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Well Farmed Fish Could Help Feed the World

by Ellen Hardy
11 September 2008, at 1:00am

US - Nearly half of the seafood eaten today is farmed. And while aquaculture is often equated with pollution, habitat degradation, and health risks, this explosive growth in fish farming may in fact be the most hopeful trend in the worlds troubled food system, according to a new report by a leading US think tank.

Brian Halweil, Senior Researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, argues that if properly guided, fish farming can not only help feed an expanding global population, but also play a role in healing marine ecosystems battered by overfishing, reports People and Planet.

“In a world where fresh water and grain supplies are increasingly scarce, raising seafood like oysters, clams, catfish, and tilapia is many times more efficient than factory-farmed chicken or beef,” Halweil told People and Planet. “Farmed fish can be a critical way to add to the global diet to hedge against potential crop losses or shortages in the supply of meat.”

“But not all fish farming is created equal,” Halweil notes. Carnivorous species like salmon and shrimp, while increasingly popular, consume several times their weight in fish feed — derived from other, typically smaller, fish — as they provide in edible seafood.

“It generally requires 20 kilograms of feed to produce just 1 kilogram of tuna,” Halweil says. “So even as we depend more on farmed fish, a growing scarcity of fish feed may jeopardize future expansion of the industry.”

Ellen Hardy