EDFish

Selected tag(s): Aquaculture

The promise and peril of manufactured seafood

Credit: Marco Verch via Flickr Creative Commons

Today, there are only two ways to produce seafood: fishermen can catch wild fish, or fish can be farmed in a process called aquaculture. Both methods have many benefits, but also can have adverse impacts on the environment. A growing number of companies are trying to develop alternative ways to produce “seafood,” like “tuna” made by growing tuna cells in a lab.

Will these alternatives make it commercially? If they do, will that result in big environmental benefits or contribute to food security? Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) recently looked into these questions. Read More »

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FAO Reports 87% of the World’s Fisheries are Overexploited or Fully Exploited

FAO Logo

The Food and Agriculture Organization has some good news and some bad news for us about the world’s fisheries (State of the World Fisheries & Aquaculture Report).  The good news is that global fisheries and aquaculture production increased over the last few years, and people are eating more fish – a healthy source of protein.  The bad news is that ocean fish catches went down and the percentage of the world’s assessed fish stocks that are overexploited or fully exploited went up to 87%.  Aquaculture, the farming of fish, is increasing rapidly to meet growing consumer demand for seafood.  While some aquaculture production operations have small environmental footprints, the sustainability of the industry overall is unknown.  What does it mean for ocean productivity and the health of ocean ecosystems to remove 15 million tons of fish (19% of the total catch) every year and feed it to other fish?

The truly scary story behind the headlines is that these data only provide a glimpse of the whole picture, which is uncertain but troubling.  The FAO’s estimates of fishery status (e.g., the number of stocks that are fully exploited or overexploited) are based on studies of only a tiny fraction of the world’s fisheries.  These are the best managed fisheries in the world — thousands of other stocks are not assessed at all, and many have minimal or ineffective management systems in place.  Moreover, a lot of these un-assessed and undermanaged fisheries are prosecuted in tropical coral reefs and other ecosystems that harbor a wealth of the ocean’s biodiversity.  Recent studies suggest coral reefs are especially sensitive to fishing, tipping from healthy to unhealthy conditions when too many fish are harvested. Read More »

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FAO Releases 2010 Report on the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture

Cover of the FAO 2010 Report on Fisheries and AquacultureThe Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently reported that fish consumption is at an all-time high globally, and “more people than ever are employed in or depend on the [fisheries and aquaculture] sector.” According to the FAO report, “The overall percentage of overexploited, depleted or recovering fish stocks in the world’s oceans has not dropped and is estimated to be slightly higher than in 2006.” This data demonstrates the continued need for innovative fishery management systems that ensure fishermen livelihoods all while ending overfishing and rebuilding fish stocks.

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