Saturday, June 19, 2010 | Categories: Episodes
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Aquaculture - The Future of Farming the Water
Aquaculture is the world's fastest growing food production system, and now rivals wild capture fisheries as a source of the world's seafood. In many ways, you might see this as the logical progression of our shift from hunting and gathering food to domesticating it and growing it ourselves. We first did it on land with agriculture, and now we're doing it in the water. Despite our perception here in Canada, aquaculture is not just salmon, by any means. A huge proportion of the world's aquaculture is seaweed and shellfish. When it comes to fish, most are freshwater species, like carp, which are farmed using traditional methods in Asia that are thousands of years old. Aquaculture has enormous potential to provide even more food to the world's growing population. But it suffers from many of the pitfalls we faced with agriculture, especially when pursued as a large scale, capital-intensive, industrial system. The biggest concerns are environmental, as aquaculture can have impact on wild species and habitat. Fish-farming, in particular, shares many of the problems that land-based high-density animal farms have. Disease and parasites can be a significant problem, as they can spread in high-density fish farms, and there are worries that they might then create problems for wild fish. High-density fish farms also produce high-density fish waste. There are also conflicts over use, as the best sites for fish-farms can be near recreational areas, and fish farming can be perceived as the intrusion of a new industrial activity on natural ocean ecosystems. Researchers are looking for solutions to the technical problems associated with aquaculture, but society is ultimately going to have to decide just whether we're wise enough to domesticate the waters, the way we've domesticated the land.
Appearing in this program are:
Listen to this segment:
Dr. George Leonard
Dr. Thierry Chopin's Lab
Dr. Laura Halfyard
UN FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) Aquaculture Department
Department of Fisheries & Oceans Canada, Aquaculture site
Ocean Conservancy Aquaculture page
World Wildlife Fund Aquaculture Program
Fish for Brains
Apes and humans are similar in many ways, in terms of biology and
behaviour. But one of the key differences is the size of our brains.
Although humans have bigger brains, it has been the subject of great
debate as to why and how that came to be. But a new discovery by Dr.
David Braun, an Archaeologist from the University of Cape Town, has
shed new light on this discussion. Beneath a layer of volcanic ash on
the shore of Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya, he excavated hundreds of
bones, and several thousand stone tools, dating back 1.95 million years.
The site included many catfish bones and at least 15 other fish, as
well as turtle and crocodile, which show signs of having been cut with
the stone tools. It provides the earliest definitive evidence of early
humans butchering and eating aquatic animals. By expanding their diet
to fish and seafood, early humans were adding the fatty acids essential
for brain growth.