Importance of Natural Resources

Farming the Sea – Full Episode


Major funding for this program was provided
by The Bachelor Foundation, encouraging people to preserve and protect America’s underwater
resources. The oceans were once an abundant resource,
holding what seemed to be a limitless supply of seafood. But today, roughly 80 percent of major marine
fish stocks are either depleted or overfished. The worldwide seafood landings of wild caught
seafood essentially maxed out, in 1990. So at a time when doctors are recommending
we eat more seafood, it’s imperative that we come up with other ways to supply that
seafood than going after the remaining fish in the sea. One solution is to farm fish and crustaceans. Aquaculture is farming the sea, just as agriculture
is farming on land. But just like agriculture, aquaculture can
come at a cost. The issue now is: can we farm it in a way
that does not cause much harm for the marine environment? Is aquaculture the way of the future? Can it help meet the ever-growing demand for
seafood in a sustainable way? The farming of fish and crustaceans is not
a new concept. Aquaculture right now is supplying 35 to 40
percent of the seafood that we eat. But the majority of that seafood doesn’t
come from U.S. waters. Our second largest natural resource trade
deficit is seafood; second only to oil…and that’s just a staggering statistic. Right now, over 80 percent of the seafood
that we eat in this country is imported, and so that seafood is either being caught or
produced in other countries. We know that the inspection process for imported
seafood is very limited. And we know that there is contaminants that
are coming in with that seafood. Foreign aquaculture operations in Asia and
South America have been criticized for using large amounts of antibiotics and other drugs,
creating a potential health risk for the consumer. Others have caused environmental problems. Basically, large areas of mangrove forests
along coastal waters that have been bulldozed to make way for shrimp farms and fish farms. And so you have a choice: you can either have
more aquaculture under strict regulations in this country, or we can continue to buy
seafood from other countries which have a lot less regulations and we know are causing
a lot more pollution. There are many different types of aquaculture,
and much is being done in the United States to make the farming of seafood more environmentally
friendly. In Cedar Key, a small town in Florida’s
Big Bend area, clam farming is big business. Allowing our fishermen to become clam farmers,
has allowed us to continue as a working waterfront. The industry got started in 1994, after the
Florida net ban put many local fishermen out of business. The infrastructure for this new industry came
about through federally funded job retraining programs, placing about 200 fishermen into
the clam farming business. You don’t require expensive waterfront property. You’re leasing coastal submerged lands from
the state of Florida at a fairly nominal fee. Cedar Key is a perfect location for clam farming. The town’s rural character and the lack
of development have kept the local waters of the Gulf of Mexico pollution-free, yet
rich enough in nutrients that the filter-feeding clams need to survive. There’s no such thing as clam chow. In other words, Mother Nature is providing
the food for your crop; and, if you don’t have adequate nutrients and phytoplankton
in the water, you’re going to have limited growth and production. Farming clams from start to finish is a labor-intensive
job, which begins at one of the local hatcheries. You’re looking at hard clams, scientific
name Mercenaria mercenaria, and these are our brood stock clams that we use to spawn
and hatch out new baby clams. The brood stock came from actually a New England
wild clam. Each clam is capable of producing about two
million eggs. In the wild maybe only one or two of those
eggs would become fertilized because nature’s natural selection would eliminate most of
those. In here, we create the ideal conditions for
most of the eggs to become fertilized. So we could get as much as ten or twenty million
fertilized baby clams in just one spawn. This is the very act of domestication; we’re
maximizing nature’s potential. The farmers at hatcheries like Southern Cross
re-create the natural conditions clams need to spawn. After each spawning event, the fertilized
eggs are moved into larvae tanks. There is approximately 11 million baby clam
larvae in that tank as we speak. And, they’re about 40 times smaller than
the naked eye can see. And they’ll sit in there five days to a
week, and they’re swimming around as clam larvae. After about a week or so, they’ll actually
develop a shell and a foot; and, it’s much like a caterpillar in a cocoon becoming a
butterfly. It goes through a metamorphosis, a very critical
stage in their life. And once they do that, they’ll sink to the
bottom of the water column. They are now a hard clam. Clams eat algae, and we grow algae for the
clams. They’re filter feeders. And when they’re this small, we feed them
