Monday, March 19, 2007

Renowned Oceanographer to Discuss the "Blue Revolution" at Washington College, March 29

Chestertown, MD, March 19, 2007 — Washington College welcomes acclaimed oceanographer Dr. Barry Costa-Pierce, Director of the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program and Professor of Fisheries & Aquaculture at the University of Rhode Island, who will present the latest research on ecological aquaculture on Thursday, March 29, at 7:30 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in its 2006 report confirmed that aquaculture is one of the most rapidly growing businesses in the world today, and certainly the fastest growing form of agriculture. Worldwide aquaculture is a $63 billion business providing 43% of all fish consumed. (In 1980 just 9% of aquatic products were provided by aquaculture.) Globally, consumer demands for fish continues to climb, especially in the developed nations which in 2004 imported 33 million metric tons of fish worth over $61 billion.

"Wild, capture fisheries have remained stable since the mid-1980s, hovering around 90-93 million metric tons per year and there is little hope of any significant increases in catches beyond these levels. A recent FAO global assessment of wild fish stocks found that out of the nearly 600 species groups it monitors, 52% are fully exploited, while 25% are either overexploited, depleted, or recovering. Just 23% are moderately exploited or underexploited. FAO's report estimates that an additional 40 million metric tons of aquatic foods will be required by 2030 just to maintain current levels of consumption. The only option for meeting future demand for fish is the global expansion of aquaculture—the so-called "blue revolution."

In his lecture on March 29, "The Evolution of the Blue Revolution," Dr. Costa-Pierce will argue that aquaculture is an effective tool to meet global food demands. The "ecological aquaculture" model adopts not only the technical aspects of ecosystems design, but also incorporates comprehensive planning for the wider social, economic, and environmental contexts of aquatic agriculture. Costa-Pierce also believes that new aquaculture developments must be planned as part of—not separate from—comprehensive management strategies for the restoration and sustainability of coastal ecosystems, coastal fisheries and coastal communities.

Dr. Costa-Pierce's scientific interests include ichthyology, fish biology, the ecology, design, and engineering of aquaculture and fisheries ecosystems, aquatic food production systems, and the social and economic dimensions of aquaculture of marine and freshwater fish of importance to coastal communities. He has worked in fishing communities in over 20 countries as a consultant to a number of United Nations organizations, as a senior environmental consultant for The World Bank, and as a Post-Evaluation Consultant for The Asian Development Bank. He has over 100 scientific, education, and extension publications in the aquatic and environmental sciences, and he is the author of several books includingEcological Aquaculture (2002) and Urban Aquaculture (2005).

In the last few years Dr. Costa-Pierce has been working with consumers on national and international levels to develop community-based methods and products that can be differentiated from mass consumer products. "Aquaculture is nothing new" says Costa-Pierce, "because aquatic animals and plants were farmed using ecologically sophisticated technologies over 3,000 years ago. But as it 'greens up' and evolves more socially and ecologically responsible operations, it has the potential to be a vital part of the future of the world's working waterfronts."

The March 29 event is part of the College's George Goes Green efforts to raise awareness of sustainable community practices. It is sponsored by the Center for the Environment and Society, which supports interdisciplinary education, research, and the integration of ecological and social values.

Admission to the lecture is free and open to the public. Litrenta Hall is located in the John S. Toll Science Center. For information, call 410-778-7295.

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