Fish Farms:  Good Intentions,
Bad Results.

Fish farms are generally situated in large land-based tanks or enclosures or in large offshore pens in bays or ocean locales.  All of them create environmental problems from concentrated feces, urine and feed that always results from raising animals or fish in close confinement.

The new second edition of Aquaculture and the Environment contains valuable information on the impact of genetically modified food products and a new chapter on the sustainability of aquaculture.

It covers the definitions of sustainability and responsible aquaculture, environmental, economic, social and ethical aspects of sustainability and the concept of ecotechnology in fish farming.  It is essential reading for all personnel working with captive fish feeding operations and for those moving into the aquatic farm business.

This book should be in the personal library of environmental scientists, ecologists, conservationists, fish and shellfish biologist and all those involved in the preservation of aquatic environments.  Click on the link or the image of the book above to buy it or get more information.

Offshore Fish Pens are not the Answer...
They are the Problem

It has always been thought that the offshore fish factories were environmentally cleaner and they probably are but an article from the Los Angeles Times, "Waste From Fish Farming Spreads Far", in February 2009 by Catherine Ho summarized the offshore pollution quite well.

The short version is that fluid dynamics modeling using new software showed that waste from captive fish operations travels farther and in higher concentrations than previously thought.

The book Swimming in Circles: Aquaculture and the End of Wild Oceans

by Paul Molyneaux lays out the rationale for fish farms; namely, increasing the world food supply and creating jobs in areas hard hit by declining landings in wild fisheries.

However, as his book points out, the reality is quite different from the theory.  Ravaged ecosystems and bankrupted local economies are the results that Molyneaux describes based on case studies he conducted near his homes in eastern Maine, and Sonora, Mexico.  He then links the adverse outcomes to events in other parts of the world.

The author's 30 years experience in fisheries and aquaculture qualifies him to weigh the rhetoric and sift out the truth of this story.  Click on the book cover to examine this work and buy it if it strikes a chord.

Continuing on, one unforeseen consequence of fish farming is that currents that flush out the fish pens could ultimately carry the waste to a public beach or mangrove ecosystem.

But if not enough currents flow through the pen, fecal matter and uneaten food could pile up beneath the fish and create a "dead zone" on the ocean floor -- an area where there's not enough oxygen in the water for plants and animals to survive.

This was validated by a couple of postings to the LA Times article that are very interesting.  One from a U.S. biologist studying fish CAFO waste in British Columbia says, "The bottom fish that I study near these mounds [of waste] are disfigured with tumors and parasites. It's a nasty business and would be better done in tanks."  

The article also pulled in a couple of posts from GROWfish, the aquaculture portal of GAIN, the Gippsland Aquaculture Industry Network in SE Australia.

While a bit heavy in sarcasm, they rightly made the point that more research needs to be done and also raise the very important question of bycatch.  GAIN runs a very informative website with numerous aquaculture articles from around the world.  It is a good counterpoint to the aquaculture detractors.   

As a side-note to concentrated fish feeding operations, we have a conundrum.  Is the pollution caused by large captive fish growing operations offset by the elimination of bycatch that would occur if not for the farms? 

If a quantitative determination could be made regarding how much sea life is killed by aquaculture pollution then there would be some basis for action, whether it be expansion of Clean Water Act regulations or improvements or new methods in fish farm waste management.

A Sustainable Fish Farm;
A Real Live Example

It is just possible that one person, who happens to be a master chef and animal welfare advocate and environmentalist may have stumbled on the answer to real sustainability in fish aquaculture.  Listen and learn from what has happened in the Southwest corner of Spain.  Truly Awesome! 

As he says in the closing comments of the embedded You Tube video, we don't have to concern ourself with feeding the world.  What must be done is to create conditions that allows each community to feed itself.  It can be done. 

His final comments are insigthful but he has articulated the death of the agribusiness model in favor of an ecological, environmental model.  The current farm factory, fish factory and big monoculture approach to crop production is a study in big business liquidating itself.  Find out why in the video. 

Who is this amazing person?  Watch Dan Barber delivering a TED lecture on How I Fell In Love With a Fish.  It is priceless, entertaining and informative and points the way to how fish farms should be set up and managed.

For more in this website concerning fish, raising them and catching them, go to fish farming.

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Effects of Factory Farming on our Health
Factory Farms and Community Health
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