Shipping containers are becoming important tools for development across the Global South. In some areas they have been converted into emergency shelters, and they are now being used to help combat low levels of fishing off the coast of Cape Town in South Africa. The Fish Farm, created by Alan Fleming, is the first fish farm in the world to be specifically designed within the confines of a shipping container. This project began gaining momentum after Fleming entered his idea for the Empowering People Award, which was hosted by Siemens Stiftung earlier this year.
The idea was developed by Fleming after he realized that many fish farms operate with exceedingly high budgets, which is not a sustainable solution when trying to help the world’s poor. His design, which has proven to be both simple and affordable, aims to help bring food and an income to the hungry. The initial Fish Farm complex has been set up in Philippi, a low-income township in Cape Town.
The prototype has been operating inside a 40-foot long shipping container. Six large containers, piping, and tubes are the backbones of the simple design. The price of the initial fish farm was roughly $40,000USD, which paid for both the shipping container and building materials, fish food, salaries for construction, and the installation of solar panels for sustainable operation. Additional requirements include 250 liters of fresh, clean water per day, and a flat surface to place the shipping container on.
This simple yet innovative design allows for fish to be bred and grown in a setting away from the ocean, which helps replenish natural populations that have been declining as a result of excessive fishing. The current model produces up to 4 tons of tilapia per year, and a second model is currently being designed, which will hopefully yield even more fish. Other species can also be bred, but tilapia has proved to be a simple and successful choice. The tilapia has been sold to local restaurants throughout Cape Town.
The project also aims to create new livelihoods for social entrepreneurs across the Global South. The simple designs allows for simple operations, so it is quite easy to train people on how to successfully run and operate the farm. The project’s current manager, Lungile Mafilika, used to be a gardener, but has successfully been trained and taught how to operate the equipment used by The Fish Farm. He is now responsible for helping to implement the project in other locations when they are ready to expand.
After being entered for the Empowering People Award, The Fish Farm was selected from over 800 projects and eventually made it to the final round of 20. They finished as a runner-up, and received €5,000 ($6800 USD) in funding to help further their work.
With the prize money, The Fish Farm promised to help create more fish farms in poor communities across the globe, which would in turn help boost local economies by providing jobs and goods to sell on the market, and provide a sustainable, low-cost source of food for those in need. These developments within the field of aquaculture is important because many people throughout the Global South depend on oceans, lakes and rivers for food products. Producing high-quality, natural fish at affordable prices is important, and will help combat levels of hungry.