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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid