From Fishing to Farming

The port of Gioia Tauro is the hub of the international illegal garbage business. In the Mediterranean, industrial fishing will come to an end by 2030. The reason lies in the replacement of traditional fishing by aquaculture and the overfishing of the sea. Algae are already being used in sewage treatment plants to purify water, as their high lipid content enables certain algae to accumulate heavy metals and other toxins. My Toxic Algae project deals with the purification of the Mediterranean Sea through the cultivation of algae. In order to bring the topic to life, I have come up with a fictitious tool manufacturer who produces algae farming tools from old fishing boats and tools.
The tools of the fictitious company algaeferrum are manufactured industrially for the most part by drop forging and metal spinning. A textile factory specialising in protecting clothing against toxic substances produces coated clothing for algae fishermen. The metal for the tools is extracted by algaeferrum in cooperation with several ship cemeteries and recycling centres, where stainless steel, aluminium and lead are stored by the abandoned fishing industry and can be purchased cheaply.

The algae trawlers depart from the port of Gioia Tauro to harvest from the nearby algae farms. Lead, chromium, cobalt, nickel, manganese and zinc are extracted from the algae in an incineration facility located at the port and sold for further industrial use.
In order to be able to work with toxic algae, which also release radioactive radiation, safety clothing that is coated with lead is required. A lot of lead is used in industrial longline fishing. One single longline can contain up to 400 kg of lead. 
Seaweed has a high lipid content and is well suited to bind toxins. It can grow up to 100 m below the water surface in the Mediterranean due to the high light intensity and can reach a size of 10 m depending on the variety.
The crop tool by algaeferrum consists of a tool series that contains three tools. They are intended for the artisanal cultivation of algae.
The algae cutter is designed for industrial algae harvesting and can be used on old, restructured fishing trawlers.

student:Nikolaus Hößle
project:urban mining – urban tooling


by Nikolaus Hößle

Algaeferrum is an Italian algae farming tool manufacturer that buys tool stock left overs from insolvent fishing companies. These raw materials are used to make the new algae tools. These tools make the daily work of algae fishermen easier.

Sunday 16 May 2039 Carlo’s in his late forties. Fifteen years ago he was still a fisherman in the italian region of Abruzzo. Since 2029, the last fish stocks in the Mediterranean have been depleted. Like every morning, Carlo is taking one of several harbour worker buses. The convoy comes to a stop as the buses pass a barrier to reach the industrial port area of the commune of Gioia Tauro and makes its way through deep container gorges and along huge cranes. The buses stop at a remote part of the port in front of a high fence. Behind it there are many barracks The workers get out of the bus, they stream in three snakes through revolving doors in the fence to the area behind. When Carlo arrives at the gate, he briefly presses his index finger on a sensor. He glances along his arm, where it says “WhatsApp1newmessage MATTM:263”.
The workers are spread all over the harbour area, some disappear into the barracks, most walk towards the temporary docks. There are many small ships moored, they are very reminiscent of fishing boats. Carlo walks along the docks until he reaches the ship with the number 263 and enters it hastily. He checks the equipment for completeness, makes sure that his crop tools from algaeferrum are in the correct position on the belt and walks along the railing into the driver’s cab. Carlo quickly takes off his sneakers, puts on his silver protective suit and slips into his boots. Now he’s working on the control panel. He presses his finger on a sensor again and three monitors show a lot of windows with cards and pictures. When Carlo releases the ropes outside, he pulls a thick plug from the electric ship. Already a few dozen boats have left the harbour and are moving in different directions. When Carlo starts the engine, there is a humming sound. He remembers well that his fishing boat had a noisy 2-stroke diesel engine. With one finger he presses an exclamation symbol emerging on the map of the display and the boat starts.

The route runs straight over the sea that shines in the morning sun. Carlo asks the on-board computer about the weather for tomorrow: sun and 28° C. The average temperature in southern Italy exceeded the 2°C limit in 2029. Precipitation rates have decreased by 30%. With the warming of the Mediterranean Sea, algae plantations have become attractive, most of which are used as raw materials.
After twenty minutes the boat slows down. Now some symbols flash on the display and a beeping sound is heard. Carlo puts on the huge hood and puts on the gloves with the lead coating. He is happy about these clothes, not only because they protect him from the poisons he is exposed to during his work, but also because he feels the sun burning on the ship’s deck and without the cooling clothes it would be unbearable in the midday heat. Slowly the boat approaches many small buoys, which all swing in a grid quietly in the water at a distance of 4 meters. The beep stops when the boat comes to a stop in the middle of the buoys. Now Carlo takes his hauling hook and catches up with the buoy. With the mandrel Carlo loosens the knot of the rope, on which thick, leathery, brown-green algae are attached. He threads it through a round knife into the winch. Carlo opens the hatch in the deck under the funnel-shaped knife. There are collecting containers in the hold directly underneath. Now the algae fisherman starts the motor of the rope winch and the rope quickly pulls itself through the funnel knife, whereby the algae on the rope are detached and disappear into the cargo hold. During the day Carlo will travel to 17 further algae fields. The collected algae are incinerated in the factory next to the port. They contain dioxins, arsenic and other pollutants, including heavy metals such as lead, chromium, cobalt, nickel, manganese and zinc. These heavy metals are extracted from the algae and sold for further industrial use.
From the beginning of the 21st century until the year 2025, organized crime has scorched through 60,000 tons of toxic waste from all over Europe in the Mediterranean. In 2008, the estimated annual turnover of illegal toxic waste deals at $12 billion.