a specific type of algae that is easier for them to eat. They go through hundreds of gallons of algae
a day. And in order to keep up with their voracious
appetite, we have to grow algae every day. These are approximately one month old. And they’re one millimeter in size. There’s approximately 250,000 clams in this
one silo alone. Once the clams reach a certain size, they
are ready to be moved to silos on a floating dock outside. After they get out of the hatchery, this is
the first time they’re introduced to our wild natural algaes. The water’s pumped right out of the Gulf
here, so they’ll switch over from the food that we’ve made in there to this food,
and we don’t have to feed them anymore. The clams will stay at the floating dock for
several more weeks, until they reach roughly the size of an aspirin tablet. The clams are sieved. The small stuff will fall through; the big
stuff will come down here. The big stuff we’ll take out to the leases
tomorrow. So they’ll be planted out in the wild. This is the final step in the whole nursery
part of the equation. Once they’ve reached this size, the clams
are put into bags and sold to farmers, who will plant them on their leased plots in the
Gulf of Mexico. There’s about 750 acres of state-owned submerged
lands that are dedicated to shellfish aquaculture leases just here in Cedar Key. One of the farmers is Bobby Whitt, who buys
the little clams from a hatchery and then plants them on his lease. Bobby, who leases seven acres from the state,
has been in the clamming business for 14 years. The warm temperatures of the Gulf make the
clams grow faster than they would in New England, and it allows the farmers to plant and harvest
year-round. Bobby says it takes roughly two years for
the clams to grow into a marketable product. It’s typical farming, just like farming
on land. I try to rotate my planting…so I’ve got
something to harvest all the time, which isn’t always easy to do. Once the bags are planted on the bottom, Mother
Nature takes care of the rest. We tout ourselves as a very green industry
and that’s because, we do not have the use of feeds, fertilizers to stimulate any kind
of growth, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides. In fact, these would be detrimental to our
shellfish crop. This is our product before we take them to
the dock. He’s about the first marketable size. They use him for all sorts of clams over pasta and what not, he’s a pasta clam. But our optimum size is more of the one inch
clam, that’s what we’re after; the inch to the inch and eighth roughly. These are more your–your primary marketable
clams would be these. Once again, because they bring the money. Once his clams have grown to market-size,
Bobby can harvest them on demand and take them back to the dock. They’ll get re-washed and tumbled. Then I’ll sort them again as they come out
of the tumbler; and then I’ll look at them one more time before I sell them to the wholesaler. In the early years of the industry, it took
some convincing of the local fishermen to get into the business. I was a net fisherman and after they banned
the nets, I was retrained as a clam farmer. I didn’t have a whole bunch of faith that
it would work. I was a little more positive, most people
were more skeptical. I did like the idea of staying working on
the water because the alternative was to get a job on the hill, of course. So I pursued it because it looked like an
opportunity. It definitely works. Cedar Key is great for it. It’s helped it to retain some of its fishing
heritage, and there’s no doubt that it’s a viable way to make a living. The first ever USDA aquaculture census conducted
in 1998 showed that Florida was one of the leading producers of farm raised hard clams
by volume. And we know form our state surveys that Cedar
Key is one of the dominant production areas. Florida produces about 190 million clams. I think that was based on a 2007 survey, and
it does fluctuate from year to year. That equates to something like 19 million
dollars, dockside. But, that’s not all of the story. We have the hatcheries that produce the seed. We have seamstresses that make the clam bags;
boat builders that specialize in the clam work skiffs, and wholesalers that distribute
statewide and nationwide. So the economic footprint is obviously much
larger than the dockside value. Florida was estimated at something close to
50 million dollars, very important. And, I’m trying to get them washed up real
good. Clamming provides a source of revenue to Cedar
Key and other communities around the state, and it does so without much of a negative
environmental impact. Most of the jobs are out here on the water
so the local governments and the county government is very interested in keeping the water clean
and natural and normal here to support this industry. Clam farming is a dramatic success story,
but it’s built upon one species. And so, we’re basically a monoculture industry. So we are starting to look at what other alternative
species could be cultured alongside the hard clam and offer an alternative marketing opportunity. The northern hard clam culture techniques
