Incredibly 97% of the world’s water comes from the ocean, and we have not yet unlocked all the ways we can grow food underwater. The ocean covers more than 70% of the surface of our planet, but produces 2% of the world’s food supply. If we could increase this 2% by just 5% or 10% or more, we could feed a majority of the population.
Not only do we need to turn to the ocean for sustainable alternatives to food, but we also need to do it in a way that does not harm the ocean or put a strain on our food industry.
The below chart shows the projected growth of aquaculture, the farming of aquatic animals, production in specific geographical locations.
Currently, aquaculture includes fishing, catching sea animals, and farming sea life in small capsules. However, overfishing is a huge problem. 85% of fisheries are overfished, and the remaining are fishing at the maximum. About 0.97 to 2.7 trillion fish are caught and killed every year from the ocean, not including the millions of fish being farmed. We cannot take more fish or any other sea animals out of the ocean, but we need to produce seafood efficiently.
Why do we need to change the way we produce food now?
Besides the current wasteful aquaculture production, we will need to produce more food by 2050 than we produced in the last 10,000 years. Our population is growing, and we need to meet the demands of the food industry.
By 2050, the world population will be at a staggering 11.2 billion people. Today, the United Nations Food Organization estimates that over 2 billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food. 1 in 9 people does not have access to food. 1 in 3 people suffer from malnutrition. 3.1 million children die every year from malnutrition.
Currently, we cannot feed all the people on the planet, nevermind billions more. Relying on ‘traditional’ agriculture production will break our food industry. Instead, we can utilize a portion of the 97% of water available to grow food underwater. We need to transform the way we produce food.
What is the Problem?
Producing food underwater will alleviate current agriculture challenges we have on land and in the ocean. For example, raising livestock. Raising livestock is the main cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Raising livestock contributes a total of 15% of pollution in our atmosphere.
Overfishing is draining our resources and exhausting the fish in the oceans
Clearly, “normal” aquaculture production strains ocean wildlife. The resulting pollution also weakens the ocean and the ecosystem. This is what’s happening: weakens the ocean and the ecosystem. This is what’s happening:
By 2050, there will be more trash in the ocean than fish. Aquaculture will help restore ocean ecosystems and disrupt food production.
What Is The Solution?
The solution is to grow food underwater, which is essentially an ocean forest. It has the potential to grow as an industry and feed our growing population. Growing food underwater will transform our lives.
Advancements in aquaculture / underwater farming, such as 3D ocean farming, hydroponics, aquaponics, and more, will feed our population by 2050.
3D ocean farming is an underwater garden that grows food in a vertical column. Hydroponics is growing plants in water without soil. Aquaponics is growing fish for consumption.
Aquaculture Will Transform The Food Industry
Food from the ocean will feed our growing population. For example, seaweed is:
- Sustainable. Seaweed increases in numbers by 14% yearly. We will be growing 500 million tons by 2050, boosting the world food supply by 10%. Seaweed also does not require fresh water, no fertilizer, and no land.
- Helping the environment. Seaweed absorbs carbon dioxide from the ocean, making the water less acidic and helping ocean life thrive.
- Farming seaweed in just 5% of the U.S oceans could absorb 10 million tons of Nitrogen and 135 million tons of Carbon.
3D ocean farming will take us even farther than before by growing vegetables underwater.
3D Ocean Farming
3D ocean farming is an underwater garden. It uses an entire column of water to grow restorative species. These species are organisms that help the environment and are healthy to consume. Kelp, mussels, oysters, and clams are grown. Kelp grows in a rope scaffolding system, scallops are in lantern nets, mussels are in socks, and oysters are in cages on the seafloor. By growing food in an underwater garden, we can sustainably produce an abundant supply of food and feed our growing population.
Start-up company, GreenWave, is pioneering the future of 3D ocean farming. GreenWave is working on regenerative ocean farming using polyculture, which is growing many species without any feed, freshwater, or fertilizer. GreenWave is also strengthening our ocean ecosystem and environment. GreenWave continues to transform the future of aquaculture with revolutionary 3D ocean farming techniques.
Overall, 3D ocean farming is a new type of aquaculture technique that can have profound benefits.
Hydroponics is growing plants in water without soil. Soil provides two things for a plant. A stable structure for the plant and a place where the plant roots take nutrients. However, you do not need soil to grow plants. In hydroponics, the plant is in a stable structure, where the plant gets the same nutrients.
Hydroponics also requires less water to grow plants. How? The same water is being used over and over.
Plants that are grown hydroponically require specific nutrients. Nutrients from the air are carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Nutrients from the water are nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, chlorine, and molybdate.
Many companies are working on improving and expanding current hydroponic systems. One of the companies is Nemo’s Garden.
Nemo’s Garden is a company working on utilizing the natural resources already available, such as the ocean and other bodies of water. Nemo’s Garden is the world’s first cultivation of terrestrial crops underwater. They are working on making aquaculture a self-sustainable and eco-friendly alternative for underwater farming. Nemo’s Garden uses hydroponic based farming in biospheres (underwater pods).
Taking hydroponics to space
Biologists and physiologists at NASA are growing plants in one of the most mysterious environments: space. Aerospace plant physiologists at NASA experimented with growing plants on the International Space Station using hydroponic technology because it requires less space and fewer resources than traditional farming. Not only will hydroponics help grow plants on Earth, but hydroponics will also help us expand our knowledge about other planets as well.
Because hydroponics enables us to grow plants without soil, it will greatly improve current farming techniques. There are many applications for hydroponic systems around the world and in space.
Aquaponics is a combination of growing fish and hydroponics.
Aquaculture farms were implemented around the world where water scarcity is a challenge.
While 71% of the Earth is the ocean, only 2.5% of it is fresh water. The amount of freshwater is reducing around the world. Clean water is not the only challenge. The soil quality in many countries is depleted of nutrients and has problems with erosion. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been implementing aquaponic farming in places of need. There are ongoing projects to implement farms in countries around the world.
Aquaponic farms are helping places where growing plants the “normal” way are challenges. Aquaponics uses 1/6th of the water to grow 8 times more food per acre compared to traditional agriculture.
All in all, 3D ocean farming, Hydroponics, and aquaponics are just the beginning of working towards a more sustainable method of aquaculture.
Although advancements in aquaculture are relatively new, they have the potential to improve our food industry. It will help with current agricultural challenges, such as and feeding our growing population without overfishing and harming our natural ecosystems.
- The ocean covers 97% of the Earth, but currently only produces 2% of our food.
- Overfishing results in unbalanced ecosystems, unsustainable food sources, and environmental challenges.
- 3D ocean farming is an ocean garden that grows food.
- Hydroponics grows plants w/o soil.
- Aquaponics utilizes hydroponics to grow fish and plants.
- New advancements in aquaculture will right the wrongs of the food industry.
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Also, stay posted for a follow-up article about cellular aquaculture!