Baltimore is now home to two sources of local fish and shrimp! The two aquaponics projects are important for economic and environmental reasons. In addition to brining jobs to Baltimore, the projects also eliminate the pollution that is caused transporting fish and shrimp from far off places like California or Japan.
Earlier this year, the Prawn Shop made the news in the Urbanite. This shrimp farm produces about 300 pounds every three to four months. The biggest concern with most big aquaculture is the purification of water, which tends to be rather expensive and wasteful. The Prawn Shop figured out that they can use the waste from the shrimp to help feed plants and algae with their hydroponics system. This serves to both purify and recycle the water, making the overall process greener. According to a report done by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, for every pound of shrimp caught, three to fifteen pounds of other sea life is destroyed. This statistic effectively shows the need for sustainable aquaculture as constant fishing is destructive to ecosystems.
This month, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future officially unveiled their new Aquaponics project at the Cylburn Arboretum. According to a press release the project is raising about 400 tilapia fish as well as several hundred pounds of organic produce all within a 1,200 square foot greenhouse. The intention is to sell the fish and produce at local markets and distribute all excess goods to local emergency food providers. One interesting benefit of this farm is that the tilapia they raise do not eat wild fish, unlike like salmon, which takes three pounds of wild fish to feed one pound of farm-raised salmon.
Anyone interested in learning more about this project can visit the Cylburn Arboretum on Wednesdays from 10am to noon, or by appointment, to get a first hand view of how aquaponics works. In addition to those visitation hours they also encourage tour groups to come and learn more about what they are doing to better Baltimore. For more information on the farm project please contact farm manager Laura Genello at firstname.lastname@example.org.