At the Bristol Fish Project, we are determinedly working towards making our project more sustainable, but at the same time have an inkling that sustainability doesn’t quite cut it – it allows us to be in a ‘we’ve done our bit’ bubble. We don’t think we can solve any of the challenges of today with that attitude. Aquaculture is renowned for its dirty effluents and use of wild-caught fish meal. This comprehensive analysis of the environmental impact of the world’s major aquaculture production systems and species was released by WorldFish Center and Conservation International. It provides the first global analysis of the ecological impact of seafood farming, an industry that has grown rapidly over the past 50 years and now provides half the seafood consumed worldwide.
Many farmers understand the responsibility of stewarding the land; about actively restoring the capacity of our soils and the biodiversity on which we depend. Now in this urban setting we want our project to be restorative, rejuvenating, vital – we want to try as much as we can to be regenerative…
The Regenerative City – Some of our team took part in future city talks in Bristol hosted by Bristol’s Green Capital with Herbie Girardet leading discussions. His ideas provide us with real inspiration especially the idea that our urban areas can be self-regenerating: ‘These regenerative cities are places where people, their developments and structures as well as culture are a symbiotic part of the ecosystem. Development in the city is focused on the health of the city as an ecosystem, and seeks to restore the capacity of the ecosystem and bio-geological cycles. The diversity and uniqueness of city is crucial to its design, the process of which is long-term and participatory‘ (Girardet, 2010).
An aquaponic farm in a Regenerative City – We are using this vision of the regenerative city to think about how our project could function sustainably in a regenerative city of the Future. We can see that the project could not be dependent on the extraction of finite resources – oil, phosphates, and metals in the longer term. Energy used in the project would need eventually to be from renewable sources – perhaps using biofuels, solar power, heat-exchange or anaerobic biodigestion are examples of the technologies readily available today. It’s clear that the flows of materials through the regenerative city would need to be aligned to bio-geochemical cycles and rhythms that naturally restore them; so for our aquaponic farm waste = food for other processes which we also refer to as closing material loops. Even the packaging used by the project would be multiple use, derived from recycling and upcycled into other useful products. The project could be absorbing waste from the urban area – food waste can be processed into fish-feed, CO2 emissions can be pumped into the greenhouses, and we could be using waste heat from industry to warm our tanks. Our space too is important – in the regenerative city urban space is a key interface for society, agriculture and nature. The project would be caring for its space to increase its fertility and biodiversity but also to enable its multi-functionality – human leisure, idleness, learning, mobility, energy provision and waste processing.
We still have a long way to go in developing our project as a regenerative enterprise however are really excited to work with this concept of a regenerative city to guide our thinking!