Will fish farms feed the world?

Stefano Mariani at Global Food Security shows us a thoughtful article about whether fishing should cease for a few years in European seas to let stocks recover. No, he says, what a daft idea. We’d merely be exporting the damage of overfishing to foreign seas and oceans.

Dr Mariani does consider that aquaculture could be an important factor in improving the world’s food supply. But he points out that existing systems for aquaculture rely heavily on wild-caught fish to feed the tasty farmed ones.

Recently I’ve blogged about the possibilities of terrestrial salmon farming, rooftop perch farming and polytunnel tilapia farming. Also about the existing industry of outdoor tilapia farming.

This week eivindburkow at The Coastal House tells us that the European Union (EU) is considering how aquaculture might help to fight hunger.


About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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9 Responses to Will fish farms feed the world?

  1. Anthropogen says:

    Here’s a recent BBC article about Mediterranean sea bass fish farms in the middle of the desert in Egypt, relying on very clean salt water that is pumped up from aquifers. I imagine the fish are still fed on food made from wild fish (probably sardine or anchovies from Chile), an issues in the sustainability of these systems as you mentioned above… http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19942183

    It’s interesting to look at numbers associated with how much weight in food a farmed fish of X lbs./kilos consumes in its lifetime.

    This brings up the possibility of farming fish that may not necessarily rely on food derived from wild caught fish. Maybe the S. American Pacu (also known as a “vegetarian pirana”) a large, tasty fish, would be a good contender as it’s main source of protein comes from seeds and nuts. Here’s a wikipedia link to Pacu: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacu

    • argylesock says:

      Thank you for these links.

      I’m cynical about the Egyptian sea bass farm. As you say, the food source for these farmed fish isn’t mentioned but it may be wild-caught fish. Also this new farm (described as ‘500% environmentally friendly’ by its owner, indicating that he knows very little about numbers!) relies on water pumped from an aquifer. I’d want a lot of evidence to convince me that this is anything like sustainable. We in Britain pump from aquifers (it’s called ‘abstraction’, as no doubt you know) and that requires careful management to reduce the depletion of the aquifer.

      The other thing that bothers me is the salt. We’re told that waste water from this farm is used to irrigate ‘special plants’ which tolerate salt. What are those plants? Have they been genetically engineered? How useful (or not) is their produce? What’s the impact of pouring salty water, full of fish poo, onto the desert?

      The pacu farming sounds more promising imo. I watch with interest. It won’t be suitable for Britain because it requires warmer water than ours, but perhaps we’ll see a future of exported pacu meat to tables around the world. Which, of course, brings up the question of food miles. But there may be potential for this to be a sustainable industry in future. Have you eaten pacu?

  2. Pingback: Food from acidifying waters | Science on the Land

  3. Pingback: Sustainable oceans? | Science on the Land

  4. tamraf says:

    Glad to read your post on aquaculture. I have been working with a company that remediates municipal wastewater via duckweed, then feeds that duckweed to tilapia. The intensive aquaculture system gets remediated as well by the duckweed and is fed to other animals. A very sustainable system that could be integrated in communities around the world. http://www.Agriquatics.com

  5. Pingback: Seabass aquaculture in North Wales | Science on the Land

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