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If you eat seafood, unless you catch it yourself or ask the right questions, the odds are pretty good it comes from a fish farm. The aquaculture industry is like a whale on steroids, growing faster than any other animal agriculture segment and now accounting for half the fish eaten in the U.S.
As commercial fishing operations continue to strip the world’s oceans of life, with one-third of fishing stocks collapsed and the rest headed there by mid-century, fish farming is seen as a way to meet the world’s growing demand. But is it really the silver bullet to solve the Earth’s food needs? Can marine farms reliably satisfy the seafood cravings of three billion people around the globe?
The Problem with Commercial Fishing
This article looks at aquaculture and its long-term effects on fish, people, and other animals. With this industry regularly touted as a paragon of food production, whether you eat seafood or not, you should know these nine key facts about farmed fish.
1. Farmed Fish Have Dubious Nutritional Value
Here’s a frustrating paradox for those who eat fish for their health: the nutritional benefits of fish are greatly decreased when it’s farmed. Take omega-3 fatty acids. Wild fish get their omega-3’s from aquatic plants. Farmed fish, however, are often fed corn, soy, or other feedstuffs that contain little or no omega-3’s. This unnatural, high-corn diet also means some farmed fish accumulate unhealthy levels of the wrong fatty acids. Further, farmed fish are routinely dosed with antibiotics, which can cause antibiotic-resistant disease in humans.
2. The Farmed Fishing Industry Robs Peter to Pay Paul
While some farmed fish can live on diets of corn or soy, others need to eat fish – and lots of it. Tuna and salmon, for example, need to eat up to five pounds of fish for each pound of body weight. The result is that prey (fish like anchovies and herring) are being fished to the brink of extinction to feed the world’s fish farms.
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