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

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora