Aquaculture, the farming of fish and seafood, is one of the fastest growing sectors of the global food production industry. The decimation of ocean fisheries through decades of over-fishing and the desire to sell more seafood cheaply, has led to the rapid privatization of ocean waters on an industrial scale. This rapid increase in demand for fish and fish products has outpaced our regulatory agencies’ ability to manage emerging environmental and human health threats from the aquaculture industry. Though presented by the industry as a “solution” to over-fishing, the overwhelming evidence is that aquaculture is not relieving any pressures on wild fisheries. Rather, industrial aquaculture has intensified the depletion of our ocean resources, added new threats to our marine ecosystem and wildlife, and created new risks to human health and the environment—all to the detriment of the traditional fishing economies and the public.
Industrial aquaculture has resulted in a far-reaching variety of environmental consequences, including the escape of farmed fish from their containment that threatens native wild fish populations; the spread of deadly diseases and parasites; the overfishing of wild fish to feed carnivorous farmed fish; and the pollution of our ocean from the inputs and outputs of fish farming.
Industrial aquaculture also raises significant human health and food safety concerns. The antibiotics, pesticides and other chemicals that are heavily used to prevent disease and parasites in fish farming can accumulate in fish tissues. Additionally, the feed given to fish in aquaculture is made from wild-caught fish that may be heavily contaminated with dioxins and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). Studies have found farmed fish to be less healthful than their wild counterparts, refuting the alleged advantages of eating aquaculture-sourced seafood.
Center for Food Safety works to ensure and improve aquaculture oversight, furthering policy and cultural dialogue with regulatory agencies, consumers, chefs, grocers, fish retailers and legislators on the critical need to protect public health and the environment from industrial aquaculture.