Lina Oliveros

Raising Prawns in the City

Mangroves are unique ecosystems that provide many services, including: acting as natural barriers that impart protection from flooding and other natural disasters, linking marine and terrestrial ecosystems in support of coastal fisheries as a nursery (consequently mangroves give stability to other ecosystems as well), nurturing biodiversity, and providing important water-filtration functions. Unfortunately, shrimp farming is causing extensive damage to mangroves around the world. These habitats are being destroyed and used for a short-term period in order to grow shrimp; once a mangrove is exploited, shrimp farmers move to another section of mangrove and repeat the process.

Lina Oliveros believes that growing prawns in a city setting can be an alternative to harvesting shrimp (Caridea) from natural waters. For her Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship, Lina set up an urban aquaculture initiative in Baltimore, Maryland through a partnership with Baltimore GreenWorks, a local non-profit dedicated to furthering positive community, economy and sustainability in the Baltimore region.

The project’s primary goal was to create a model system that proves economic viability in providing sustainably organically produced seafood and vegetables in an underused warehouse space in the city. In doing so, it has helped to advance awareness of environmental, energy, and social impacts that some distantly produced foods cause and how an alternative model can begin to address them. Lina developed bilingual education materials and disseminated them to English and Spanish speaking communities. With fellowship support she was be able to organize in-house lectures, and coordinate other outreach activities, such as webinars, blogs, and meetings.

Raising prawns in the city represents an innovative alternative model to traditional shrimp farming that can bring affordable, high-protein food to the urban local food supporter. By growing prawns in urban environments, local communities can take advantage of buying more affordable fresh food that has traveled less distance, thereby reducing energy consumption and lowering rates of pollution.

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