Igar Avrech

The time has come for sustainable aquaculture

About a year ago, the streaming giant Netflix released a documentary about the enormous damage fishing is incurring in the world, called “Seaspiracy.” The film made waves worldwide and caused several celebrities to publicly announce that they were stopping eating fish. It has raised awareness of the many ecological problems associated with ocean fishing, which is destroying unimaginable numbers of sharks, dolphins and whales; putting entire species at risk of extinction; and causing enormous ecological damage to marine vegetation that is vital to the planet’s ecological balance.

On the other hand, with global population growth and dwindling food sources come predictions of a real lack of available protein of adequate quality. The global protein market stands at $2 trillion. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), seafood accounts for 17% of the world’s protein supply – more protein than any other type of animal products, including meat, poultry and eggs.

And indeed, seafood is an important source of protein, but its consumption is not without environmental impacts including negative impacts on marine ecosystems. Fish is considered a particularly healthy protein source, low in fat and rich in essential minerals and fatty acids such as omega-3. Therefore, it is advisable and important to consume seafood, but to do so sustainably. It is not surprising, then, that both the global fish market is in trouble – the need for quality fish is only growing, while the possibility of meeting demand is diminishing.

So how can we meet the growing demand for marine protein? So far, several attempts have been made to circumvent the problem by raising fish in ponds close to the sea. This is an open system that pumps in seawater and discharges accumulated waste into the ocean. The system is not without problems and wastes a lot of energy. The extracted seawater is not sterile, and therefore a risk exists of introducing various diseases that could damage or even destroy the fish. In addition, it pollutes the sea and causes ecological damage.

One innovative solution to the challenges posed by such an open system is based on fish ponds in a completely closed system, in which Pure Blue Fish’s technology specializes. This system uses tap water, into which various minerals are introduced that turn it into seawater. Unlike the old pools, this technology is based on a totally environmentally detached system – no new water flows into the pools, or polluting waste out of them. Water cleanliness is maintained by an advanced technological system of aerobic and anaerobic filters that keep the water constantly clean, and thus also saves water, reduces pollution and ensures high quality fish that grow under optimal conditions free of mercury, microplastics and antibiotics.

In addition, the closed ponds can be established near population centers, thus enabling the supply of fresh fish in up to six hours from pond to plate. This enables the growth of available and healthy protein in places where until now fish cannot be cultivated or caught, and fish have to be imported frozen or consumed when several days old. The production process close to the markets improves the quality of the fish. For the local market, this is a real revolution that will not only upgrade the quality of the protein we consume, but also contribute to reducing the ecological damage associated with any other fishing or cultivation method.

About the Author
Igar Avrech is the Founder and chairman of the Israeli company Pure Blue Fish, which has developed a unique technology for raising fish in closed systems. The company is currently completing the construction of its first fish farm in Israel, and has opened a fundraising round for a new farm in South Carolina.
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