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Organic Integrated Multi-Tropic Aquaculture in Panama

What is Organic Integrated Multi-Tropic Aquaculture?

Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) is a mouthful. It's basically the practice of cultivating different aquatic species (fish, shellfish, aquatic plants, crustaceans) that coexist and feed symbiotically within different water levels in aquaculture or 'fish farming'. The combination of species or polyculture is ordered in a way that is geared for efficiency, reduces waste, and reduces disease. Creating a more natural sort of 'ecosystem' just like permaculture practices or certain rotations in organic farming; helps to reduce any sort of environmental footprint and creates healthier organisms...hence healthier food. An example would be integrated tilapia, shrimp, seaweed and shellfish in brackish water. With some food inputs, the relationship of the polyculture is leveraged by producing food through waste and thus cleaning waste. That certainly helps with environmental compatibility.

Aquaculture ponds at Lago Bay, Panama.

The Organic Part

The biggest factor of organic aquaculture is the food. Most fish and shrimp foods are genetically modified. Many countries use practices that go way beyond GMO food. I've heard some real horror stories. Most of these stories are associated with polluted farming being dumped into polluted aquaculture as a food source. The important point is that not only is environmental health at stake when this sort of practice occurs...but human health is also a concern. 'You are what you eat' comes to mind. That goes for the creatures in the aquaculture system.

A quick story of Mississippi Catfish as an example

I have an incredible friend that is a chef near Memphis, Tennessee. He works in Northern Mississippi. I visited one of his restaurants and he emphasized that all of his catfish was from Mississippi. 'Duh' I said. He leaned over and informed me that many of the restaurants in the area imported their catfish from China. I thought that was odd given the number of aquaculture ponds in that region. So...I asked him...'where are all of Mississippi's catfish going?' 'To people that pay more' was the answer. Mississippi catfish are corn feed and many of the other fish are produced cheaply, being fed with....crapola. So...the net result is that you have better paying customers in the US, Europe and China eating Mississippi catfish and you have 'lower income' or unaware customers in the US, Europe and China eating Chinese catfish. Next time your at your favorite Mexican restaurant and order your favorite Baja Fish Tacos...ask where they get those mystery tilapia. Food for thought.

Tiger lake.  Lago Bay, Panama

Back to Organic

There is also an organic farm area near where the fish ponds are located that can be used for production of organic fish food. I'm very interested in ideas of creating food for an aquaculture project (for local consumption in Panama). Lago Bay is already free of pesticides and antibiotics. Looking for environmental compatibility through savvy cultivation of fish food combined with integrated multi-trophic aquaculture seems like the winning formula for an incredible organic IMTA project.

Moringa project at Lago Bay
Moringa project at Lago Bay

Other components to the puzzle

Here at Lago Bay, we are cultivating thousands of coconut and moringa trees.

Copra is the by-product of what you get when you squeeze the oil out of a coconut. It can be an alternative protein source (as opposed to fish meal) in fish feed because the nutritional value is almost the same. Copra is high in protein.

Moringa has some tremendous possibilities as well. Moringa leaves are a great source of protein, vitamins, beta-carotene and various kinds of minerals. Moringa enhances both growth and health in fish.

Coconut field in Lago Bay
Coconuts at Lago Bay, Panama

Lago Bay, Panama

Lago Bay is a residential and vacation home project in central Pacific Panama. There are permaculture, agriculture and aquaculture components to the Lago Bay project. Lago Bay is located in close proximity to Santa Catalina which is known for great surfing, fishing and diving. Coiba National Park is the main attraction of our area.

A beautiful day at the lake at Lago Bay, Panama

Organic Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture at Lago Bay, Panama

If you liked this introductory idea for an IMTA project at Lago Bay, feel free to join the conversation. The Lago Bay website is More information and my contact email is available there.

Saludos from Lago Bay,



Fly from Albrook to Lago Bay?  Continue on to Bocas?  Find out which Charter option is best for your group.

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The drive from Panama City to Lago Bay is approximately 6 hours.  A chartered plane takes about 45 minutes. 

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