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Inspired (loosely) by societies like the Gunditjmara and natives of the Pacific Northwest, I always have envisioned a system of aquaculture for one of my concultures, though agricultural studies are hardly my forte, so I figure I should make sure that my system is feasible, and that there are no glaring mistakes.

The society in question lives in a cool temperate climate; summer highs are in the low 60s Fahrenheit, winter lows drop into the 20s Fahrenheit, with low pressure systems from the west bringing rain year-round. It's roughly analogous to the southern tip of Chile.

Broadly speaking, the west is mountainous fjord country and the east transitions from higher land in the interior to a coastal plain. The eastern side is a bit more continental and much drier than the western climate, due to föhn winds as well as more persistent winter cold fronts.

My idea was that people on the northern part of the western coast would invent a form of aquaculture, maybe first by harvesting tide pools and littoral environments, and then by building small structures where they would grow products like kelp, mussels, sea slugs, and fish together in a kind of mini-ecosystem, resembling modern Integrated Multi Tropic level Aquaculture (IMTA).

This would be supplemented by learning to grow tubers and peas, as well as trading for livestock (llamas, maybe sheep) from herders in the highlands.

I know that neither my western nor eastern regions are the kind of subtropical river valley paradises where complex societies emerge the best, but I'm willing to have these people take some more time to have a food surplus and create a civilization in their own, cool temperate environment. I'd just like criticism on whether this is a feasible path and whether the eastern coast is actually a better place than the west for the emergence of a civilization (I always imagined a vibrant urban and maritime culture emerging along the west coast).

Thanks

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    $\begingroup$ Humanity specifically (and evolution generally) always takes the path of least resistance. If it's easier to trade for or herd cattle, humans won't take the time to develop advanced aquaculture tech. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. So, what necessity is driving your people to develop aquaculture on a commercial scale? A lack of trade and overpopulation might do it. Remember, a lot of people investigate tech only after all the easier paths are taken. Until then, just one guy, if any, is looking into it ... and he's usually thought of as a kook. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 31 '18 at 4:51
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    $\begingroup$ My point is technology breeds technology. We stand on the top of a pyramid of innovation, experimentation, empirical wisdom, and the efforts of an enormous number of dreamers, thinkers, and believers. You're asking if it's possible to pull something out of the pyramid and push it closer to the bottom... but that normally requires pushing everything beside and below down with it. You need a pivot, a lever, something that explains why (e.g.) better aquaculture didn't lead to better irrigation, etc. It's possible, but only if you come up with the justifying limitation, but that's not our job. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 31 '18 at 6:39
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    $\begingroup$ Could you write a more meaningful title? Now it is just two tags glued together and does not help to tell what this question is about, when looking at the list $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jan 31 '18 at 8:30
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    $\begingroup$ You did miss my point. It's very difficult to have one technology but not another. Aquaculture (which requires the control of water) and irrigation (which requires the control of water) are two such. Path of least resistance. Why would your people have aquaculture but not irrigation? You have a flaw in that you do not describe a limitation that justifies the technological atrophy required to achieve your goal. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 31 '18 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ Because they have an ocean right next to them; make a ditch or depression, flood it with seawater, close it off with a well made net and harvest like seaweed and shellfish inside. That's a far cry from an advanced system of dikes like in China. Plus what would they need irrigation for? I said there was year-round rain; crops get enough water as it is. You don't have to build irrigated crop fields if you live in a climate that receives in excess of 50 inches of rain a year. $\endgroup$ – Antarctica07 Jan 31 '18 at 16:16
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This is possible. Aquaculture has been done in early history by various groups. The Australian aboriginals in Gunditjmara country made fairly impressive flooded ditches that eels would swim into and become trapped. This was done possibly as early as 3500 years ago. While the terrain in your world may make such widespread irrigation unlikely, done on a smaller scale all along the coast to trap animals as the tide goes out would be easy.

In 475BCE, a Chinese official wrote a book about how to raise fish in specially prepared ponds. They also did something similar in Rome who also raised oysters away from the ocean, and apparently later on some castle moats were stocked with game fish.

The Chinese aquaculture saw the carp go around Asia as a pet and food source. The migration of Chinese familiar with aquaculture also spread it to Southeast Asia, where they trapped and raised various fish that were native to that area.

While aquaculture never overcame land based agriculture or a semi-nomadic lifestyle, it was done. There is no reason it couldn't be the main source of food for your people. With the rivers and lakes full of freshwater fish that exist in that type of environment, it would be reasonable to see aquaculture move inland. This would encourage agriculture as the ditches and man made lagoons would create well watered mounds of soft dirt for legumes and root vegetables. At first they would be seen as a nice little side affect, and then large scale farming and aquaculture could happen together. This would be similar to how Chinese farmers encourage a fresh water eel to enter the flooded rice fields, only to harvest them later.

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