Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Aquaculture now provides half of all fish worldwide

Half Of Fish Consumed Globally Is Now Raised On Farms, Study Finds

"Aquaculture, once a fledgling industry, now accounts for 50 percent of the fish consumed globally, according to a new report by an international team of researchers. And while the industry is more efficient than ever, it is also putting a significant strain on marine resources by consuming large amounts of feed made from wild fish harvested from the sea, the authors conclude."
And that, in essence is one of the central problems of fish farming. Smaller fish, which have been a mainstay in the diet of hundreds of millions of people around the world, are being turned into food pellets (with lots of antibiotics and other chemicals added) for larger fish, like salmon, so that there is a regular supply of cheap fish in western supermarkets and restaurants.

I've been reading Bottomfeeder: How to eat ethically in a world of vanishing seafood by Taras Grescoe this summer. I heard him speak last spring at the library. It's a fascinating look at seafood, and fish in general and the environmental catastrophies which are being caused by the fishing industry. We've all heard about the demise of the eastern cod. And the western salmon. As the oceans are sucked dry of fish by mega-trawlers which not only catch millions of tons of "unwanted" fish, they are destroying the ocean bottom as well, killing coral reefs which provide homes to so many other species.

Chilean fish farm

Grescoe explores these, and many other related sad tales of the ways in which corporations are ruining the livelihood of fisherpeople and the environment. There are more sustainable ways in which the fisheries can be maintained and aquaculture developed. However, big "FISH" is not about to sacrifice any short-term profits by building these additional sustainability costs into the price of salmon and shrimp any time soon. There's just too much money for their stockholders to earn by taking as many fish as possible now. Consumers expect their cheap shrimps even if it means continued degradation of the world's mangrove forests.

In the appendix of Bottomfeeder is a list and description of which fish should and should not be eaten. Below is a summary of that list.
No, Never
Bluefin tuna. Overfished. Mercury. (4.43)
Cod, Atlantic. Fished by pirate vessels. Bottom-trawled. (4.42)
Halibut, Atlantic. Mercury. Bottom-trawled. (4.53)
Chilean sea bass. Longlines, bottom-trawls. Mercury. Pirate vessels. (3.96)
Grouper. Longlined. Mercury. (3.60)

Depends, Sometimes
Abalone. Illegally fished. (2.00)
Anchovy. Overfished. (3.11)
Catfish. Antibiotics. (3.87)
Clams. Dredged. (2.00)
Cod, Pacific. Trawled. (4.01)
Crab. (Blue crab, 2.60)
Haddock. (4.09)

Absolutely, Always
Arctic char; barramundi. (4.26; 4.35)
Halibut, Pacific. (4.13)
Herring. (3.23)
Jellyfish. (2.00)
Mackerel. (3.65)
Mullet. (2.13)
Oysters, mussels... and many more.

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