Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Future Is Farmed

Predicting the future is never easy.  If it were, many of us would already be Powerball champions.  But even though most outlooks are hazy at best, there is one trend that looks to have staying power: Farmed seafood is the future of seafood.  I just don't think there is any way around this truth.

Wild seafood resources are either at their maximum harvests or are rapidly approaching those levels.  Stocks that are not being reliably managed and harvested are either being rebuilt or are overfished, and are not optimal choices for feeding the masses for any extended period of time.  Factor in the appalling amount of waste that gets swept under the seafood industry's proverbial rug with a growing population and growing demand, and we have a vast, gaping hole left in the supply chain.

Responsible aquaculture (seafood farming) fills this void with high quality, nutritional products that meet the highest standards.  Aquaculture is the fastest growing product segment of the seafood industry.  Recently the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) opened waters in the Gulf of Mexico to large-scale, sustainable aquaculture.  Similar efforts are being made in northeastern states.

 If you think about it, this only makes sense.  The U.S. owns 4.4 million miles of operable and exclusive coastline, which is by far the most of any nation in the world.  This geographical clout provides the U.S. with the opportunity to not only furnish citizens (out of work fishermen and life long watermen especially) with vital jobs in the aquaculture field, but also equips our country with the power and resources to become a leading nation in providing the world with healthy, sustainably farmed seafood.  The U.S. has the opportunity to lead by example, creating the blueprint of how resources can be managed in a responsible way, ensuring that future generations will have safe seafood to eat and that our oceans and their inhabitants will remain healthy and intact.

Farmed seafood is slowly gaining notoriety and acceptance from consumers and critics.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium recently added many farmed seafood choices to their "green" list.  Many farms are working towards and receiving sustainable merits delegated by third party auditors.  Farmed fish is winning over chefs around the world, taking first prize in blind taste tests and making its way onto menus in the finest dinning establishments.  Farmed seafood often gets to your plate much sooner and fresher than wild alternatives.  The fish are harvested to order and shipped right away and they are also "safer" to eat considering they grow in a controlled environment without the worry of parasites or infection.  If farming in this country stays the course - that is, if we continue to promote the growth of farms that sustainably manage their operations, from product, to feed, to the environment and resources in which they use - then feeding our nation and our world sustainably with seafood appears to be not only a reachable goal, but a prosperous endeavor.  

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