About Food & Water Watch Food & Water Watch is a nonprot consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We chal - lenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink. Food & Water Watch works with grassroots or - ganizations around the world to create an economically and environmentally viable future. Through research, publicand policymaker education, media and lobbying, we advocate policies that guarantee safe, wholesome food producedin a humane and sustainable manner, and public, rather than private, control of water resources including oceans,rivers and groundwater. Main Ofce 1616 P St. NW, Suite 300 Washington, DC 20036tel: (202) 683-2500fax: (202) [email protected]
www.foodandwaterwatch.orgCopyright © September 2009 by Food & Water Watch. All rights reserved. This report can be viewed or downloaded at www.foodandwaterwatch.org. About the Alliance for Sustainable Aquaculture Alliance for Sustainable Aquaculture (ASA) is a collaborative group of researchers, business owners, non-protorganizations and interested members of the public working to further Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) inthe United States through research, education, legislative work and advocacy. We believe that RAS, closed-loopedand biosecure aquaculture operations, are the best option to meet our country’s need for a clean, green, sustainable,healthy seafood source to supplement our wild sheries. 1616 P St. NW, Suite 300 Washington, DC 20036tel: (202) 683-2500fax: (202) [email protected]
www.foodandwaterwatch.org/asa On the Cover California Ofce 25 Stillman Street, Suite 200San Francisco, CA 94107tel: (415) 293-9900fax: (415) [email protected]
Images rom let to right Methane fame generated rom waste captured by RAS. Photo courtesy o Dr. Yonathan Zohar at UMBI Center O Marine Biotechnology Lettuce and other vegetables growing in RAS aquaponic tanks at UVI. Photo courtesy o Dr. James Rakocy at the University o the Virgin Islands in St. Croix. Shrimp produced in a RAS acility at Blue Ridge Aquaculture. Photo courtesy o Mr. Martin Gardner rom Blue Ridge Aquaculture in Martinsville, VA. Nile tilapia, a species oten produced in RAS.RAS tanks or raising tilapia. Photo courtesy o Dr. Martin Schreibman at Brooklyn College, CUNY, Aquatic ResearchEnvironmental ssessment Center (AREAC) This report is a joint project of the Alliance for Sustainable Aquaculture and Food & Water Watch. Land-Based ReciRcuLating aquacuLtuRe systems a more sustainable approach to aquaculture Table of Contents iv Executive Summary 1 Introduction 1 What Is RAS? 2 Types of RAS: Freshwater and Saltwater 3 Why RAS Can Be an Important Fish Production Method for the United States 4 RAS Factors 8 Research and Development 10 Future Improvements 12 Specifc Commercial Case Studies 13 Conclusion 14 Endnotes Executive Summary This report, Land-Based Recirculating Aquaculture Systems, provides an introduction to Recirculating AquacultureSystems (RAS). RAS are closed-loop sh farming facilities that retain and treat water within the systems. This formof land-based aquaculture is quickly gaining popularity in the United States. Land-Based Recirculating Aquaculture Systems addresses why RAS could be an important method of producing more sh for the United States; highlightsresearch, development and technical innovations in RAS; and discusses concerns and recommendations for thefuture of these systems. Land-Based Recirculating Aquaculture Systems also provides commercial case studies of existing successful RAS operations in the United States.Consumer demand for cleaner, greener, safer seafood is on the rise. Many popular sh, like tuna, cod and certainsnapper are depleted in the wild from many years of poor management, overshing and other ecological problemslike pollution and damage to key habitat areas. There is a need to supplement wild-caught sh to meet consumerdemand for seafood. One method to produce more sh is known broadly as aquaculture — the rearing of aquaticanimals in captivity. Aquaculture is also often called “sh farming,” as it can be likened to the farming of other foodanimals, like chickens, pigs and cattle. Aquaculture is increasing worldwide; between 2004 and 2006 the annualgrowth rate of this industry was 6.1 percent in volume and 11 percent in value. Widespread open-water sh farming methods, such as coastal ponds and open-ocean aquaculture (OOA), can seri - ously damage marine ecosystems and are far from providing the safe and sustainable seafood many consumers want.In particular, OOA — the mass production of sh in huge oating net pens or cages in open ocean waters — raises concerns about consumer safety, pollution of the marine environment and conicts with other ocean uses.Fortunately, RAS can likely provide a cleaner, greener, safer alternative to open-water farms that does not compete with other ocean uses. These systems are usually land-based and reuse virtually all of the water initially put into thesystem. As a result, RAS can reduce the discharge of waste and the need for antibiotics or chemicals used to combatdisease and sh and parasite escapes — all serious concerns raised with open-water aquaculture.RAS provide a diversity of production options. Tilapia, catsh, black seabass, salmon, shrimp, clams and oysters are just a few examples of what can be raised in these systems. RAS can also be operated in tandem with aquaponics — the practice of growing plants using water rather than soil — to produce a variety of herbs, fruits and vegetables suchas basil, okra, lettuce, tomatoes and melons. RAS range from small-scale urban aquaculture systems in individualhomes to larger, commercial-scale farms that can produce sh and produce equaling millions of dollars in sales each year.Currently, research and development is being conducted at academic, government and business facilities across thecountry to continuously improve the techniques and methods used in RAS. With innovations in waste managementsystems, sh feeds and energy usage, RAS has the potential to be a truly safe and sustainable aquaculture industry.In recent years, the U.S. government has been shockingly insistent that development of open-water aquaculture,in particular ocean aquaculture, is the best way to have an increased seafood supply in the United States. Given themany ecological concerns associated with OOA, rather, the United States should be looking to explore more sus - tainable sh production, such as RAS. This report challenges natural resource managers and consumers to be moreactive in helping to promote a cleaner, greener, safer domestic seafood supply by learning more about RAS and re - questing grocery stores and restaurants carry RAS products rather than those from open-water aquaculture systems.