Introduction ot Fish Farming
Fish farming is a small segment of aquaculture. While fish farming is still relatively unknown to the America and Europe, it has been used for centuries in Asia. The world has a problem, it craves fish. However, the fact is we are already overharvesting many species of wild fish, while the market demand for fish has increased. The world needs more fish, and fish farming seems to be the right solution at the right time. However, the relationship between fish farming safety and humans has always been worrisome. The short and long term consequences of fish farming safety and humans have never been properly addressed. The science that is supporting the current practice of fish farming safety has been insufficient at best. In this article, we will examine fish farming safety and its effects on humans.
Fish Farming Safety and Humans: The Good
Fish farming is cheap, profitable, and if done correctly, safe. Fish farms can produce fish at a density that nature cannot possibly dream of. They also produce fish year round, because of climate controlled technology. Furthermore, it is fresher than wild caught fish. For example, wild caught salmons can take up to 5 days to reach the harbor, while farmed salmons can be killed and sold on the market on the same day. In terms of freshness and applicability, fish farming seems to be beneficial to human.
The relationship between fish farming safety and humans should not always be a tense one. We have the technologies to improve fish farming safety. For example, fish farm has a massive purification system to provide sufficient water and reduce toxicity in the water. Some fish farms utilize natural environmental setting to provide oxygenated water while diluting its pollution in a large enough area, so that it is not considered significant. However, behind all of these clever technologies and settings, there is a dark side to fish farming.
Fish Farming Safety and Humans: The Bad and Evil
Fish farming is a dirty business, literally. For example, a small salmon farm can produce as much pollution as a large one. Just like pollutions that are made in the city, these salmon farms produce concentrated pollution in a small area of the ocean. Along with pollution, this dense blob of pollutants also carries diseases and parasites, such as the sea lice.
While the outside world is relatively unaware of these conditions, one particular case captured the world’s attention. Parasite sea lice infection caused by the salmon farm in British Columbia’s Broughton Archipelago caused a 99% infected rate of the wild salmon population. This event resulted in a 4 generation collapse of wild salmon population in that area, which was practically equal to local extinction of wild salmon. While those flaws of fish farming safety only have an indirect effect on humans, through the mean of environment, there are much more direct impacts that fish farming has on humanity.
The evil in fish farming is antibiotics. Due to the density of fish stocks in fish farming, operators are forced to face two choices: reduce stock density – thus reducing profit or use excess amount of antibiotics to keep the density high. Just like using antibiotics in cattle, the effects on human through consuming these antibiotic treated fish is unknown. Also, the antibiotic level in fish farming is higher and more consistent than cattle, due to the unnatural density of fish. Furthermore, the use of antibiotics in human food can also lead to antibacterial resistance in human diseases. Research has shown that bacterial resistance to antibiotics has increased drastically in some human cases.
The world’s incredible hunger for fish will make fish farming an inevitable solution. However, while we should be focusing on the production and profits, we should not do so with inferior fish farming safety, at the expense of our environment or our health. The damage that we will do to our environment will unavoidably bite us back in the future.