Half of all fish eaten is now farm-reared

| 8th September 2009
Behind the Label tinned tuna

Carnivorous fish like tuna use up large amounts of fishmeal

Rising consumer demand for fish with large quantities of omega-3 fatty acid is putting a strain on marine ecosystem
 

Half of the fish consumed around the world is now raised on farms, according to a Stanford University study.

Production of farmed fish almost trebled in volume between 1995 and 2007, driven by a massive rise in consumer demand for omega-3 fatty acids.

However, the industry's demand for wild fish to create feed for farmed fish is putting a strain on the marine system.

To maximise growth and improve flavour, fish farms use large quantities of fishmeal and fish oil made from less valuable wild-caught species, including anchoveta and sardine.

In 2006, 20 million metric tons of wild fish were caught to produce fishmeal.

'It can take up to 5 pounds of wild fish to produce 1 pound of salmon, and we eat a lot of salmon," said study author Professor Rosamond L. Naylor, director of the Stanford Program on Food Security and the Environment.

The study recommends fish-feed substitutes including protein from grain and livestock byproducts. It also says vegetarian species, such as Chinese carp and tilapia can be raised on feed made from plants and not wild fish.

'Our thirst for long-chain omega-3 oils will continue to put a lot of strain on marine ecosystems, unless we develop commercially viable alternatives soon,' said Naylor.

See also

More from this author

Donate

The Ecologist has a formidable reputation built on fifty years of investigative journalism and compelling commentary from writers across the world. Now, as we face the compound crises of climate breakdown, biodiversity collapse and social injustice, the need for rigorous, trusted and ethical journalism has never been greater. This is the moment to consolidate, connect and rise to meet the challenges of our changing world. The Ecologist is owned and published by the Resurgence Trust. Support The Resurgence Trust from as little as £1. Thank you. Donate now.