News / Asia

Farmed Fish Feed More, Pollute Less

WorldFish Center, a private advocacy group, says sustainable seafood holds the key to global food needs

The growth in farmed fish has significantly outpaced growth in world population China supplying 61.5% of the global market.
The growth in farmed fish has significantly outpaced growth in world population China supplying 61.5% of the global market.

Multimedia

Audio
Rosanne Skirble

Farmed fish, if raised sustainably, can help feed the world, according to a report by the WorldFish Center, a private group that advocates sustainable fishing.    

As overfishing continues to deplete ocean fish populations, farmed fish have stepped in to fill the gap.  The report, presented at a conference in Thailand, finds the industry has grown at such a rapid pace that it now supplies nearly half the fish eaten on the planet.  

It compares farming practices and fish species across 18 countries.  WorldFish director general and report author Stephen Hall says it answers some basic questions “What works best?  What’s most efficient?  Which things do we need to pay most attention to when we try and think about improving the environmental performance of a very important food production sector?”

Ninety-one percent of farmed fish come from Asia, with China alone accounting for more than 61 percent of that production. Hall says from country to country, and across a range of production systems and fish species, the environmental impact of aquaculture varies widely.

“And that tells us that that there are huge opportunities for the best to learn from the worst and reduce the environmental impact across the globe.”

That impact can be considerable. Waste from poorly managed aquaculture ponds can pollute ground and coastal waters, and certain carnivorous species like salmon must be fed products made from other fish, like oil and meal - meaning continued pressure on wild fish populations.

While Asia dominates aquaculture production, fish farms are common across the globe as in this operation in Egypt. (Jamie Oliver)

The report finds that shrimp and prawn production methods in China had a greater impact on the environment than the methods used in Thailand or Vietnam. Hall notes that other marine species are more ecologically friendly.

“One of the real ‘good guys’ in this are the bivalves, the oysters and the mussels, which actually take up nutrients and actually remediate and improve the environment as one grows more of them.”

While the report did not look at the impact of farmed fish on wild fish populations or on disease, it did find that when comparing the impact on climate change, land use and energy demand, aquaculture fared much better ecologically than livestock. Consider, says Hall, that it takes 61 kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of beef protein, while the ratio for fish protein is only 13 to one.  

“And so when we make these decisions on what we eat and how we manage our environment and the resources we use to produce our food, fish are an important part of that equation because they are in the animal source food area, one of the groups that is particularly attractive for developing further.”

This Malawi fish farmer uses his pond waste water to irrigate his maize crop and boost his income.
This Malawi fish farmer uses his pond waste water to irrigate his maize crop and boost his income.

Industry experts predict that farmed fish output will increase 50 percent from current levels by 2030.

In the United States, which currently imports 84 percent of its seafood and produces less than 2 percent of the world’s cultivated fish - the Obama Administration has proposed new guidelines that would make it easier to set up fish farms in federal waters.

U.S. officials say expanding domestic aquaculture production will reduce pressure on wild ocean catch and cut the nation’s seafood imports.

While many environmental groups have expressed wariness about the rapid expansion of fish farming, the global aquaculture assessment released this week suggests that fish farming done well can be ecologically benign.  Sebastian Troeng is a vice president at Conservation International, a co-sponsor of the report.  He says among its key recommendations are increased innovation in aquaculture production, and better regulations in the part of the world where the sector is big and growing very rapidly.

Troeng adds that careful compliance with environmental regulations is also essential in reducing adverse impacts as the industry grows. “So we can understand where there is going to be a push to increase production and then help guide that production so that it doesn’t place unacceptable demands on the environment.”   

Troeng says the challenge is to get public officials, agencies, industry and communities to work together with a set of common goals that address world food needs while also protecting the environment.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid