The future of fish

Industrial farming seems to be inevitable

July 27, 2011

Time magazine recently put fish on its cover, with an article titled "The End of the Line." In case you hadn’t heard, our oceans are being stripped of their edible flesh, notes reporter Bryan Walsh:

The worldwide catch seems to have plateaued at about 90 million tons a year since the mid-1990s. That’s a lot of fish, but even if those levels prove sustainable, it’s not enough to keep up with global seafood consumption, which has risen from 22 lb. per person per year in the 1960s to nearly 38 lb. today. With hundreds of millions of people joining the middle class in the developing world and fish increasingly seen as a tasty and heart-healthy form of protein, that trend will continue. The inescapable conclusion: there just isn’t enough seafood in the seas.

Can fish farming — especially fish grown in tanks on land, not controversial ocean pens — feed our demand and save the seas at the same time? “We’ve farmed the land. Now we have little choice but to farm the sea as well,” writes Walsh.

Sure, industrial aquaculture has many controversies, ranging from environmental degradation to antibiotics overuse to genetically modified fish to the poorer nutritional quality of farmed fish compared with wild fish. But, as Walsh points out, when stacked up against the iniquities of industrial meat production, fish is a winner.

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