Farmed fish production is on a dramatic upswing, which may mean disaster for the future of natural food production.
An environmental think tank called the Earth Policy Institute has revealed that where 2012 marked the first year that the world’s farmed fish production overtook both beef production, 2013 has revealed that farmed fish production has surpassed wild fish production. This significant milestone reflects an historic shift in food production trends.
Beef production has been slowing since the late 1980s due to the increasing price of grain and soybeans traditionally used to feed cattle. Aquaculture experts realized that raising fish was much more efficient than raising cattle, as fish consume two pounds of feed to a cattle’s seven. Thus, fishing trends boomed in the beef industry’s wake.
The evolution from wild fishing culture to farmed fishing production, however, brought a decline in efficiency as well. Farmed fish are fed with smaller fish, which increases the system’s inputs while maintaining the same, small output. Further, recent studies have revealed that farmed fish may have lost their health benefits in the process.
The Earth Policy Institute warns that reliance on farmed fishing may have the same problematic effects for the environment and health as relying on factory-farmed beef and poultry.
Regardless of the controversy, fish are still a great source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals, and are part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. The group accepts that farming seafood can be done in a way that respect environmental limits and maintains the nutritional quality of the fish, and is working to persuade major fish farming industry leaders to adjust their practices.