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Farming the Oceans as We Farm Land

US - With global seafood demand on the rise, natural resources stretched thin and technology rapidly advancing, the prospect of farming fish in deep water offshore is looking more and more pragmatic.

At a conference on offshore aquaculture in Newport this week, experts gathered to take a closer look at the pros and cons of the controversial industry, which has drawn opposition from environmentalists and commercial fishing groups, reports the Daily Astorian.

According to the News Agency, Richard Langan, executive director of the University of New Hampshire's Open Ocean Aquaculture Project and keynote speaker at the conference called offshore aquaculture "a wicked issue" that requires the cooperation of scientists from multiple disciplines and a lot of public education.

"There's a lot of controversy over it and it needed a lot of discussion that never happened," he said.

But he said there is good reason to at least consider the possibility of growing fish offshore.

"The planet is 70 percent ocean," he said. "A remarkable statistic is it only produces 1.8 percent of our food. There's got to be a way we can get more production out of the ocean."

Langan's program has launched a 30-acre demonstration aquaculture facility six miles off the coast of New Hampshire, where it is experimenting with raising halibut, haddock, cod and even steelhead trout in underwater net pens.