The Impacts of Fish Farming
Industrial fish farming poses a substantial risk to the health of our planet’s oceans.
The complex ecosystem that lives beneath our waters is easily susceptible to the effects of pollution and other forms of human interaction. Fish farming not only threatens sea life, but also harms the livelihoods of the fisherman of local ocean seafoods.
The more we understand about the effects of this practice, the more we can do to innovate or replace it with more sustainable methods of fishing.
There are many ways that these farms contribute to pollution. When so many fish are contained in such small area, the spread of diseases are much more prevalent. When the fish get released, or if they manage to escape from the pens, these diseases can make their way into wild fish populations which would not normally be at risk. There is also risk in concentrated waste from all these creatures. To try and combat the waste and diseases, chemical treatments are used during the harvest process. This then leaves these chemicals in the ocean, and puts wildlife as well as humans at risk.
Along with disease, escaped fish can infiltrate wild schools and create unnatural competition which can lead to drastic drops in population of sea life. If these farmed fish reproduce with the local population, their offspring is put at risk for not being developed to survive in natural environments, leading to death. These farmed creatures can also develop into an invasive species that can disrupt the local ecosystem. While some farms are moving towards better ways to combat some of these issues, there are still many that aren’t and it is leading to a decline in healthy seafood.
Aside from the environmental impact that fish farms have on the ocean, this industry can really hurt local fisherman who depend on fishing as their major source of income. When consumers buy fish from industrial facilities, it takes money away from these small fisherman. This in turn takes money out of the local economy. There are many places around the world that depend on having wild fish to catch and sell. When small communities start to feel ocean pollution effects and the strain on their job markets, it can we very damaging for a lot of people.
I once spoke with a local clam farmer, who cultivated clams off the coast of North Carolina right in his own back yard waterway. If you want to talk about a sustainable food source, that was one for sure. He told me about how challenging it is to keep local fishing businesses alive amidst commercial farms. Buying fish at a local level goes beyond just keeping money in the local economy. It also creates a relationship between consumers and the food they are eating. There is real value in knowing where the fish you buy come from, and to know the face that caught it, or the dock it was caught off.
There are many major effects that farming fish can lead to. Having a good knowledge of these effects can really improve the health of our local marine ecosystems and help provide ocean pollution solutions. Providing this knowledge to consumers can help them make better choices when it comes to the fish that they buy. This not only helps protect wild species of fish, but helps protect local industries. While there can be some benefits of commercial level fishing, keeping it as sustainable as possible has to be the goal of producers if they want to keep the seafood industry alive. Making small changes can create a large impact on the future of fishing.
About the Author
Justin Hester is the founder of ReefNation and self-proclaimed ‘commander in reef’. He grew up on the south shore of Long Island, in NY. When he moved to the Midwest in the 90’s, that desire to smell the salt air again was what led to him to start a saltwater coral tank and eventually begin ReefNation. If you’re interested in finding out more about running a healthy reef aquarium, Justin recommends you check out this automated system called EcoSmart Live.