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Caution in the Chaos of Aquaculture

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - High global demand has led to a booming aquaculture industry in Latin America, but Argentina is yet to join the race.

According to a report by IPS, fish farming is expanding in Latin America, fuelled by the demands of a global market that is facing the stagnation of commercial fishing. But some people are warning about the limits of industrial production of fish and the environmental and social risks, writes Marcele Valente.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 45 percent of the fish consumed in the world comes from fish farms. Today that means 48 million tonnes, but by 2030 that volume would have to be doubled because of the decline in commercial fishing and the increasing demands of a growing population.

IPS reports that currently, fish farms in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru produce volumes that are the envy of Argentine producers. But in Argentina, the continent's southernmost country, the climate and topographic conditions are not conducive to developing large-scale fish farming, say some experts and activists.

Environmentalists here point out that the social and environmental harm that can arise from aquaculture do not justify industrial-level promotion, and recommend instead fomenting responsible fishing in seas and rivers that still have a rich biodiversity.