenag farmer.

      • You are right, weka, but now I have and it’s true, he’s done some great thinking and work. If he stays Benevolent Dictator of the Seas, I’d back the ideas. But he won’t and those concerns I expressed will apply. That said, it’s a brighter prospect than the status quo, so all power to him.

        • weka 9.1.1.1

          “But he won’t and those concerns I expressed will apply”

          Those are good points and he may be naive in that respect. If we imagine such a project in NZ, how might that work? If the person setting it up put conditions on use of the model eg that it can’t be corrupted or you lose your licence to use the model, that would control it to an extent. But there will be other people who will see people making a living and who will set up their own model that superficially looks good but is missing the core ethos and thus becomes like all the other problems. In that sense yes it would need regulation, and the way NZ is at the moment that’s unlikely. But I don’t think Smith or a local equivalent can be held responsible for those bigger picture problems. I guess there is still the argument that he is opening a path for people to exploit, but if we are already factory farming fish in marine environments isn’t the path already open?

          • Robert Guyton 9.1.1.1.1

            Paua fishers are generally pretty good at policing “their” patches – you wouldn’t want to be the interloper, but that’s a different control mechanism altogether. Should we farm the oceans at all, given that we have enormous stretches of land available to us now? How about we manage the land better and leave the oceans alone, aside from the plunder harvesting that takes place already (try managing that kettle of fish, at your peril). It’s the same old slash and burn mentality, dressed up prettily by an ex-pirate by his own admission, who has seen a light. All credit to him, but the basic principle here is unsound (pun). Expanding into new farm”land”? I have great mataitai (pun).

            • weka 9.1.1.1.1.2

              I don’t think he is breaking new ground though, so to speak, I think he is talking about places where humans are already having an impact. So in NZ, Dunedin Harbour, yes. Breaksea Sound, no. I can think of many places around NZ where no-one should be developing ocean farms.

              I get where you are coming from, and it’s one of the reasons why I’ve not been keen on offshore windfarms in the past. One of the things that I find convincing about his argument is the jobs integrated into the environment integrated into the local economy thing. He has come up with a model that he thinks works in his rohe, and the people that live there should make the decision about that I guess. It’s true that I wouldn’t want to see the NZ coast exploited, but there are places where we already have large impacts, so why not restore them to also provide for humans?

              Would you ban fishing out of Riverton or Bluff? Do you think it better that those people carry on as they are or transition to the Greenwave model? If they are banned (or the fishing stocks collapse) should they all become farmers? Freezing workers? How can we stop overfishing if we don’t provide other models?

              • Ban?
                Not me. I’m in no position.
                Stop over-fishing?
                We can’t, you and I. The fishing model is as destructive as the industrial farming model, in my view, and just as entrenched. It’s the culture of ‘extract without replace’ that’s causing the issue, the story those ‘farmers of land and sea’ operate in has to be supplanted. This looks like tweaking to me, appealing though parts of it sound.
                I’m interested in your, “the people who live there must decide” idea.
                What if (looking for possible exploitation) those who live there, are fishermen of the sort he worked with in his earlier life. Would their collective desires result in a win for the environment, given their past behaviours? Likewise, should the farmers living in a catchment decide on the level at which their water quality is to be set, remembering that they may have a different view about what rivers are for than the rest of the district, which might be a town.

                • weka

                  I didn’t mean you personally, I meant what would you want to see happen?

                  Can you please point to what it is about Smith’s model that is extract without replace?


                  I’m interested in your, “the people who live there must decide” idea.
                  What if (looking for possible exploitation) those who live there, are fishermen of the sort he worked with in his earlier life. Would their collective desires result in a win for the environment, given their past behaviours? Likewise, should the farmers living in a catchment decide on the level at which their water quality is to be set, remembering that they may have a different view about what rivers are for than the rest of the district, which might be a town.

                  No reason you can’t have national standards as well. But we already have exploitation, so if the idea of locals making decisions like whether they have a windfarm or an ocean farm doesn’t appeal, how would you see decisions best being made?

    • Bill 9.2

      Not that I’m very knowledgeable on these sort on these things, but isn’t the ‘greenwaves’ thing a sort of parallel to permaculture? Isn’t it the same approach, but taking place in the ocean and sea rather than on land? Don’t both attempt to achieve a sort of stewardship and offer an alternative to mono-cultural, destructive industrial farming techniques?

