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Farming the open ocean in the U.S.: Is the Gulf of Mexico the right place to start?

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In a feature story in collaboration with the Food and Environment Reporting Network, freelance science journalist Virginia Gewin took a deep dive into the debate around whether or not the U.S. should begin open ocean aquaculture, and whether the Gulf of Mexico is the right place to do it.

“Marine aquaculture, so far largely based in coastal waters, has long been anathema to environmentalists, its reputation blighted by everything from pollution and disease outbreaks to the destruction of mangroves and genetic contamination from escaped fish,” Gewin writes. “Open-ocean aquaculture could reduce some of these environmental concerns, assuming it is sited in deep, swift waters, reducing the potential for pollution and disease without destroying habitat, and remaining challenges, such as fish escaping and forage fish being used as feed in huge quantities, have promising fixes.

“As a result, some environmentalists are saying open-ocean aquaculture deserves a fresh look. Since all food we grow, on land or in the sea, has some environmental impact, isn’t aquaculture worth exploring if it can satisfy rising demand for healthier protein with less impact than, say, beef or pigs?”

The infographic above from SwitchYard Media explores some of the pros and cons of offshore aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico that Gewin examines in her in-depth feature story.

To read the entire feature at Ensia, click here. View Ensia homepage

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