used in Florida were originally developed by scientists at Harbor Branch Oceanographic
Institute in Ft. Pierce, on Florida’s east coast. Experts there are now looking at other clam
species which could be commercially harvested. The species that we’re examining right at
now is the sunray Venus clam, Macrocallista nimbosa. This clam is a local species and it was commercially
fished years ago in Florida. We’re in the research phase still. The first couple of years were spent learning
how to breed it. We’ve now moved on to growing it
in the field and we have market-sized clams. These clams have been actually tested
in restaurants and the response back has been very good. So the next part actually is to do research
in the wholesale distribution level. Experts at Harbor Branch’s Aquaculture Development
Park are perfecting techniques for raising everything from Conch to tropical fish. In a study done in conjunction with the U.S.
Department of Agriculture -Agricultural Research Service, scientists are studying ways to make
the raising of pompano for food consumption more economically viable. While freshwater fish aquaculture has been
around for a while, only a few marine fish have been raised commercially in the United
States. Marine fish, in general, is probably the most
up and coming area of aquaculture. One of the things that make it more difficult
to raise marine fish from an egg is that in their early stages, the larvae require live
feeds which need to be grown. These are pompano larvae that are hatching
right now. Starting at Day 2 through approximately Day
17 or so until they’re metamorphosed and change into a juvenile fish, requires a live
feeds. So you have to culture the live feeds, care
for them as you would the larva, and so that adds an extra dimension to the whole scenario
of growing the fish; so, it’s much more difficult. Most freshwater fish that are commercially
cultured, they don’t require live-feed organisms, they’ll feed on dry feeds. Once the pompano reach a certain size, they
too, are ready to be fed commercially available fish meal. It’s very important that we find replacements
for fishmeal and fish oil because we don’t want to be taking a lot of fish out of the
ocean to feed fish on land. A 2006 U.N. report estimates that 35 percent
of the world’s fishmeal is used for aquaculture, leading some to criticize the industry for
adding further pressure to wild fish stocks. Experts with the Agricultural Research Service
are currently evaluating eight alternative feed ingredients for pompano. We have had quite a bit of success with some
soy products. Other things that we’ve been focusing on a
lot are by-products of other industries. And one where we have an abundance of material
that isn’t being utilized as well as it could be is from the poultry processing industry. Cost is a big deal; we think we can substantially
reduce the cost of feed. Also, by tailoring the feeds to meet the animal’s
requirement as closely as possible, we can make the animal more efficient, which reduces
any waste-discharge to the environment. What we’re doing here is what’s called
a digestibility study where we can quantify the nutrients that are going into the animal
and then quantify what’s coming out of the animal; the difference being what’s available
to the animal. We’re hoping that what we do here
eventually will spark an industry. So we’re trying to spend time to go through
all of these problem-solving exercises so the commercial producer doesn’t have to. Aside from developing alternative feeds, the
scientists are also perfecting the use of re-circulating aquaculture systems for marine
fish. There are many benefits to re-circulating
aquaculture systems. They are almost completely self-contained,
and use a lot less water than more traditional methods of farming fish. They also greatly reduce the amount of wastewater
which is discharged into the environment, something that has been a big problem in the
past. Mostly, you see that in other countries. In Japan and Southeast Asia
and certain parts of South America as well where you have very large aquaculture operations
in inshore waters, you do generate very large algal blooms; it does cause a lot of environmental
problems. And indeed, in some cases they generate red
tides which turn then around and kill the fish they’re trying to grow. At the Mote Aquaculture Park in Sarasota, scientists are also looking into ways to raise fish using similar re-circulating systems. We are located 20 miles away from the ocean. The facility makes its own seawater, which
then is used over and over after going through a filtration process to remove the fish waste
and leftover food particles. Re-circulating aquaculture is using different
types of filtration systems to take that water that’s flowing out of the tank and clean
it up so that you can bring it right back into the tank–and we do that using a whole
series of different types of filters; everything from what we call mechanical filtration, where
we remove the solids out of the water, to bio-filtration, where we remove the dissolved
waste products that go into the water. Then, the water will have to go through a
