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Fish farming an environmentally 'smart choice' for our island

February 7, 2018
Pine Island Eagle

To the editor:

I read with great interest the letter signed by Mr. Tomlinson entitled "Aquaculture for Pine Island."

I strongly support the farming of fish and believe that land-based farming of fish is the trend of the future. The United Nations - Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) projects that food production will need to increase by 70 percent if we are going to meet the population's future demand by 2050. On the other hand, we have a report from the largest NGO in the world (WWF) stating that we are already consuming the equivalence of 1.5 planet earths worth of natural resources. So how are we going to do the former if we are exceeding with the latter?

Fish is an excellent option and the environmentally "smart choice." As Mr. Tomlinson stated in his letter, it takes between 1.2 and 2.0 pounds of feed to produce 1 pound of fish. When you compare the feed requirement of chicken at 2.0 pounds, pork at 4.5 pounds and beef at 10 pounds for 1 pound of beef, you begin to understand why fish farming represents the environmentally smart choice for dinner. It requires less resources to produce 1 pound.

An outstanding criticism of aquaculture is that it is often done in sensitive coastal habitat (read mangrove forest) or open water cage-farming; both of which have environmental impacts on natural, wild populations of fish with possible disease transfer to wild populations and the nutrient enrichment of surrounding waters. By bringing aquaculture onshore you eliminate the negative impacts on the ecosystem.

I have also read that fish farming represents the lowest CO2 emissions when compared to all other center-plate protein farming.

I support that they bring a relatively clean, resource efficient, high value protein industry to my island. Not only will it bring employment and tax revenues, but it demonstrates Pine Island leadership in hosting the environmentally best choice in food industry - perhaps to the point of demonstrating how other communities can follow our example to increase food production in an environmentally sound way.

To do that, we need to change the current zoning status to accommodate, en-courage and welcome this business model of the future into our backyard. We should support that. I'm sure the investors would agree to natural landscaping to mitigate the negative visual impact of a large building. Perhaps the investors would even consider a "tourist trail" within a bio-secured design to not jeopardize their production but allow tours that ultimately raise awareness and educate our community.

I hope our residents reconsider the potential negative aspects and see the positive attributes of the future of responsible production models. And by the way, I am almost positive that current legislation would never allow industrial effluent (with feces and unconsumed feed) to be injected directly into our aquifer without prior remedial treatment!

Augusto Villalon

St. James City



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