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4.1 Definition and Clarification of Sustainable Aquaculture

4.1.1 Semi-controlled natural aquaculture

utilises existing and natural ponds and lakes for the semi-controlled extensive practise of aquatic product cultivation. This exploits natural food chains and water recycling processes. Although this method is environmentally friendly, it could not however sustain future global aquatic product and land management requirements.

4.1.2 Sustainable aquaculture

is a dynamic process, not fixed; incorporating research, learning and reassessment of methods to practise and retain natural equilibrium in aquatic ecosystems. In controlled aquatic vegetation zones, aquatic species are cultured at reasonable stocking densities and maintained with natural food products and compounds. Water quality is conserved by eco-technological methods and where applicable the need to utilise organic compounds and competent materials that are sensitive to the environment without interference in natural ecosystems. The objective is to sustainably produce and keep pace with society's food requirements without eroding natural capital. This will be accomplished by the integration of new technologically initiated methods and combined with effective traditional practices. The long term aim is to produce high quality organic freshwater fish products for local markets. The positive attribute of this strategy is less expense, environmental damage caused by evasive packaging, refrigeration, transport, energy and waste associated with them.

4.1.3 Intensive Non-Sustainable Aquaculture
The practice and methods of aquaculture within an artificially controlled environment, achieving substantial production rates by unnaturally high stocking densities and intensive supplementary feeding. This system also relies upon extensive fresh water circulation and additional synthetic chemical and antibiotic requirements. Profitable cultivation is at the expense of humane animal husbandry and ecosystems.

4.2 Aims & Objectives

4.2.1 Aquaculture

The principle aims are to blend innovation, research, conservation and educational awareness into a common goal of aquatic sustainability and demonstrate this through a successful commercial enterprise. Aquatic species were raised without need for chemicals or antibiotics to control fish diseases and high protein feeds discouraged in favour of locally raised aquatic invertebrates. Emphasis was placed on the integration of aquaculture and agriculture, and research in topical areas of symbiosis for the production of foodstuffs. Principal native freshwater species will be farmed and alien cultured species assessed in relation to local environmental impact.

4.2.2 Wetlands

All new initiatives in the creation of wetland habitats will be assessed with regard to their sustainable value and the increase in local biodiversity without undermining existing native species. A planned effective system of sustainable management and the enhancement of existing wetland habitats will be financed by the sales of aquatic species. These will be sensitively harvested in wetland areas with balanced conservation management in relation to human activities.

4.3 Development of General Aquaculture Policies

4.3.1 Freshwater Aquaculture

* With due consideration for animal husbandry, aquatic species will be raised without the need for chemical or antibiotics by the objective of control rather than eradication of fish diseases.

* Wherever practical, high protein feeds will be discouraged in favour of locally raised aquatic invertebrates used as a base for nutritional requirements with supplementary feeding utilising a variety of waste products found on and off the site.

* New and resurrected traditional aquatic species and their products will be marketed and promoted in the food processing industry.

* To achieve financial and productive sustainability the fish farm will require greater diversification of saleable products. It will culture a wide variety of freshwater cyprinid species and market these products in the food, leisure and ornamental freshwater fish industries.

* Where it is deemed to feasible; the productive process will exploit aquatic waste streams for further efficiency of the system.

* Stocking densities will be below rates practised in congenital intensive aquaculture. The well-being of living aquatic organisms in cultured systems will be progressively evaluated in association with relevant animal welfare organisations.

* A strategy will be developed to encourage, lobby and advise existing commercial aquatic producers on the wide range of benefits associated with conversion to sustainable techniques in freshwater aquaculture.

4.3.2 Integration of freshwater resources

* Emphasis will be placed on the integration of aquaculture with agriculture, and the research of topical areas of symbiosis for the production of foodstuffs.

* Principal native freshwater species will be farmed and alien cultured species assessed in relation to local environmental impact.

* Integrated farming systems identify waste as a positive resource and aquaculture based waste will be utilised for horticulture, agriculture and forestry.

* Where applicable aquatic waste treatment systems will be resource evaluated and organic waste imported to assist in production and utilisation of waste streams on the site.

* The adoption of world-wide integrated farming systems will be adopted to practise new and traditional methods of freshwater polyculture.

* Product diversification from the various organic waste streams will assist in the promotion of local business enterprise initiatives.

4.3.3 Wetlands

* The creation of wetland habitats will be assessed in regard to their sustainable value and increase in local biodiversity.

* With due regard to existing native species, the initiation of planned effective systems in sustainable wetland management will enhance newly created and existing wetland habitats.

* Sales of wetland plant and fish species will financially contribute to essential maintenance required for the discouragement of natural transition from wetland to terrestrial habitats.

* Sensitively harvested wetland areas will be managed with balanced conservation management in relation to human activities.

* The revitalization of industrially damaged wasteland by innovative ecological enhancement and the creation of aquatic habitats.

