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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Survival of Fish - Benefits of Aquaculture

Image of fish farm plant by iStockphoto/Vik Thomas
Over-fishing is hardly news, but this weeks's Time Magazine (7/18/2011) considers it a cover story to talk about the future of fish. Sustainable fishing practices, farmed fish, GM fish and the environmental controversy about aquaculture are all explored.

The main issue is the significant demand for fish. Since the 1960's world consumption of fish has increased by more than 70% so aquaculture is inevitable.

Farming fish is not a new endeavor. The Chinese raised fish for food as early as 2500BC and today they produce 61% of the world's farmed fish. Cold-blooded  fish are efficient farm animals because most of the food they consume becomes meat. But just as with crowded feedlots, there are environmental issues related to energy consumption and pollution. And since species like salmon and sea bass eat other fish, there are questions of sustainability.

Commercial fishing is not going to disappear and the situation of over fishing in the US is less dire than before. Catch-share programs which set limits and control catch to target levels have helped.  The same consumers that pay a premium for organic produce will support wild fish at a higher price.

For the rest of us, even though farmed fish may not have the same taste or nutritional value as wild fish, out of necessity we will learn to like them.

1 comment :

Jenny Warila said...

Very interesting. I learn something new from just about every post! Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge and research.

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