Farmed seafood is nothing new. Aquaculture has been taking place since ancient cultures realized the nutritional and gastronomical benefits of seafood. The Chinese understood that they could farm carp with their silkworms. The Romans grew oysters from twigs. Farming has come a long way and with it new problems have arisen, some we have solved and others we have not. It is easy to focus on one problem or another, but the reality is we need to farm seafood. And we need to farm it well. The industry is not so old that great husbandry habits can not be adapted.
Farms are beginning to operate with the environment's natural rhythms in mind. New technology has one of the world's largest salmon producers researching poly-cultural methods that could have salmon feeding off algae. Another salmon producer is looking into closed tank systems that would eliminate escapees and offer fish waste as a terrific, safe fertilizer. Happening right now, there are salmon farms that produce fish using a pounds-in to pounds-out ratio of 1.1 to 1. This is far better than anything accomplished with livestock. Does every salmon farm strive to achieve this level of environmental management? No. There are farms who still farm fish in close quarters, treat them with tons of anti-biotics, and use dyes and coloring when it comes to getting that 'salmon' color. But that does not translate into 'all farmed salmon is crap' or 'salmon farming should be shut down.' As with any other food choice there are many options out there.
|Farmed Arctic Char|
Farmed fish can not and should not replace wild caught fish. There is something special about wild fish. Our cows are farmed, our chickens are farmed, heck, even our buffalo are farmed. But wild fish, well, a wild fish tastes just as good now as it did hundreds of years ago. The end of fishing would mean the end of a romance; the end of a connection with the environment that we have cut almost every other tie with, but a connection we can not ever totally sever. Fishing brings us back to a common place that is foreign in most of our every day life of ipads, processed cheese and concrete. A place where a hunter meets its prey in no uncertain terms and the struggle is for life. But we are too hungry. And we are too many. The ocean supplies a bounty of nutrition that could support, well, an entire ocean. Unfortunately for wildlife living in the ocean we live here too and have a growing appetite. Fortunately for wildlife living in the ocean we are smart enough to understand that in order for everyone to benefit from its bounty we must harvest and grow the possibilities of a future with dinner plates and oceans that are full and balanced. Hopefully we are good enough to make this happen in a way that allows for wild fish to be caught swimming upstream and farmed fish to be bought with respect and good conscience.