Almost half of the world’s seafood now comes from fish farms, which can cause significant environmental harm if not responsibly managed.
Because many fish are confined to a small area, aquaculture can lead to high levels of pollution and outbreaks of diseases. Sometimes the farmed fish escape, which can hurt wild fish populations and the local ecosystem. Aquaculture can also lead to overfishing since carnivorous fish, like salmon and tuna, are fed large amounts of fishmeal made from prey fish like anchovies or herrings.
The Velella Project is an experiment off the coast of Hawaii that is trying to address some of the problems associated with aquaculture. Instead of enclosing fish in stationary nets or tanks like traditional farming methods, a specially-designed spherical pen, called the Aquapod, drifts through the water containing 2,000 hatchery born fish.
The world’s appetite for fish continues to grow. Fish stocks, though? Not so much.
That’s the bottom line from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which released its latest State of the World's Fisheries and Aquaculture report yesterday. Global per capita consumption of fish reached a "new all-time high" in 2008.
Here are some of the facts from the report:
- Fish consumption increased to an estimated 17.1 kilograms per person in 2008, up from 16.9 kilograms in 2007.
- Fisheries and aquaculture support the livelihoods of an estimated 540 million people, roughly 8 percent of the world's population.
- Much of the increase is due to fish farming, which is set to overtake fisheries as the main source of seafood.
- In the early 1950s, aquaculture production was less than one million tonnes per year; in 2008 it was 52.5 million tonnes worth $98.4 billion US, the report authors said.
- There has been no improvement in the level of global fish stocks -- the overall percentage of overfished, depleted or recovering stocks is expected to be slightly higher than in 2006.
- Slightly more than half of the world's fisheries were estimated to be "fully exploited," meaning their current catches are "at or close to their maximum sustainable productions, with no room for further expansion."
- About 32 per cent of world fish stocks are estimated to be overexploited, depleted or recovering and need to be rebuilt, the report said.
Today marks the global launch of a short documentary exposé from the Pure Salmon Campaign about the damaging effects of salmon farms worldwide. “Farmed Salmon Exposed: The Global Reach of the Norwegian Salmon Farming Industry” reveals the environmental, socioeconomic and cultural effects of salmon aquaculture. The film includes appearances by Alex Muñoz and Dr. Matthias Gorny from Oceana in Chile, and Oceana board member Dr. Daniel Pauly.
Watch the film below and pass it on to your friends and family.
Oceana's VP for South America, Alex Muñoz, and board member Dr. Daniel Pauly both contributed to a new documentary about the damages caused by the farmed salmon industry in the cold waters of Norway, Chile and British Columbia. Oceana has been working to forestall the expansion of Chile's troubled aquaculture industry into Patagonia as well as clean up the industry already built in other areas along Chile's coast.
Check out the trailer for "Farmed Salmon Exposed" below: