This week, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released its latest report on the state of the world’s wild fisheries, and as The Huff Post reports (from a Reuters article), the organization predicts a major increase in both fish consumption and aquaculture output to meet that demand. By 2018, farmed fish will account for more than half of world fish consumption.
The increase in aquaculture worldwide is often attributed to a need to feed a growing population – experts estimate world population will reach 9 billion by 2050 – and expect a serious decline in wild fish stocks as well. Raising more fish can be a great way to feed people BUT depending on the type of fish farm, there may be very serious environmental costs. Open-water aquaculture methods, including those in coastal areas and huge net pens that float in open ocean waters, can wreak havoc on their surroundings, causing pollution, spreading and increasing parasites and diseases, and harming already stressed and struggling marine wildlife.
So why not get behind a movement for sustainable aquaculture? Recirculating aquaculture is an on-land, closed-loop method of raising fish, so it does not interact with fragile ocean ecosystems.. It can be done outdoors, inside and in virtually any climate. Recirculating farms can raise fish without harming the environment: they can run off the grid by relying on renewable energy like solar, geothermal or wind power; use mainly rainwater, which is recycled and reused; and can also repurpose waste. These farms can bring fresh fish to areas far from the coast, giving land-locked places access to an important – and delicious – protein source without harmful environmental repercussions. Because recirculating farms are generally self-contained and not attached to any bodies of water, fish in the farm have a much harder time escaping, and things outside the farm, like diseases and parasites, rarely get in, so drugs and other chemicals aren’t needed to keep fish healthy and the system clean. This in turn means less chemicals in our seafood. And these farms can grow plants – vegetables, fruits, and herbs – too right along with the fish (check out some photos and a video about a NY recirculating farm).
Recirculating farms are developing ways to eliminate wild fish from the diet of their farmed fish – finding alternate – but still healthy and natural – foods to feed their fish. We’re working to ensure that more new fish farms in the United States and worldwide are recirculating ones so that we can feed the growing appetite for fish more sustainably.
Learn more about the advantages of recirculating fish farms. And if you’re interested in more details about the state of wild fisheries and worldwide aquaculture, you can access the full FAO report.