      From what I read, there’s no provision for fish cages and what not, and much as I might criticise it from a market abolitionist perspective, the fact that the people involved are making money seems no different from perma-culturists making money from the sale of their produce.

      Given the produce being grown (shellfish and seaweed), I can’t see sharks being an issue. I think I might be right in saying that seals don’t eat shellfish either. Otters, sure. But again, is that any different to a permaculturist dealing (however intelligently or stupidly) with the potential predations of possums, rats and mice, birds etc?

      I admit to being a tad confused by the dismissiveness of your comments. I’d have thought you’d be elevating the positives (no trawling, no cages, no over stocking, the creation of a balance….)

      • weka 9.2.1

        Smith claims that the biodiversity around the farms increases, so they’re probably providing food for other species.

      • Fair enough, Bill, apologies for my dismissiveness, and yes, it does have a parallel to permaculture, although it shares some of the problems of that system as well. My reservations are similar to those I have for some activities that come under the permaculture umbrella and they are to do with infrastructure and intent. Oysters, as a food to save humankind? Something’s amiss there. Algae, sure, that sounds appropriate, but for biofuel? Hmmmm. There are good ideas and intentions in there, but the model is still proto-industrial, in my view, or at least very, very vulnerable to takeover by the sea-orcs (if we could have 10 000 oyster cages, instead of 100, think of the profit we could make!!!).

  10. Ad, the Marlborough salmon farms are dead in the water. ‘parently the water’s too warm. Now they’re eyeing-up Fiordland. Classy. (excuse the hyperbole, please)

    • Ad 10.1

      Hence the question as a legal principle, rather than an investment decision.

    • mac1 10.2

      http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/268758/nz-king-salmon-may-have-to-close-farm June 15 2016.

      Salmon that die from water temperature causes are processed into non-human end products.

      A 2014 article in the Marlborough Express on the same topic said that fish farms might well turn to other fish species such as groper or kingfish, if water warming continued.

    • dukeofurl 10.3

      Salmon apparently need very high concentrations of dissolved oxygen around the 11-12mg/L level. Especially at the hatching fingerling stage

      “For salmon and trout eggs, dissolved oxygen levels below 11 mg/L will delay their hatching, and below 8 mg/L will impair their growth and lower their survival rates.
      When dissolved oxygen falls below 6 mg/L (considered normal for most other fish), the vast majority of trout and salmon eggs will die. ”

      http://www.fondriest.com/environmental-measurements/parameters/water-quality/dissolved-oxygen/

      • weka 10.3.1

        [Dukeofurl at 11.3, you are not welcome in this thread until you go back an address this /official-climate-change-fraud/#comment-1188701 and this /official-climate-change-fraud/#comment-1188568 either in that thread or OM, not here. There are consequences for making misleading statements about authors. Only warning – weka]

        [lprent: You should be able to write notes and edits directly on comments that are in your posts. You should also be able to do direct shunts to OpenMike ( and I see you have been doing that – should have looked first ).

        In the meantime, I’ll add DoU to the auto-moderation queue just to be sure. It makes it easier to trap comments before they appear. Just look at the “Pending” in the comments listing.

        Oh and that is a good interesting post. The Kaipara would probably be a pretty good site. ]

  11. Imho, National will over-ride the RMA in order to give the nascent aquaculture industry the “farms” it needs. Presently, CEO’s Mayors and Local Government Chairpeople from around the country are visiting Norway to view be inculcated into the Way of Fish Farming, all paid for by…the aquaculture industry, generous souls.

  12. Stuart Munro 12

    There are a few aquacultural things NZ is doing well already – Kypros (United Fisheries) has a rather impressive box culture technique for Pacific oysters for example – but we don’t seem to have any work like the Australian leguminous fed perch culture. There is a good machobian prawn thing at Wairaki too.

    The east coast of the south island would benefit from some artificial reefs and macrocystis establisment – as would any of the areas deforested by kina grazing since the crayfish boom.

  13. What will an acidic ocean do to oyster, scallop and mussel shells, I wonder?
    That leaves kelp and salt.

    • joe90 13.1

      That leaves kelp and salt

      And limited flat water cold enough to grow kelp.

