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Wild fish or fish farms? Which is better for the environment?

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

Little do we know about the origin of the fish we eat. Do you know if the fresh fish you enjoy so much comes from wild fishing or from a fish farm? And for you, between wild caught or farmed fish, which is better for the environment? Read on and make your own opinion.

What is wild fishing?

Wild fishing is fishing carried out by professional fishermen in rivers, seas and oceans. In the beginnings of mankind, fishing was developed in an artisanal way or executed by small boats. This type of fishing and trade was sustainable and allowed the use of resources; it was even a source of wealth without major impacts on river and marine ecosystems.

How wild fishing affects the environment:

Over time, fishing changed and adapted to what today is called wild fishing or global mass capture. The fishing industry has created and generated large businesses, many of which threaten biodiversity and the balance of rivers, seas and oceans. The voracious global demand for fish for human consumption and the demand for fish-based products and by-products have pushed the survival of many species to the limit.

Some types of fishing, such as trawling and blast fishing, are highly destructive to the marine ecosystem, destroying corals and the seabed, with dire long-term consequences. This is why they are a threat to marine life.

The current situation of wild fishing occupies and distresses many scientists and experts in the field. Meanwhile, the great beneficiaries of the world fishing trade play down or ignore the problem. The matter is so serious that organizations such as the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) conclude that there are not enough fish in the ocean to withstand the current rate of fishing exploitation.

Against this backdrop, the rise of fish farms has brought some relief. If fish farms did not exist, how would world fish consumption be sustained? Or what would become of species such as mussels, oysters, shrimp, sea bass, carp, turbot, tuna, sea bream, rainbow trout and others? But would fish farms be as good as they seem?

What are fish farms?

Fish farming is a branch of aquaculture dedicated to the reproduction and breeding of fish and shellfish. A fish farm is a facility created, conditioned, used and managed to successfully accomplish this task. Currently, the cultivation of various sea and river species is also carried out in ponds, tanks, floating cages and other structures, either on land or at sea.

How fish farms affect the environment:

Ironically, the main environmental impact of fish farms is the use of fish-based feed to feed the fish they farm. Globally, millions of tons of small fish such as herring, sardines, mackerel, anchovies and others are harvested every month. And a large percentage of these are destined for the production of food products based on meals and oils; used to feed fish and shellfish farmed in fish farms.

This is causing a great imbalance to the environment; because these small overexploited fish are already at the limit of their biological safety. Moreover, they are a vital link in preserving the balance of various environments. This balance is composed of larger fish, birds and mammals, which depend on pelagic fish to live and reproduce.

In addition, in fish farms, crop residues are generally discharged into the environment. These wastes contain antibiotics and other contaminating veterinary drugs, as well as organic carbon. This negatively affects the oxygenation of ecosystems, endangering their balance and survival.

Thanks to the re-launch of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), and that recently many fish farms committed to a roadmap from 2021 to 2027, in which they proposed to reduce the environmental impact they cause.

What do you think? Which do you think is more harmful to the environment?

Tell us your opinion in the comments to generate a debate on the subject. Climate change is already a reality that is expressed all over the planet, let's create common awareness through debate!

Join the fight!


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