Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Outside Alaska, aquaculture efforts march on

Alaska evidently has it so good that it need not consider a serious expansion of its aquaculture industry.

Elsewhere, however, folks are thinking big.

Here's an excerpt from a daily investors newsletter I receive sketching out a fantastic plan involving fish, algae and oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Would we consider something like this in Alaska? Nope, don't think so.

Something Smells Fishy‏

Wells Fargo Daily Advantage

Aug. 25, 2009

Are we ready for cars that are powered by the oil squeezed out of fish which munch on algae? One company hopes so. LiveFuels is a firm hoping to cash in on the algae-based biofuel craze by developing new ways to process algae into liquid energy to power our cars, buses, and trucks. They also claim their methods will help reduce a problem in the ocean caused by fertilizer runoff.

Each spring, fertilizer runoff from farms across the Midwest flows down the Mississippi river and into the Gulf of Mexico. This creates the second-largest algae bloom in the world — the size of New Jersey. It is called a "dead zone" because the algae feeds on the fertilizer, which in turn feeds a booming bacteria population which sucks up so much oxygen in the ocean water that fish and plants either move away or perish. Scientists, environmentalists, and the seafood industry have been monitoring the negative impact of fertilizer runoff and the dead zones for years.

Instead of harvesting the oil directly from the algae in the harmful dead zones (a costly proposition), LiveFuels plans to enlist an army of traveling fish to gobble it up. (Think of it like a farmer renting out goats to "naturally" cut the grass along highways and airports.) More than 25,000 pounds of fish per acre would be released into the dead zones to feast on the algae. The fish would be contained in caged fish farms and, after plumping up, would be rounded up and the oils squeezed out of them. Lovely imagery, hey? But the process results in no carbon footprint, the phosphates from fish bones are used for (ironically) fertilizer, and protein for animal feed and oil for fuel is generated.

— Brian Bock

1 comment:

realtor Julie said...

Interesting. Algae oil is something I have been thinking about quite a lot recently, because it might possibly become the oil of the future. I'm really curious to see what happens with this issue.