      • Robert Guyton 13.1.1

        New Zealand’s kelp beds, btw, are much diminished, due to the muck that flows down the rivers and out into the kelp beds. Even in pristine Southland, the traditional kelp beds, from which the bull kelp used to make poha titi was harvested, are all but gone. So, in the NZ situation, looks like we’re gonna be salt farmers. Salt is nice on vegetables. Hey! How about…

    • Stuart Munro 13.2

      The acidification is mostly dissolved CO2 – algae love it – hence reforesting macrocystis habitats. It grows fast too.

      • Robert Guyton 13.2.1

        Undaria will be in clover

        • Stuart Munro 13.2.1.1

          Well it’s another – we can’t contain it – so harvest it. Seaweeds are a good product for NZ, we harvested them in WW2, why not now? & they’re the base of many inshore foodchains. The decimation of coastal weed has not been a good thing.

  14. So, any way, octopuses and squid will rule the oceans soon. They like to eat shellfish.
    Then there’s the jellyfish issue. Aquaculturalists dread them and the icky things are not losing ground as a result of warming oceans, not losing ground at all. I guess though, if you’ve invested in aquacultural infrastructure, you’ll be justified and supported by an economy-focused Government, to take steps to rid the oceans of such threats, in the same way farmers can call time on possums, dreaded TB carriers that they reputedly are, and other organisms that might like to live in their country of origin (we don’t see a lot of tutu on our southern farms). A good dose of Aquatic 1080 would do the trick, I imagine. Same old.

  15. Ad 15

    Another example for your comment Weka.

    In Opotiki there’s this tiny little harbor. It’s a really undeveloped and poor area. Tonnes of Maori in the area.

    Since the early 2000s they’ve had this idea of a massive floating mussel farm in the ocean. Major deprivation area, and stuff-all opportunities for local young people.

    To do it they need to basically rebuild the little harbor, get a navigable approach through it, generate a company that can form a factory for processing, and of course form a massive mussel farm in the ocean.

    The harbor part of it is called the Opotiki Harbour Development Project.
    It got about $30k worth of seed funding from Jim Anderton way back in 2004.
    It got $3m from Stephen Joyce to get the local council to partner up and get the harbor reconstruction happening.
    It’s got a lot of support through the council, and you can read about it here:
    http://www.bayofconnections.com
    That’s the regional growth study that spells out what is really likely, and what they can do with what they have down there.

    And of course, it’s instigated by Maori, through Whakatohea Mussels (Opotiki) Ltd.

    Granted, it’s not the Waterworld version of socialism.

    But this initiative is local, Maori, supported by both Labour and National, and local government, and is of course in a dirt poor area. And, this one is really happening.

    What do we think?

    • dukeofurl 15.1

      The Trust has bought a specialized mussell farm boat. But my reading of the harbour improvement proposal is that its primarily designed for large scale recreational boating. They are thinking of 100+ boats. This scale would mostly mean a large marina. With twin moles at the harbour mouth to maintain a navigable depth.

      • Ad 15.1.1

        Have a look at the MBIE rationale for the $3m in CAPEX: the harbour rebuild is precisely to support the proposed fishery. Thie links will be on the beehive website.

        It’s taken over a decade to get this far, in such a forgotten little region, and getting local capital, iwi, and state support together for something as sustainable as mussel farming, is to me something worth supporting.

    • Stuart Munro 15.2

      Mussels are on the low end of value return for feed – they are the reason NZ has among the lowest per kilo returns on seafood in the world. A more diversified product mix or an end product more desirable than cooked frozen halfshell are necessary if NZ is to get good returns. Live is probably better.

    • weka 15.3

      Ad, it doesn’t appear to tick many boxes in terms of sustainability design (not even close), and it appears to be both majorly altering the landscape and doing monoculture, extractive industry designed to make profit not create food and livelihood. So from that perspective it doesn’t look good. I get that people are working within a system to do the best they can with what is available, but that’s a different thing.

      btw, undevelopped is a good thing from a sustainability perspective. It shouldn’t be seen as an inherent negative.

  16. save nz 16

    +100 Weka – great post. Really nice to see solutions being piloted around the world.

  17. The lost sheep 17

    If you have areas that are…
    a. Sheltered,
    b. Have lots of seawater movement in and out,
    c. Do not currently contain developed eco-systems of intrinsic value,
    d. Do not currently have high human usage or aesthetic values.
    d. Have an economic proximity to consumers.
    e. Have room to space farms at sustainable levels…
    Under those circumstances Brens plan has much merit, and well worth seeing how it works in practice. if it is viable, surely people will take it up?

