?Business Week? backs
urban fish farms -- but
fails the rooftop garden
America?s most influential business magazine, ?Business Week?, has
predicted that urban fish farming and rooftop gardening will become part of the world?s ?innovation
economy?. But it did not go far enough in
exploring what community gardeners can do on rooftops.
In its October 11 issue the magazine
Asia?s population grows wealthier, global demand
for protein is on track to outstrip the supply of feed necessary to raise all
the chickens and cows we?ll need.
?Fish are a better idea: They need less food to generate
each pound of flesh. Yet, due to a lack of global cooperation, fish are often
harvested until too few are left to catch.
And today?s fish farms can poison nearby waters with rotting food,
chemical additives and fish waste?
The answer, the magazine said in its 32-page special report on the
innovation economy ahead, could be urban fish factories around the
The magazine said urban fish farming technology was on
its way around the world. It gave, as an example, a basement fish farm in
New York City?s
Professor Martin P Schreibman, a distinguished scientist and biology
professor of the college, has been proving the urban fish farming point with a
high-efficiency system growing Tilapia, a tropical fish much favoured in the
Not only does the
US grow large
quantities of Tilapia in urban agricultural systems where heat and feed wastes
from food processing are well used, but it also imports this fish from as far
Professor Martin?s system filters waste and has a careful water
recirculation system for raising large volumes of fish in small spaces.
?Business Week? made the point that the market for the fish is nearby and
transport costs are thus lower. ?That
could mean fresher, cheaper fish for all,? the magazine opined.
Professor Schreibman's interests include understanding the physiology of
the brain-pituitary-gonad axis, induction of spacing and ovulation of fin fish
under intensive aquaculture conditions, analysis of closed aquatic ecosystems,
regenerating life-support systems and assessment of environmental impact on fish
physiology and fisheries management.
His work in urban fish farming for these studies has made a very
real point for both commercial and community gardeners..
However, ?Business Week?s? innovation economy report also predicted the
?greening? of urban rooftops to reduce ?heat island effect? that contributed to
It said the trend towards rooftop vegetation began in
Europe in the 1980s and was now catching on in
Tokyo and New
The green roofs referred to were turfed or ornamentally-foliaged
-- cooling buildings in summer and keeping them warmer in winter.
But the magazine did not make the obvious link between
basement waste production by fin fish and the use of those wastes in organic
hydroponics on rooftops that becomes ?aquaponics? -- to further lower the
cost urban food production close to where it is needed, and to reduce the use of
fossil fuels in transport energy from distant vegetable farms.
An important additional
point to make is that community rooftop farming and gardening probably has
its biggest opportunity for global expansion based on rooftops of apartments and
I commend "Business Week"
for it's recognition of two important innovations. I hope the magazine now goes
President, Urban Agriculture Network-Western Pacific. October 7,