Dumpster Fish the Future of Farming

Allison Guy
January 24th 2012

Cities have seen guerilla gardens, rooftop honey production, and fire escape chicken coops. Now, urban farmers may be adding aquaculture to the mix. Headed by ex-banker Christopher Toole, the Society for Aquaponic Values and Education in the Bronx, New York, raises tilapia in tanks and trashcans. Closed recirculating systems use the waste from the fish to fertilize herbs like mint and basil. Toole and his girlfriend and partner, Anya Pozdeeva, envision a future where neighborhood fish like "Bronx Best Blue Tilapia" become a thriving local industry.

Efforts from Toole and other New York tilapia pioneers like NYU professor Martin P. Schreibman may represent the future of fish. As cities grow, and wild fish stocks dwindle to near-depletion by 2050, the urban production of hardy, freshwater species like the tilapia could be a sustainable way for city-dwellers to have their fish and eat it too. Urban aquaculture faces some steep hurdles before becoming a profitable venture. Similar small-scale city fish farms have flopped over costs and lack of demand. However, there is one bright spot: In China, which has practiced fish farming since 2,000 BC, indoor recirculating aquaculture is doing a booming business.

Photo via Blue Ridge Aquaculture.

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