From The Tico Times Thursday, September 16, 2008- By Shawn Larkin
THE BIG BLUE: The soil of the future is in the ocean
Costa Rica’s biggest and most bioproductive ecosystem, the
offshore open-ocean pelagic, could be a shining blue diamond of economic
productivity with a little management fertilizer.
pelagic or deep-sea fishing already provides big money, but many who
have studied the situation think sustainability is being left out of the
equation. Will Costa Rica’s oceans collapse like a tree stripped of
leaves and fruit, or will it bloom for generations?
refuges, sanctuaries and biological corridors clearly are part of any
blue future. Costa Rica has demonstrated to the world the economic value
of green protected areas, and hopefully we will follow our own lesson
with our marine resources.
But parks are not all the future holds
for our oceans. If history is any indicator, oceanic farming will become
even bigger than the terrestrial kind. The soil of the future is the
If we know anything about the future, it’s that it will be
hungry. By many estimates, more then half the world’s seafood is already
farmed. And more than half the world’s fisheries have collapsed.
future of open-ocean permaculture will be very different from the first
crude attempts at ocean monoculture. As farmers around the world go
green – meaning organic and sustainable – by demand, blue farmers get
the advantage of being able to start off that way. Companies like Kona
Blue Water Farms are already leading the way in sustainable seafood
production. Blue farmers could literally save the world.
Future blue farms might be more like Indian milpas
than monoculture banana plantations: multiple useful species growing in
synergistic harmony, tended to by nearby local communities.
a giant shining blue diamond, bigger than your house, far offshore, out
of sight of land – a giant diamond in the sea, half submerged. A pole
runs from top to bottom. The sides of the diamond are made of a mesh
that keeps fish in but lets water pass through. The waste from the fish
feeds strings of shellfish around the bottom of the diamond. Algae and
other life growing on the shellfish bring in a cloud of little fish that
surround the diamond. Small holes in the mesh let the little fish dart
through, feeding the big fish. And the big fish are harvested as needed.
communities and businesses could tend their own, local blue diamonds.
Other diamonds could be released offshore near the northern or southern
border. With currents, nature and technology doing the work, the
diamonds would get harvested at the other end of the country, full of
fat fish. Sportfishers would increase their catches around the massive
fish-attracting devices, divers and snorkelers would go below for a
look, boats and kayakers would want to go around, guides would be
needed, and even more money and livelihoods would be made.
we could help lead the way to the future of blue farming, applying the
age-old principles of permaculture and sustainability. Many cultures
have sustainably harvested shallow coastal waters since ancient times.
Now is the time to take it farther offshore and farm, as well as
conserve, the big blue.