Recycling: The marine waste from fish farms can be converted into fertilizer and used to help vegetables like tomatoes and lettuce grow.<em> *Photo supplied</em><br />
Recycling: The marine waste from fish farms can be converted into fertilizer and used to help vegetables like tomatoes and lettuce grow. *Photo supplied

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14: Land-based fish farms would dramatically boost agricultural output in Bermuda, according to a leading expert.

Doug Burdette, who runs Global Aquatics, believes the island is the ideal location for a small group of fish farmers to set up business and develop self-sufficiency.

And he is supported by Dr Frederick Ming, director of Environmental Protection, who says the introduction of aquaculture into Bermuda is ‘inevitable’.

Mr Burdette’s firm provides tank system designs to countries across the world that are used to rear huge numbers of fish.

The waste produced by the fish is made into fertilizer in digester tanks and used to help crops grow – a process known as aquaponics.

How it could work here

Mr Burdette visited the island last weekend to meet with Dr Ming and see how his systems could work in Bermuda, ahead of a workshop on aquaculture and aquaponics he will present on March 24.

He told the Sun that tilapia and shrimp farming would be a good place to start in Bermuda.

He added: “This industry has the potential to bring employment and make Bermuda more self sufficient.

“The only ingredient you need to get under control is feed for the fish.

“We have found an area of just 25ft wide by 60ft long can grow around 250,000lbs of fish.

“If you claim all that waste from the tanks you can grow a further 375,000lbs of produce like lettuce and tomatoes.

“You only need 5,000 square feet to set up a system, and someone could set up a nice little system here for $10,000 or less.”

“The systems range in price from $5,000 to $60,000 and give annual yields of 12,500 meals and 50,000 meals respectively.

“Bermuda has a beautiful climate for this industry and it would be perfect if you were to build your tanks out of local materials such as concrete as it would save money.”

Computerized filtration systems control the temperature and oxygen levels in the water.

While the fertilizer created from the marine waste is siphoned onto produce in neighbouring greenhouses.

Mr Burdette added: “There is a great potential for a few farmers to make a very good living using modern aquaculture and aquaponics to grow many of these crops. The reason it is not done now is your available land area is limited. However, if we took that same three acre plot that now grows crops in the traditional manner and used more modern aquaponics for the fertilizer they could triple the production on the same land area.

“This has a major impact because now the food is fresher and could possibly be cheaper because it is local with no long distant shipping cost.

New direction

“If we set these operations up right, these operations will grow all year round. That alone increases the production by 25 per cent.”

Dr Ming added: “We want to take agriculture in a new direction. We went to Doug Burdette because he will create the blue print for an aquaculture and aquaponics system that would fit best in Bermuda.

“This is something I have wanted to bring into Bermuda since 1978.

“Aquaculture and aquaponics will happen in Bermuda. It is a question of when rather than if. It is inevitable.”

Mr Burdette’s workshop will take place in the Visitor’s Centre of the Botanical Gardens from 10am until 4pm. Registration is required. Call the Department of Environmental Protection at 239-2317 or by emailing them at environmentalprotection@gov.bm