EATING OUR WAY TO EXTINCTION takes audiences on a cinematic journey around the world, from the depths of the Amazon rainforests to the Taiwanese Mountains, the Mongolian desert, the US Dust Bowl, the Norwegian Fjords and the Scottish coastlines, telling the story of our planet through shocking testimonials, poignant accounts from indigenous people most affected by our ever-changing planet, globally renowned figures and leading scientists.
Despite all the positive returns from aquaculture, it has not come up smelling of roses. Take British Columbia, Canada, for instance.
The new “blue revolution,” which has delivered cheap, vacuum-packed shrimp, salmon, and tilapia to grocery freezers, has brought with it many of the warts of agriculture on land: habitat destruction, water pollution, and food-safety scares.
We conclude that marine finfish aquaculture would largely fail to deliver the food and nutrition security and environmental sustainability gains claimed due to biological, technical, and economic constraints.
The biggest challenge to farming fish is feeding them. Food constitutes roughly seventy per cent of the industry’s overhead, and so far the only commercially viable form is fish meal. About a quarter of all fish caught globally at sea end up as fish meal, produced by factories like those on the Gambian coast.
The noble promise of aquaculture — to create more food for a growing world population — has, in some cases, only repeated the errors of land-based industrial agriculture.
How aquaculture might meet most of the world's demand for fish without ruining the environment.
Many diets that are better for our health, and the planet’s, call for eating more fish. Where will it all come from?
Are Omega-3 fatty acids one of nature's wonder supplements or are we just destroying the fish and the oceans and ultimately ourselves in the quest for health?
Despite impressive gains, the aquaculture sector still faces serious challenges that, in some cases, undermine its ability to achieve sustainable outcomes.
But many biologists worry that the big business of tilapia farming will outweigh caution, leaving dead lakes and extinct species.
But large-scale aquaculture can have significant environmental consequences. It can take a lot of wild fish to feed certain farmed fish. And when tons of fish are crowded together, they create a lot of waste, which can pollute the ocean. Fish farms can also be breeding grounds for disease. Plus, shrimp farming in Indonesia is at least partly responsible for the region's declining mangrove forests.
A common complaint by green types is that fish farming does not relieve as much pressure on the oceans as it appears to, because a lot of the feed it uses is made of fish meal.
Sewage and wastewater discharged from fish farms is also associated with toxic algal blooms and polluted drinking water.
Fish farming now accounts for half of all fish consumed worldwide, according to Stanford University. Yet the process has its disadvantages, ranging from disease control to environmental hazards.
Now that half of the seafood consumed around the world comes from aquaculture, a number of environmental concerns — from overuse of antibiotics, to pollution, to sources of fish feed — are emerging at these farms.
The problem is that the oceans are being rapidly depleted of fish. Scientists say we reached “peak fish” some 30 years ago, meaning that we are no longer able to extract more every year from the ocean without the risk of a collapse of the global fisheries. The answer, they say, is farming. Not farming the land, but farming the ocean.
Open net-cage aquaculture provides no barrier between the farmed fish and their surrounding environment. This means that enormous amounts of fish feed, feces and chemicals are released in to the environment every day, often causing inhabitable conditions for other species. In B.C. alone, salmon farms produce the same amount of waste as a city of half a million people.
Fish farms can also create the perfect environment for disease transmission. In open net-cages, these diseases can then easily spread to wild fish, wreaking havoc on local populations.
There are other collateral problems created by industrial scale aquaculture: the destruction of coastal habitats through waste disposal, the introduction of diseases and the possible escape of exotic species that can threaten indigenous breeds. Halweil says we need to farm fish in ways that more closely "mimic the oceans," combining multiple, complementary species, including "cleaner fish" to control sea lice, for instance, as some farms already do in Norway.
For the past 14 years, community beach cleanups have measured the plastic in Baynes Sound. An astonishing four to six tonnes of plastic debris, including anti-predator netting, plastics trays, ropes and styrofoam, is collected from the beaches annually. Now polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping, used for the farming of geoducks is also being washed ashore.
Fish are farmed in higher numbers than any other animal, but they haven’t gotten much attention from the animal welfare movement — until now.
It’s the salmon farms, not the risks of dioxin in farmed salmon, that we ought to be worried about.
The world is eating more fish than ever before. But we're not really catching many more wild fish than we did in the mid-1990s.
How is that possible? Fish farming.
With a decades long global consumption boom depleting natural fish populations of all kinds, demand is increasingly being met by farm-grown seafood.
... fish farming uses a lot of chemicals in the production process. The combination of fertilizers, chemicals added fishmeal and water, antibiotics, and pesticides can make the water runoff from fish farms toxic.
This water will find its way into local waterways and eventually back into the ocean. Beyond polluting the local marine ecosystems, this runoff can find its way into the local water supply meant for human consumption.