Factory Fishing

Wild fish populations can no longer meet the massive buyer demand for seafood, and fish-farming (or ‘aquaculture’) has become the fastest growing sector of global food production, reports The Fishing Hole.

fish farmRegrettably, many industrial aquaculture facilities are similar to livestock factory farms in that they house large numbers of animals in small, unsanitary facilities that pose immense environmental and human health risks.  Open water aquaculture facilities house thousands of fish within small netpens or cages that allow extremely harmful pollutants, fish feces, uneaten feed, pesticides and pharmaceuticals to pass directly into the surrounding water.

Even worse – in many cases, aquaculture facilities use wild fish populations to create feed for farmed carnivorous species.  The Fishing Hole estimates that 2.7 to 3.5 pounds of wild fish are used to produce one pound of farmed salmon.  What is more, as a result of net damage many facilities release substantial numbers of non-native fish into the environment, which poses a great threat to ecosystems by causing competition for resources.  There is also a risk that the escaped farmed fish may breed with their wild counterparts, thereby introducing farmed genetic traits into the gene pool.  Certain forms of aquaculture such as land-based farming operations that refrain from using antibiotics/chemicals and small-scale aquaponic operations that use plants to filter out waste can be conducted safely however.

Gardener in Red Wellies Picking Ripe TomatoesIn a world of industrialized livestock and aquaculture it is difficult to imagine a time without factory farms, but the USDA’s When Beans Were Bullets exhibit in Beltsville, Maryland reminds visitors of a simpler time.  The display features food and agriculture posters from World Wars I and II.  How were the home front populations encouraged to eat in order to put the nation’s interest first?  Eat locally, healthfully, and conscientiously, they were told, according to Food Safety News.  The exhibit may inspire modern day citizens to cultivate and eat food the old-fashioned way- fresh and responsibly.

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