sterilization process where you are removing any types of bacteria organisms, and we do
that w/ ultra-violet light and with ozone. And finally, we’re going to remove the carbon
dioxide and replace it with oxygen. Experts at USDA, Harbor Branch Oceanographic
Institute, and Mote Marine Laboratory are also developing techniques to raise pompano
in lower salinity water, which would make it easier and more cost-effective to raise
these fish inland. The goal of this technology is to be able
to place a farm anywhere in the country. Many people in agriculture are interested
in diversifying from corn production or wheat production and also incorporate fish production
within those operations. And it’s a perfect linkage because you have
the fish that are being produced through aquaculture and you have high-nutrient water coming out
of those fish production environments that then can be used to fertilize plant crops. Re-circulating systems aren’t just
to grow fish for food production. Mote Marine Laboratory and the Harbor Branch
Oceanographic Institute are also members of a statewide network whose goal is to replenish
popular game fish in the wild. Stock enhancement is essentially adding to
a fairly healthy population in order to help take some of the pressure off the wild stocks. Florida likes to consider itself the ‘Fishing
Capital of the World.’ About 39% of all the marine fishing in the
United States happens right here in Florida. Sport fishing in Florida is about a 5 to 6
billion dollar industry. The Stock Enhancement program is overseen
by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. It is a partnership between the FWC and several
private and non-profit organizations. FWC scientists have been rearing red fish,
also known as red drum, at the Stock Enhancement Research Facility in Port Manatee since 1988. For years, the popular sport fish were entirely
raised in ponds, but now the program is transitioning to re-circulating technology. Re-circulating facilities use only 10 percent
of the water a pond requires, and they only take up a tenth of the space. One forty five, one sixty eight. Experts involved in the research say their
goal is to have stock enhancement take place in concert with existing marine fishery management. Sixty one point nine. Between 1988 and 2004 more than 6 million
juvenile redfish have been released in various areas across the state. Once we let the fish go, there are other people
following these fish, tracking their movements, their survival and growth. In order to be able to track the fish, they
are tagged prior to their release. They’re anesthetized. So I’m going to be tagging these with a
coded wire tag, it’s a very small tag that you can use on small fish. You can put it anywhere in their body because
it is so small. And it actually comes on a roll of wire; stainless
steel wire that is then cut into 1 millimeter sections. It has a laser-etched number on it. This is kind of a dummy tag to show you how
the numbers would look on it, and it’s magnetized so we can detect it by that magnetism later
in the field. So we’ve put great efforts into marking
and releasing fish experimentally in pilot releases to understand the effects of release
habitat on survival; the effects of size at release on survival; and, the effects of the
timing of releases on survival; and, the effects of the magnitude of the release. How many fish can a habitat support without
starting to impact other species in a negative way? Keeping close track of the genetics of the
fish is also important. If you’re not careful, you could easily
put inbred fish out into the wild in great numbers, which would then grow up and spawn
with wild fish and that would begin to reduce the genetic diversity of the wild stock. There’s a west coast variety of Red Fish
and an east coast variety of Red fish. So, it’s important to have brood stock that
are from the areas where you’re going to release them. We take a fin clip from the fish, and what
that is it’s like taking a finger print from a human. We’ll send that out and that’s how we
know our genetic diversity; we know who contributed to the spawn and the offspring we released. We’re trying to have as much genetic diversity
per spawn as possible. Keeping close tabs on the health of the farm-raised
fish is also an important part of the program. Scientists have made great strides incorporating
stock enhancement and fisheries management, but much still needs to be learned to make
it cost-effective to release fish on a large scale, and to ensure it has the desired impact. Marine Aquaculture, or Mariculture, has come
a long way since its inception. Six something odd billion of us on the planet
love seafood. I believe it’s the way of the future. Much promising research is being done in Florida
and elsewhere to come up with new and innovative methods to farm raise marine species. There is much at stake for the oceans and
for an ever-growing human population that depends on them. Major funding for this program was provided by The Batchelor Foundation, encouraging people to preserve and protect America’s underwater resources.


