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An impassioned defence of the cutting-edge aquaculture systems that are currently being developed was aired on www.ted.com yesterday (11 February).

The talk was delivered by Mike Velings, co-founder of Aqua-Spark – an investment fund set up to support innovative and sustainable aquaculture projects. In it he stresses that – despite the bad press the industry has received from many environmentalists – the continued development of a sustainable global aquaculture industry is vital for the future of the planet’s ever-increasing population.

Indeed, with the global population projected to reach 11 billion by 2100, and wild fisheries pushed to the limits, he cited a sobering study by a team at Anglia Ruskin’s Global Sustainability Institute which stated that “if we don’t change our global food production systems our society might actually collapse in the next 30 years.”

To stave this off imminent dystopia, Mike argues, at least 85m tonnes of additional fish – almost one and a half times the 65 tonnes that are currently provided for human consumption by wild capture fisheries annually – will be needed by 2050.

“It needs to come from farming,” he stresses…“and fish is the most resource efficient animal protein available to human kind, other than insects.”

However, his praise for the industry is by no means unequivocal and he also states that the annual harvest of 30m tonnes of forage fish for the aquaculture industry “is just madness”.

Using the likes of soy, bloodmeal and chicken waste are given equally short shrift by the Dutch entrepreneur, who argues that “salmon is a carnivore and has no way to digest soy” – a statement that salmonid aquafeed manufacturers may well refute.

Instead paints the picture of an aquaculture utopia in which “microbes, micro algae, seaweeds and insects” as the aquafeed ingredients that will sustain fish farmed in closed-containment systems.

It’s a compelling vison but whether his claim that “all these things are possible at a cost that is competitive with what the farmer spends today” can be validated remains to be seen.

To see the full broadcast visit - http://www.ted.com/talks/mike_velings_the_case_for_fish_farming