Land-based aquaculture can sound like a mirage — shrimp farms in the desert, salmon swimming “upstream” in an alpine village tank, tilapia swishing over the plains. And for a long time, ample production of sea delicacies in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) has been more dream than reality. Yet the technology and its innovators steadily have gained momentum and finally may be hitting their tipping point.
The allure of fish grown on land is easy to understand: Like all aquaculture, it reduces demand for wild fish, but unlike with sea-based pens, closed-loop RAS farms (PDF) run no risk of fish escaping to dilute the native gene pool, spread diseases or discharge waste and antibiotics into the wild. RAS farmers have near-full control over growing conditions, so they can optimize for growth and quality. And with its amenability to unlikely locations, RAS can sit near major consumer markets, providing fresh local seafood even when the shore is hundreds of miles away. Read the article.