Though recirculating farming has been developing in the U.S. for more than 30 years, it is not a well-recognized option in the U.S. for food production. This is largely so because U.S. policy priorities for new domestic sources of seafood are almost exclusively focused on development of ocean fish farming and our agriculture system is largely consolidated. Therefore, providing information about the benefits of recirculating farms to the general public, media, and people interested in participating in the industry is critical to developing a movement toward more community oriented recirculating farming.
A number of government agencies, including the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have funding opportunities for farming projects. Stimulating discussion among elected officials and such agencies about allocating support for recirculating farms is critical for this green food production method to grow. Organizing communities to push their elected officials to actively support increased and stable funding for recirculating farming development and research will help achieve this goal.
Research and Training
Recirculating Farms Coalition members are helping to develop better technology and new approaches to recirculating farming. Some of the key focus areas are: alternative feed ingredients, increased energy efficiency, and waste capture.
One of the issues with raising fish in captivity is feeding wild fish to farmed fish. Taking smaller fish from the ocean in large quantities for use in animal and fish feeds leaves less food in the wild for large fish, marine mammals, and birds. Additionally, many coastal communities around the world rely on these same small fish as a key protein source for people. The Recirculating Farms Coalition supports research into alternate fish feed sources. The ideal is to find good protein replacement for the fish that require it that is both economically and ecologically sustainable.
Another priority topic is energy efficiency. Fuel consumption is a major ecological issue, thus for recirculating farms to be truly sustainable, they must be capable of operating on minimal amounts of energy and largely rely on sources like solar, wind and geothermal power or recycled energy like methane gas and previously used vegetable oil to run the farm. Researchers and businesses have simplified recirculating farm systems, and have thereby dramatically lowered energy needs. Alternate sources of power are continually being explored.
The ability to capture, treat and use waste is a significant benefit of recirculating farms. Many researchers and businesses are continuing to establish new methods for dealing with waste, including finding new profitable and environmentally responsible uses for captured waste. Research continues on means to fully utilize all the waste generated from the farms.