    But if any of those conditions above are not met the situation becomes far less simple on both a human and environmental level.
    Where are those places then? My pick is the potential in Aotearoa is very limited, and world wide it is far less simplistic than his ‘just an area the size of Washington state and you would feed the world’!

    • Ad 17.1

      Best Salmon I’ve had is farmed off Stewart Island.

      • Robert Guyton 17.1.1

        The pink colour in their flesh is fake; the result of synthetic colouring in their feed.

        • Colonial Viper 17.1.1.1

          eeeeeew

          does it colour our meat when we eat it?

          • Stuart Munro 17.1.1.1.1

            beta carotines – nothing to worry about – what makes shrimp red & carrots orange. Not like the crap they put in eggs.

            • Colonial Viper 17.1.1.1.1.1

              Chur

              • ’cause this salmon ain’t eating what they would in the wild. In fact, if Stuart’s suggestion is correct, they’re getting ‘seconds’, ‘thirds’ even, from the slaughterhouses, so I wouldn’t be too casual about the fact that their flesh would be the colour of a cadaver, were it not for the colouring agent. They are tricking you, Colonial Viper, when you sit down to eat your fillet o farmed salmon, into thinking it looks good’n’natural.

      • weka 17.1.2

        Is the Stewart Island farm different than the proposed Marlborough ones?

        • Stuart Munro 17.1.2.1

          They are likely both based on Chilean models – where the expert managers were brought in from for the Stewart Island farm at least.

    • ” Do not currently contain developed eco-systems of intrinsic value ”

      You’d hope that would preclude aquafarming, wouldn’t you. Odd then, that the fiords of Fiordland have recently been assessed for their aquaculture potential. Surely they could have saved their effort and cost by listening to The lost sheep.

      • The lost sheep 17.2.1

        I believe one of your local MP’s is very keen on seeing aqua farming established in the currently ‘unproductive, under-utilized, and unseen’ remote areas of Fiordland and Rakiura Robert?
        I don’t pick up any serious support for her enthusiasm in the places that count.
        Besides, over our dead bodies eh?

        • Robert Guyton 17.2.1.1

          There’s considerable support, apparently, for aquaculture in Southland, if you believe the scoping poll the industry did. Certainly the local economic-magnifyers like the SoRDs group are gung-ho! Plenty on the councils too, are cock-a-hoop about the “opportunity”.

          • Stuart Munro 17.2.1.1.1

            Some years ago the golden aquacultural goose was a deepwater model for mussels – the feed, dissolved oxygen and current available outside sheltered waters being vastly greater than in sheltered waters. But relatively little has been heard since. A benthic model for oysters and scallops would probably be much more practical, and on sediment bottoms have some value as habitat for species not cultured. Benthic models receive less tidal stress and do not interfere with navigation or aethetic features like views.

            But both of these cultures are fully developed, albeit not in NZ. The challenge lies in expanding the diversity of cultural approaches – sea lettuce for Gim/Nori, local crustacea, small pelagic species like anchovy or yellow eyed mullet.

            Of course proper product development for abundant but disparaged species like cartilaginous fishes is also overdue – they are preferred species in some countries and should not be wasted.

            • Robert Guyton 17.2.1.1.1.1

              Your ideas are innovative, Stuart. Sadly, all we hear about here is salmon.
              As to sharks, skates and so on, I hear bad stories about shark-finning in our waters, so wonder how those populations are faring.

              • Stuart Munro

                Conservative government – no imagination or education. Peasants really.

                We’re a world skate capital – even our Orca have learned to eat them – they’re awesome sashimi done right. But the average kiwi stops at sushi & never tried sashimi. Spiny dogfish are the curse of trawlermen – but smoked they’re great, and Algerica and Morocco consider them delicacies.

                I was very passionate about fishing – but NZ companies only wanted minders for slave fishermen – not really my thing.

    • weka 17.3

      I agree those are good points. If we rule out Fiordland and most of the Marlborough Sounds, what does that leave us with? Harbours? Sounds already in use? Sheltered bays? Inlets/estuaries? South Dunedin*?

      The point about sustainable design is that you take the principles and develop them within the local system. So you don’t recreate the system from Long Island Sound by dropping it into somewhere in NZ. You find the appropriate places in NZ and you design based on what those places actually are (eg shallower, or different kinds of marine life).