4.4 Principle Elements of Freshwater Sustainable Aquaculture

4.4.1 Natural Feeding Systems

* The objective is to introduce a base nutritional feed consisting of aquatic and terrestrial insects for fish culture on the sustainable demonstration fish farm. This will be achieved by a series of culturing initiatives to produce in quantities the following living aquatic species:
o Algae
o Infusorians
o Rotifers
o Cyclops
o Daphnia
o Bloodworm
o Tubifex species

* Future aims will be to incorporate a series of zooplankton culture pits in areas not presently utilised (i.e. between the ponds). There will also be a series of cultures kept in the hatchery.
o The ponds will follow the regime of:

+ Draining and harvesting
+ Short drying periods
+ Liming for natural sterilisation and water quality buffering
+ Precise manuring with organic fertilizers derived from a variety of on site animals.

4.5 Alternative Methods of Fish Disease Treatment

4.5.1 Existing Methods of Disease Treatment

Fish culture can be particularly susceptible to health problems due to higher than normal stocking densities, poor water quality and the small number of species farmed. In the wild, fish are more widely dispersed and the risks of contamination are fewer. Current aquacultural trends are to eradicate diseases by vaccine, chemical or antibiotic treatments with little regard or comprehension to the micro or macro environment.

4.5.2 Ecological methods of freshwater fish disease control

* It is generally accepted that optimum water quality based on the specific needs of a cultured fish species is relative to occurrence of disease factors. The prophylactic benefits of a correctly balanced water habitat result in a stress free environment. Stress is a contributory factor to fish in the overall lowering of general health. immune levels and susceptibility to disease.

* Natural selection is a fundamental factor contributing to the genetic integrity of all species and in a system where fish are raised artificially due to human intervention, mortality levels are decreased significantly. It is imperative to achieve the highest levels of husbandry in relation to water quality and dietary requirements to achieve a strong, healthy fish. .

4.5.3 Objectives of Ecological Disease treatment

* The primary objective in the treatment of disease in an aquatic environment is to control rather than eradicate the offending species. The application of an outside treatment to eradicate a species will have a significant impact on the structure of the food chain and water quality. To control and regress the species to an acceptable population level the secondary aim is to maintain stability of the social structure and balance in the aquatic food chain.

* Manipulation of aquatic predators for the control of fish diseases With due consideration to the hierarchical structure of aquatic habitat and with regard to the previously mentioned points, it is possible to intensively manipulate a predator - prey relationship in an intensive aquacultural system. Careful study of the reproductive and feeding behaviour of aquatic species and their impact on the ecosystem is required before practical assessment is implemented.

* Use of natural plant extracts for the treatment of fish diseases. In some cases alternative methods of treatment can be adopted using natural plant extracts from a variety of native species. Once again specific research must be adopted to assess the environmental impact on all the animals in the ecosystem.

4.6 Integrated Initiatives

* The Visions & Values of The Earth Centre embrace the need for total integration of energy and waste streams. To this end the aquaculture centre will be fully amalgamated with horticulture and agriculture projects on the site.

* Integrated farming systems identify waste as a positive resource and organically based aquacultural waste utilised for horticulture, agriculture and forestry. The distribution of organic on-site waste will assist greater production and efficiency on the wider Earth Centre site.

* It is intended to resurrect traditional European farming practices and import successful international models particularly in modernist permaculture and South-East-Asian polyculture systems.

4.7 Diversification and Marketing of Cultured Freshwater Species

General

To achieve financial and productive sustainability the fish farm must achieve diversification of saleable products. It will need to culture a broad range of freshwater species and market these products within the food, leisure and ornamental industries as well as the exploitation of aquatic waste for greater efficiency in the system.

4.7.1 Food Products

Aquatic farmed products have been recognised as essential foodstuffs in Europe since the early Middle Ages. During this period many freshwater fish, now seldom eaten, would have been as highly prized as trout or salmon. European and Asian markets already embrace the principle of the utilisation of freshwater species as food fish with carp (Cyprinid species) being extensively consumed. New markets will be developed and capitalise on new and existing outlets (restaurants, specialist fishmongers and supermarkets) with detailed market research of alternative and historically resurrected species.

4.7.2 Leisure Industry

Recognising angling as a sporting pastime but promoting the need for controlled restocking of open waters and applied conservation strategies. Liaison with water and angling institutions on a regional and national level will establish markets for quality re-stocking and educational support given to angling institutions who will contribute to environmental debates relating to fish husbandry.

4.7.3 Ornamental Fishkeeping Industry

There is a growing demand for quality live fish, particularly in the domestic pondkeeping sector and a policy has been adopted to raise standards and educate fishkeepers in correct animal husbandry. There will be a programme to increase awareness to the potential stress placed on fish due to poor environmental conditions and bad handling.

4.7.4 Aquatic Waste Products

Aquatic waste products in several industrial processes can be utilised. (That is organic fertilisers, fish oils, medicines, etc.). and the identification of substitute eco-friendly products to corresponding markets as alternatives to synthetic substances. Integrated farming systems identify waste as a positive resource and organically based aquacultural waste utilised for horticulture, agriculture and forestry. The distribution of organic on-site waste will assist production and efficiency at the wider Earth Centre site.

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