Regional e-Notes: September Letter from the Director
For the last several years, CTSA has been working closely with researchers in our region to look for under-utilized agriculture by-products, and/or waste products generated from food processing, that can be converted to usable ingredients for aquatic feed. Recent discussions in the media about the impacts of agriculture waste on our environment have prompted me to think about the ways that we can and should be utilizing “waste.” Many aquaculture practices in use today emphasize disposing waste instead of recapturing the nutrients found inside; this results in a lost opportunity to reuse those valuable resources. I am reminded of the famous quote by French chemist Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier: “Nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything is transformed.” We must embrace this idea as an industry, and employ solutions to transform and utilize all of the nutrients available in aquaculture systems.
Recently, there has been an increase in attention towards employing the practice of Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) to achieve ecosystem balance. IMTA is a new term for an ancient farming technique that grows multiple species in a proximate area in order to recycle the nutrients generated within the system. Nutrient-rich diets that are used to feed fish at the top of system eventually become nutrient-rich excrement, which then feeds the plants and shellfish in the proximate body of water. The traditional Hawaiian ahupua’a system is a good example of IMTA; the flow of nutrients is efficiently managed from the mountains to the sea to keep the environment pristine and at the same time, provide food for the community.
CTSA is comprised of a region with hundreds of isolated islands surrounded by pristine ocean environment. We must use the natural resources of this region to produce and secure food for generations to come. If we focus on developing regional aquaculture using technology such as IMTA, we can increase production yield and the sustainability of our industry, and at the same time reduce its environmental footprint. One of the keys to this development is communication. We must effectively communicate our ideas, questions and concerns with each other in order to ensure we are successful in our approach. I look forward to continuing the discussion with you, our valued stakeholders.
Cheng-Sheng Lee, Ph.D.
Executive Director, CTSA