Posted by & filed under Aquaculture, Community Projects, Fish, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Land, Plant Systems.

by Øyvind Holmstad

The two videos below are much about scaling up mangrove systems for sustainable sea water farming, done in a true permaculture spirit from which both people and nature benefit. Sadly this is in stark contrast to industrial aquaculture, where they throw cheap energy on unsustainable systems to maximize profit.

Today mangroves are disappearing fast. Thirty-five percent of mangrove ecosystems disappeared between 1980 and 2000, according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Shrimp farms have been a primary cause of mangrove loss, as well as urbanization and agriculture. This is why the message from The Seawater Foundation is of such an importance, as they show how to change and provide hope for the future.

Greening Eritrea — Part 1

Greening Eritrea — Part 2

A similar form of sustainable shrimp farming is the Chinese Gei Wai, a shallow fish pond surrounded by bunds. Make sure you get real mangrove prawns on your pizza next time you order a sea food topping!

Mangroves and other coastal ecosystems provide a lot services for humanity, among them is their capacity to capture and store CO2. Carbon sinks along the world’s coast lines, including mangroves, sea grasses, and tidal salt marshes, store massive quantities of carbon for centuries at a time, and could provide an immediate and cost-effective tool to counter the impacts of climate change.

Further reading:

8 Responses to “Sea Water Farming”

  1. Tom Toogood

    Oyvind, this Seawater Farming is an amazing, inspiring break-through, thanks for sharing it. Please keep up your constant habit of finding and abstracting a surprising range of Permaculture-relevant information to enrich this site, following Mollison’s principle that Permaculture is information rich, & strengthening Craig’s (Editor) and others’ good work.
    I hope the Sea water farming methods, with vast potential to feed the hungry people near many desert coasts, are not made commercial property, but registered under Creative Commons for free and open public use, insofar as they are patent-able. Such natural ecology should not be, (neither be corrupted forever by GM/GE “improvements” so-called, Monsanto etc take note).

  2. Øyvind Holmstad

    I’m happy you liked the videos Tom, and really hope these techniques will be implemented the best possible way around the world. Also I want to thank an Adam T who posted the links for these videos at another commentary field a while ago.

  3. Kim Hayes

    Bravo & Kudos! Fabulous good news in sadly a world that teeters on loosing it’s way, over and over again!
    We all need to see & hear win-win news/ stories that are working. Once again this video shows that the problem…..salt water……is the solution! Applause! Applause! Life is our cause! (Joni Mitchell)

  4. Tom Toogood

    Oyvind OR anyone, can you please give the Botanical name
    (& common name if existing) of that halophyte** plant, it sounded
    like Salicornia or Salacornia on the video. I’m sure other
    members who saw the video will also want to know. Can anyone give us a review of other multifunctional halophytes**, including
    climate, cultivation, propagation, please??
    (**meaning salt-tolerant, like the Australian saltbush, I think?)

    Also, can some Botanist or Mangroves lover give us similar outline of Mangroves (another halophyte I assume)….I did not realise how multi-functional they are, even though Mangroves ecology is one of my favourite inspirational ecologies.

    By a marvellous coincidence, my wife and I are shifting to a retirement village with a mixed salt and fresh water creek frontage. How can I best I grow a small grove of mangroves there, starting with seed collection & germination?

  5. Adam T

    Hi Tom. Sea water farming with this technique is being scaled up. For better or for worse I think it’s being scaled up by big industry. I recall seeing a small piece in the National Geographic a few years back that Shell is exploring the potential of salicornia as an alternative fuel. I don’t know if this is because they bought this technology or come up with it concurrently. Perhaps its time corporations attempted to clean up their act somewhat. Better late than never I guess.

    *With regards to planting in your local creek, it’s best to talk to your local landcare or nursery to plant local natives (i assume you’re an aussie too). You don’t want to introduce something that may cost a lot more to remove if it goes awry. Australia is a big continent, so what’s native to one area might not be so welcome elsewhere.

    @Øyvind- No Problems Øyvind, i greatly appreciate all the links you manage to find and post in your comments! Glad to return the favour.

  6. Ben Wa

    Hey everyone, did anyone know, why this project didn’t exist anymore? Its realy sad, but I don’t have any idea how to reach out to the founders and get in contact with them. It would be also very helpful to know more details of this project (kind of plants, calculations, technics how to prevent the soil and the ground water to be contaminated by salt, the role of havy metal and petroleum etc.), so one could reimplement the exact same strategy on small scall all around the world – if it doesn’t work in the big scale.

    To realise this project in this scale, it is in my optinion the smartest and most accurated project in the world with a huge potential. I really hope one could reach Mr. Carl Hedges, who realized this project in Eritrea but also a second time in the north west of Mexico to produce biofuel with a huge Salicornia plantation.

    At one video I think Mr. Hedges said, that he creates fresh water when its done the right way, I didn’t get it yet. Or does Salicornia at this scale really took more salt from the water, then water is vanished through other plants, condensation etc. and because it will be harvested and consumed, one create fresh water (through condensation and absorbion into leaves which got eaten by animals) carbon enriched soil, food, fodder, biomass and eventually biofuel etc.?

    And what are the potential problems and longterm damages for the enviroment (fresh water reserves…) with this kind of artificial mangroves as sort of land reclamation.

    @Tom Toogood: As I know they use salicornia, mangroves (but I dont know which one, at the wikipedia is written, that for East Africa there exists two types of mangrove trees (Avicennia marina and Rhizophora mucronata) – along the coast of red sea, Egypt side and in the Gulf of Aqaba). But one could use also Tamarix, Portulaca oleracea etc.


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