Reader Comments

  1. How about using waste from the processing of Asiatic carp, that is starting up as an industry to deal with their numbers in the Mississippi, to make food for the growing of the Pompano fry depicted in this video at 16:05?

  2. How can these people criticize other countries for using antibiotics in food production when the United States of America is the worlds most prolifent beef, pork, and avian meat polluter due to the use of antibiotics in the fattening process . Fucking hipocracy.

  3. spoiler alert this works untill their food is depleted because u set out millions of them on a small area…. same as any other farming were doin

  4. Hello guys! I am very interested this type of farming. I have six hectars of undeveloped fishpond with a lot of clams in it. I want to develop it using your technology. Can you provide me with information on how to start a business with it? Please email me at …[email protected] Thanks ! Franco

  5. The clam farmers don't ad any pesticides, fertilizer or antibiotics.
    Those are added by runoff of land based farming and human activities.

  6. USA is the only country polluting the air, water by testing nuclear weapons atomic weapons in the name of country defense. Don’t say anything about natural and organic product. For example The dome of nuclear debris.

  7. Now I can't do anything in that lease ur fucked ur losing ur freedom too fish wild clams an how about when there's all ready $100,000 dollars worth of clams already there so that guy gets it for a small fee .an u can't commercial fish there for other species of shellfish these sounds alright but if ur in he industry you know what a crock off bull shit this is all this is big money bulling an pushing out the traditional fisherman .an the guy said he was a net fisherman that guy doesn't have a clue.i seen his type got money an looking for something too investe in .bullshit .AQUA FARMING IS THE DEAth OF TRADITIONAL FISHERMAN .

  8. How about using the waist water from pompano to produce algae to feed the oysters which then filter it, or to feed kelp or sea weed like fresh water aquaponics. Is that a possibility?

  9. In Canada,fish farmers rid the fishes waste by having scallops farming below their fishes as scallops are filters feeders,In Western Australia southern regions,oysters farmers growing oysters In inland swimming pools draws in the rich Leeuwin’s current to feeds their succulent oysters,later on,fat juicy mussels appeal by itself and these are world class eating mussels,it’s all in the waters.

  10. I had clammed in Brevard county for 6 years until a rocket blew up and the clams died.The fish would glow at night and they said it was phosphorus in the water.I think it was bs.

  11. YOUR full of SHIT …there is plenty of Fish …no dept of family services …no planned parenthood ….BUT satanic Globalist dumping RADIATION into the SEA and air ….

  12. this is more worthy of our tax funding not the stupid space program  but we need clean feed for these fish not that poison stuff  from the fish farms

  13. All countries trying to buy nuclear plants should divert that finance into this type of food manufacturing plants like what is happening in Florida. Better to enjoy a wonderful fish meal than getting blown up in pieces.

  14. These wackos are off with their numbers. We only know about 10% of the ocean and therefore we do not know what we are depleting.

  15. Use fish water waste from farm fish to grow the soybeans for their food. Stop throwing away the fertilizer.

  16. So the state of FL made it illegal for fishermen to fish in a traditional manor just so they can 'lease' the space to the fishermen to fish in an alternative manor. This is simply theft by the socialists who have infiltrated our republic. This has nothing to do with 'sustainability', because they can simply lower catch limits to make things sustainable without forcing fishermen to pay the criminal socialists in our government to rent the sea! If they are going to force fishermen to farm, then they shouldn't make them pay rent. It's no better than paying protection to the mafia.

  17. There was Algae blooms again last summer in Gulf of Mexico Florida 2018. There were no fish faming in the water. A statement here the cause of it. Not true. Common sense is better.

  18. Let me know when you figure out how to stop FUKASHIMA radiation from getting into our food, then talk to me about it! The oceans are already dying!

  19. aww fuck you,, only way is alge,, motha fucking assholes THIS VIDEO IS TOXIC,,, TAKES ANTIBIOTICS TO SUSTAIN DIS SHT,, ITS COMlp

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