|Home > Agriculture Pavilion > Ocean Pastures > Marine Ranch|
The ocean makes up 70% of the earth's surface. It seems the creatures living in it should be happy for the huge space they have. However, over-fishing, environment change and manmade damage have caused diminishing fishery resources across the globe. Marine farms can be one of the solutions to make fishery resources last.
Building farms on the ocean sounds funny, and how exactly can the ocean and farms have any connection?
The so-called "marine ranch" means placing artificial reefs in the sea, releasing fish fry there and allowing them to grow in nature. The concept is similar to a ranch on land. It is easy to fence up a specific area to keep sheep and cattle in. In the ocean, however, a farm needs a manmade environment to attract fishes to stay. Therefore, choosing an appropriate location and building the habitat are two important premises to a successful marine ranch.
Little fishes do not need much to live. Wherever there are food to eat, places to hide and protection for them to breed safely, it is paradise. To build a good home for fishes, choosing the location is the primary concern. From the aspect of food chain, big fish feast on small fish. Small fish eat little shrimps. Little shrimps consume plankton. Plankton feed on even smaller creatures or algae. Since ocean currents drive the creatures and seaweed at the bottom of the food chain from the ocean bed, wherever a current passes a marine farm can be started.
As reefs are where little fishes live, play and hide from predators, the next important step in building a marine ranch is installing artificial reefs. The types, shapes and sizes of artificial reefs are many. They can be made of concrete, used tires, old utility poles, obsolete boats, etc. Presently there are over ten old navy vessels used as artificial reefs. Small maze-like passages must be kept for the little fishes to travel, play and hunt for food. When an enemy approaches, they also provide the most ideal asylum.
While the little fishes enjoy the room and board in the reefs, large fishes, prawns and lobsters, and crabs will also gather and settle around for the abundant and steady food supply. Even cruising types of fish and species from other places can be attracted to join the community. This is exactly the purpose of building marine farms - to improve fishing environments and maintain sustainable fishery resources by constructing homes suitable for marine life through artificial means.
In addition to choosing the right waters and installing proper artificial reefs, the task also includes deciding on the types of fry to release, setting limits on fishing time and quantities and sizes of catches, and putting regulations on fishing equipment and methods used, in order to stabilize the overall supply and ensure the sustainability of the marine farm. Furthermore, leisure fishing can be developed and everybody can pay visits to the community of the little fishes.
Revival of the Ocean
Sunken ships are often regarded as treasure hunting spots because of the substantial or historical value of the cargo. Yet for the fishes, the treasure is never as precious as the home made out of these sunken boats and navy ships and airplanes. Fishermen are aware that fish gather around these"accident sites" and a cast net is never hauled up empty. By employing the same principle, building a marine farm is to give the fishes a specific habitat. Eventually the natural environment will attract all kinds of neighbors and form a large community.
Such a community will not only provide rich catches, it can also be developed for leisure fishing to promote local tourism. As some fishermen develop a second skill based on their initial profession and switch to recreational fishing, the fishing population is reduced and pressure on fishery resources will be eased relatively.
The resources in the vast ocean are not endless. The dwindling sources of fishes, the calcification of corals and even the extinction of some species are all warning signals that man has already disrupted the marine ecology. Marine farms will serve as a solution to rebuild man's relations with the sea. By conforming to the law of nature and using ocean resources in moderation, we can make sure that our future generations will always be able to coexist with the ocean.