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Yesterday, IntraFish published a comment of its editor Knut Olson: «European seafood producers’ survival is dependent on imported raw materials, and bythat we mean farmed fish. (…) This situation, for the next few years, offers bright prospects for farmed fish producers.»

Some years ago, FAO predicted aquaculture will supply half of worldwide seafood demand in 2050. I was told a fool then when I said this point could be reached much earlier. Actually, we're reaching it by soon, if we're not already there.
Is this good news? Not at all, because there's much too much velocity in this race for farming seafood. Mainly two problems cannot be solved thouroughly while the farming sector is developping so fast.

First, most of farmed fish are fed by fish meal corresponding to 3 or 4 times of the fish harvested. Fish meal derives from wild stocks mainly. With more and more farms joining the race, this will soon become the number one reason for the depletion of the stocks. Research for feeding fish without fish is set on, but results of practical value will take some time. So how will farmers feed their fish after the Sea's empty?

Second, despite of all improvements in farming techniques, the natural needs of the fish have been taken into account only punctually, if ever. Thus, the seafood industry will soon be confronted with the same objections like the hen, pig and cattle industries: low animal welfare and therefore low meat quality. As ethological research of farmed species has been practically inexistant so far, the fast race for farmed seafood does not let a chance for real improvements of fish welfare. What is the industry going to tell its consumers when they get aware of what they are being served?

We should not forget that the fish farming race is not driven alone by the decline of wild stocks but be shere short term business minded people looking to get as much money out of the ponds as soon as possible. Those guys have never been interested in best farming practices. Resonsible farmers will have to pay the bill when the profiteers have eloped.

When national and supranational bodies are investing to assure seafood supply, they should rather spend money into the sustainable use of wild fish stock than to boost an industry with almost short-sighted perspectives.


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