      *there’s a post in me somewhere about how to redevelop South Dunedin as a wetland food production and recreation reserve.

      • The lost sheep 17.3.1

        As far as Aotearoa goes Weka, there just isn’t very much ‘easy’ territory left that fits the conditions above – if any. If there was, it would have been developed at some stage over the last 30 years or so.
        Dunedin Harbour is an extremely small area in terms of area, but In Asia, and Japan in particular, there is quite a bit of land based aqua culture based on water moved from the sea.
        Perhaps that would be an ideal way of re-developing South Dunedin’s aging and ecologically unsustainable housing?

        • weka 17.3.1.1

          “Dunedin Harbour is an extremely small area in terms of area”

          Small for what? Are you saying that nothing can be done there? Or do you mean you can’t put a big commercial farm there? In which case I think you missed the point.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 17.3.1.1.1

            I think Sheep’s point is the same one they always make: a nullity.

        • Stuart Munro 17.3.1.2

          There were at one time fifty boats fishing Dunedin harbour.

          A few fisheries could easily be revived there, though it’s proximity to city and university really make it ideal for trialling new cultural practices.

          the obvious ones are shellfish
          live octopus (small like they eat them in Asia or the Med)
          shrimp and mantis shrimp
          flatfish

          and related industries like nakjeon chilgi, http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0252.html
          cultured pearls and so forth.

          • weka 17.3.1.2.1

            It also has a marine lab from the university, on the Peninsula.

          • Bill 17.3.1.2.2

            Otago harbour is really, really shallow. It only averages a depth of a few meters/ several feet. When the tide’s out, it’s ‘sand bar’ city. So…vertical farming?

            It’s also quite warm and… well, originally sewage used to be dropped in the upper harbour, but wouldn’t wash out to sea before the next tide washed it right on back to the city’ shoreline – hence the original development of Lawyer’s Head sewage outlet and kind of suggestive of a slow turnover for nutrient replenishment.

            About 21 fishing boats berth in the harbour. There are seagrass beds that flounder use for spawning…once upon a time they could be quite large apparently.

  18. b waghorn 18

    Hell of a better idea than going and catching large quantities of less popular fish to feed trendy fish.

  19. Mostly, they’re fed soy. Unpopular fish are fed to cows. Now there’s a sorry tale. (Might not be entirely correct).

    • Stuart Munro 19.1

      Increasingly fish based feed fractions are being replaced with GE soy lysine – fishmeal is expensive.

  20. And could that soy come from ge soy crops, Stuart?

    • Stuart Munro 20.1

      It’s one of the saner uses of the technology. Lysine is a growth rate limiting protein for many land mammals – but not terribly different to other proteins. Soybeans were GE’d for it early on – not crazy shit like terminator genes or Roundup resistance. Mind, the Aussie legume work semicooks vegetable protein and lets fish do the conversion – no GE.

      • Robert Guyton 20.1.1

        Saner is better. Chances are we’d choose the cheaper option and if that’s the ge soy, soy be it. Little chance that feed would be grown in NZ then, That’s not good business. In any case, we’re talking salmon – who gets to eat those anyway? Feed the world across a table in a restaurant., will you have wine with that, sir?

        • Stuart Munro 20.1.1.1

          NZ salmon farms usually get a moist pellet feed – not sure who makes it but it may well be a freezing works byproduct.

          • Robert Guyton 20.1.1.1.1

            “freezing works byproduct” – hope it’s tested for cadmium. Offal from animals over 2 years of age can’t be exported because of cadmium. Goes to local pet food manufacturers and … salmon farms? Speculating.

  21. b waghorn 21

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_reefs_in_Japan

    Another option is reefs. I know for a fact due to long hours of catching bugger all that their a large ocean deserts around nz.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_reef

    Just don’t use tyres. We’ve currently got a 100 or so obsolete rail cars messing up the Taumarunui rail yard that might work.

  22. vto 23

    good shit weka, thanks for highlighting this

    awesome

    of course it will be the greens and left wing types who pick such ideas up and forge the way for the masses to follow later

    the conservatives will, as always, sit back and criticise and make weak excuses for their weak leadership skills and weak life outlooks….. then pick it up, agree, and run with it

    silly silly conservatives, never look to them for the future….

    always follow the hippies

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