Can aquaculture feed the world with protein sustainably?

Swimming in controversy: In a world of growing population and shrinking ocean resources, aquaculture is often touted as a necessary tool for food production. And yet many criticize the damage that aquaculture does to wild ecosystems, its use of chemicals, and other unsavory practices. Environmental Health Perspectives wades into the topic with a balanced introduction to some aquaculture issues, like the use of anti-infectives, innovations in farming methods, organic standards, and more. The use of wild-caught fish to feed farmed fish is one of the practices that has justly received significant criticism, as it takes several pounds of fish to grow a pound of farmed salmon. A collaboration between USDA and NOAA is trying to reduce the need for wild fish inputs via research into alternative feeds like plant proteins and insect-based feed, or even better, utilization of scraps from fish-processing plants. The piece concludes with discussion of the USDA’s efforts to create an organic standard, and news about two other certification plans in progress — one from the World Wildlife Fund and another from the Global Aquaculture Alliance, which is supported by such heavyweights as Wal-Mart and the owner of Red Lobster. (Environmental Health Perspectives)

One Responseto “Can aquaculture feed the world with protein sustainably?”

  1. Ess says:

    I think one of the biggest ideas to throw out is the one that protein has to come from animal sources and next toss that one about how we need it so very much. Plant proteins are quite good, calorie for calorie broccoli has more than beef, and plants come with a lot of other great nutrients we often miss out on in our rush to consume meats, fish, and dairy. Also plants are low in fats and completely missing the cholesterol but they are often quite big on fiber which scrubs excess cholesterol out.

    Really, where do we think the animals that get eaten by us find their protein? Cows don’t normally consume other cows if left to their own devices and elephants certainly don’t (nor do they take any guff off of lions, who by the way only live for about 8 years or so if they aren’t killed by other lions or humans mad about raids on the livestock). Before the mention gets made about ruminants with extra stomaches I’ll point out that kangaroos are not and they can take you in a boxing event.

    Honestly, it astounds me what lengths people will go to avoiding their veggies. I do wonder what the hang-up is since if we actually think about it the alternatives are quite gross. A bird’s wing? A pig’s belly? A cow’s stomach? Along with all the ailments physical, environmental, economical and more that go with it. But not a carrot?