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The world's oceans are overexploited, polluted with plastics, and spilled. There are fishing fleets emptying the oceans to produce fishmeal and fish oil, which they use in aquaculture as food.
Global consumption of fish and shellfish has doubled in the last 50 years. Each year, 80 million tons, almost half of the fish, shrimp and mussels come from aquaculture. This industry is building floating cages in the sea for salmon farming, installing artificial ponds on the shores for shrimp farming or containers in industrial warehouses to raise other marine animals.
But so-called aquaculture is not a true solution to overfishing or pollution of the oceans, it exacerbates the problems. To fatten the animals they use large amounts of fishmeal and fish oil. For example, they need up to five kilograms of Peruvian anchovy, mackerel or sardine to produce a single kilo of salmon. A huge waste.
Worldwide, more than two-thirds of fishmeal and three-quarters of fish oil are currently used as feed in hatcheries.
The Dutch foundation Changing Markets has investigated how fleets empty the oceans to Africa and Asia, to supply fishmeal factories in The Gambia, India and Vietnam. From there, the food produced is transported to aquaculture farms in countries such as China, Norway and Great Britain. And they explain that in the end, animals fed this way apparently also land in supermarkets such as Mercadona in Spain and Lidl in Germany.
Additionally, aquaculture farms pollute the oceans with large amounts of excrement, chemicals, antibiotics, and garbage. They take over bays, coasts and mangroves and destroy ecosystems. Therefore, the aquaculture industry also ruins the livelihoods of local and coastal fishermen.
Get informed when buying fish, shrimp and molluscs from aquaculture.
The state of aquaculture farms
There is more and more farming of marine animals on aquaculture farms. Above all, large companies that operate globally raise fish such as salmon, mackerel or sea bream in floating cages in the sea and others such as sole, turbot in swimming pools in industrial warehouses on land. In North America, even genetically modified super salmon are produced, which are allowed for sale in the United States and Canada. In total, 52 million tonnes of fish are produced in this way.
On the contrary, tropical prawns and crabs are raised normally in artificial ponds that are built in territories that are won over from the mangrove forests. Mussels and oysters are grown on ropes attached to floating rafts. In total, around 30 million tonnes of prawns and mussels are produced in this way worldwide. The world production of the aquaculture industry currently amounts to 90 million tonnes per year.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that aquaculture will produce 109 million tons of fish annually in 2030, which will account for 60% of world fish consumption. Fishing for wild fish and other marine animals has, on the other hand, been maintained for years at 90 million tons per year.
A good part of the species of fish, prawns and other marine species depend on animal proteins from the sea for their food. 90% of the species that are transformed into fishmeal are suitable for human consumption, reports the Changing Markets Foundation in its two studies Fishing for a Catastrophe and Until the Seas Run Dry - How the aquaculture industry is plundering oceans. Furthermore, trawlers in the fishmeal sector often catch large numbers of small fish.
One fifth of the world's fisheries go to the production of fishmeal and fish oil. 69% of fishmeal and 75% of fish oil were transformed into feed for fish farms in 2016. The rest of the fishmeal is used to produce feed for chickens (23%) and pigs (7%).
Due to its high protein content, genetically modified soybean meal from North and South America is also used to produce fish and prawn feed. Soy cultivation is driving large-scale deforestation of South America's tropical forests.
Industrial farming of marine animals leads to serious environmental problems. Coastal regions are destroyed to build and manage aquaculture. Marine ecosystems are destroyed by facilities, mangroves are massively cut down and the habitats of many animal species are reduced.
The intensive farming of fish generates large amounts of excrement and dead animals that pollute the waters. To this is added the use of chemicals and antibiotics to stop diseases and infections. Invasive species colonize habitats from which they do not come. They mix with local species, which they can totally displace or damage with disease.
Aquaculture harms the livelihoods of local, coastal and small-scale fisheries. Their capture areas are invaded by companies, confiscated and destroyed. Changing Markets complains about the often very poor working conditions and violations of existing laws in the cases of fishmeal factories in The Gambia, India and Vietnam.
From an animal welfare perspective, aquaculture is as problematic as industrial livestock on land. It is an intensive activity with a high density of occupation and highly stressed fish. Animals are exposed to different types of diseases, parasites, and injuries. The quality and taste of the animals are not comparable to that of wild fish.
Watch the video "The dark secret behind farmed seafood"
The farmed salmon and prawn that end up on your plate have a dirty secret. They feed on billions of wild-caught fish that are indiscriminately taken from the oceans, ground into fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO), and made into aquafeed, removing a vital source of protein from life. Marine and local communities. 93% of the world's oceans are already fully exploited or overexploited and the oceans are running out of fish. The aquaculture industry is adding additional pressure to our oceans' fish populations, already destabilized by climate change, by taking anything out of the ocean to meet the industry's demand for FMFO. The aquaculture industry has high growth ambitions, but it must stop ravaging the oceans to feed farmed fish. There are already alternatives to aquaculture feed without using wild-caught fish, but the industry is not moving fast enough and time is running out.
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Source: Save the jungle