Factory Fish Farming Dangers

Ocean factory farms are no different from their land based counterparts. They cram thousands of fish into open net pens and cages, which leads to filth and disease, thereby necessitating the use of pesticides, antibiotics and chemicals, which flow into the surrounding marine environment and people’s plates. In addition, caged fish can escape and often interbreed with wild fish, harming native fish populations.

Despite these alarming facts, the U.S. government continues to subsidize the development of open ocean aquaculture, a type of factory farming that clearly threatens the health of our oceans, coastal communities and consumers.

A new report by the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch (FWW) claims that the government is promoting factory fish farming in offshore waters. The report also raises a red flag about the future of genetically modified fish such as AquaBounty’s AquAdvantage salmon.

According FWW, “a leading argument used to promote factory fish farming is that we need it to offset the U .S . seafood trade deficit — that is, to import less seafood and produce more seafood for local consumption. However, to do this through factory fish farming, however, would require an almost unimaginable 200 million fish to be produced in ocean cages each year. This would call for approximately 41 percent of the entire global production of fishmeal to be used as feed, could produce as much nitrogenous waste as the untreated sewage from a city nearly nine times more populous than the city of Los Angeles and could lead to the escapement of as many as 34 .8 million fish.”

The report calls for the U.S. Government to recognize that after more than a decade of setbacks, factory fish farming is not the solution for increasing seafood safety and availability.

Image Source: Benson Kua/Flickr