Today we went to a 68 acre fish farm in Thrissur called ‘Haya Poya’. They were using a traditional box system (the local name is petty para) to collect fish and manage the water level. We went to learn about implementing aquaculture at Kayal Villa, a newer property.
By using this traditional method, they do not have to introduce new varieties of fish in order to farm. They do this mainly because it is less costly to collect the fish naturally than to artificially introduce fish. Also, since it is all local varieties, it limits the possibility of messing up the natural ecosystem with foreign invasive species.
During our ride home, the agronomist, Mr. Deyal, and I continued the conversation about doing what’s ecologically beneficial is actually easier and more cost-efficient. He said
“Only an ecologically viable system will be economically viable. When we fight against the environment, the environment will go against us and we will have to invest more money to protect against it.”
This reminds me of a conversation I had with an oil driller recently. When I asked him what the most challenging thing about his job was, he said ‘going against nature,’ and then proceeded to tell me how rebellious nature was to the oil drilling process and how costly it is. I found it interesting that although their career choices were the antithesis of each other, the conversations I had with them had parallel messages: going against nature is costly.
Mr. Deyal and I talked about “sensible sustainability.” The man who owns the fish farm did not study ecology, he was just doing what was most economically sensible. The way they dug the farm cultivates diversity because different fish need different depths. The more diverse, the more sustainable the ecosystem is and the more yield he gets.
The Haya Poya farm is building a wellness center on the property. He is using the traditional box system to generate electricity from the tidal power. He is also planning on getting a wind turbine and solar panels. All this electricity will go back to the wellness center and he will sell the extra back to electricity companies. The primary investment is high, but because it is ecologically sensible, the long term investment is economically sensible. I like how Mr. Deyal and I were laughing at how silly it is to not use renewable energy because it is so beneficial and available. We just need the technology to become as available as the resources are.
So, in the words of Mr. Deyal, sustainability is just doing what’s sensible.