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 Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid