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The Future of Fishing? The Future of the Oceans?
Alex Steffen, 18 May 04

The ocean is heavily over-taxed:"Twenty-eight percent of fish stocks worldwide are either overfished or nearing extinction, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization; another 47 percent are near the limits of sustainability," meanwhile demand for fish has been rising and shows no signs of slowing down. Between extreme over-fishing, increasing pollution and climate change, marine conservation biologist Elliot Norse says, the oceans will be "one very wet desert within twenty years."

Wired is running a look at one possible answer: open-ocean aquaculture -- giant robotic fishfarms drifting on the ocean currents. The idea would be to take pressure off natural fisheries by create more economically-efficient ways of feeding the world's appetite for fish.

"The answer lies in aquaculture: increasing the supply of fish by farming them as though they were livestock. Preventing catastrophic overfishing will require aquaculture on an unprecedented scale, and that means forging out into the open ocean. It will demand a shift as dramatic as that of the agricultural Green Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s - a Blue Revolution that is already under way.

"The University of New Hampshire experiment, along with similar installations in countries from Portugal to China, is just the beginning. In the future, ocean ranches will be everywhere, except they'll be vastly bigger and fully automated - and mobile. Launched with lab-bred baby fish, these enormous motorized pens will hitch months-long rides on ocean currents and arrive at their destinations filled with mature animals, fattened and ready for market."

Now, I'm all about a good eco-technological hack. And huge-floating-robo-fishpens may come in handy some day. (It's certainly a nicely packaged concept -- who wouldn't want to be a part of a "Blue Revolution"?)

But this is ultimately a technofix for which we already have a better solution: marine protected areas. Underwater parks. As Ocean Wilderness Network explains, creating marine sanctuaries gives depleted fish stocks time to recover, but currently less than 1% of the ocean is currently protected in any way.

We may one day need open ocean aquaculture - but we need marine sancuatries now.

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One of the most on-target awful warning movies ever made:

Soylent Green.

Everyone remembers this schlocker because of the Dead People Turned Into Crackers bit, but watch it again and listen carefully to Sol (Harry Harrison told Edward G. Robinson that his character was really Harrison as an old man). He rants about the greenhouse effect . . . this, in a 1972 movie!

Charlton Heston's cop character uncovers the people cookie scandal; the real horror is what Sol and his cronies at the research library uncover reading the pilfered Soylent Corp. annual reports:

The oceans are dying.

This, in a 1972 movie.

Posted by: Stefan Jones on 19 May 04



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