The fastest growing food sector in the world today is aquaculture. But we have been having a problem now for decades, and that problem is over fishing. Over fishing has decimated many marine ecosystems. Globally, 60% of fish stocks are being fished currently at capacity, and 29% are being fished over capacity, possibly leading to the reduction of fish populations that cannot be fully recovered unless fishing were halted for years. There are some solutions, 50% of the fish eaten in the United States today comes from fish farms, while the other 50% are caught in the open ocean. Fish farms are continuing to grow and take more market share, while natural fishing is trying to keep pace, but often at the cost of damaging their own ecosystem, and industry in the process. In fact, commercial fishing globally has decreased since the year 2000 due to lack of fishstocks in some key areas.
In America, Florida tops the charts in terms of fishing industry activity, bringing in 28 billion dollars a year, and almost half of all marine production in the country comes from the Atlantic, while only about a third comes from the Pacific, but in many places where these activities are taking place they are having (to varying degrees) detrimental effects on the ecosystem as a whole. Government regulation often makes this worse. What if there were a way to grow fish, seaweed, shellfish, and other marine products sustainably, while also building up a new ecosystem in what was once an ocean desert?
Many areas of the ocean are lifeless, most of it is not coral reefs and beautiful exotic looking fish swimming around. In most of the ocean, the depth of the water prevents sunlight from penetrating making photosynthesis impossible, also a problem with deep water is that nutrients from the ocean floor doesn’t mix with the areas that do receive sunlight, meaning that algae and seaweeds have little useful nutrients to grow with, even if energy is abundant. Seasteads can draw water up from the deep using OTEC technology, and provide nutrients to surface waters in deep seas, creating life where their was none before. Many different types of seaweeds can be grown in this environment which can be used as fish food to grow tons of fish, including salmon.
In addition to fish farming, woven baskets filled with shellfish can be hung below the fish which will feed on the nutrients in the water, both algae and fish droppings. Everything from clams to mussels to scallops can be grown in these baskets. Even oysters, which produce pearls! All of this can be done sustainably using renewable energy sources like OTEC and solar, and keeping a self contained carbon cycle to increase growth.
Lastly, because of biorock (which we also covered in a previous blog post here) we can even grow calcium based deposits on the bottom of seasteads, which can have young corals fixed to them. These corals will grow into the structure itself and become full sized coral reefs, providing shelter and food for all kinds of wild animals. With this in mind, there is truly no limit to what kinds of environments can be grown on seasteads. Each floating city could have a different type of environment, some based on coral, others on seagrass, and many will probably be mixed, but all will produce a plethora of resources for their inhabitants.
The seasteading movement has a lot of potential benefits to humanity, from increasing living space, and decreasing real estate costs, to increasing fish production while building up our environment. According to the UN, Earth will have between 9.1 and 10 billion people by 2050. Those people will still need to eat and have a place to rest, and seasteading can provide the solutions to their problems, all while growing new coral reefs and other deep sea environments in the process.