Why Fish Farming Isn't Sustainable – NothingFishy

Why Fish Farming Isn't Sustainable

Posted on September 06


Millions of fish are being killed every day for food in fish farms, sometimes called Aquafarms. Fish farms release toxic waste, pesticides, and other chemicals into coastal waters - destroying ecosystems. Aquaculture farms that raise fish in fenced-in areas of the ocean kill off the development of natural habitats by overloading them to a point where they can't take it anymore. 


Almost half of the seafood people eat comes from aquaculture fish farming. A lot of fish farms have fish in small, confined cages similar to what you would see in battery hen farms. 


Why are fish farms bad?


A successful fish farm requires fish meal to sustain stock. Similar to other agriculture practices, this means a lot of the food will go to waste. On top of this, the population of the species of fish is denser than what would occur naturally, so the waste products are a lot more concentrated in fish farms. An unattended fish farm would become too toxic for survival and the waste products would contaminate the surrounding marine areas. 


One of the bigger issues when it comes to fish farming is that the farms usually depend on wild fish species that are lower on the food chain to feed the larger farmed species. It can actually take up to five pounds of smaller fish to produce one pound of larger fish which can majorly affect the amount of fish in the ocean. Not to mention, the fish can suffer from fin damage, lesions, and other injuries. Parasite outbreaks and diseases can also appear from the stressful situation the fish are in. These illnesses are treated with antibiotics from the farmer, however, this can cause drug-resistant strains of diseases which can harm wildlife and the humans that eat the fish. 


What's in the fish you eat?


Stepping away from the environmental impact slightly: you are what your fish eat. Many farmed fish are carnivorous and they are fed wild fish, fish meal, or fish oil like mentioned above. And non-carnivorous farmed fish consume GMO corn and soy. 


Our oceans have become seriously polluted due to poisonous metals like mercury. Mercury and other industrial chemicals are often dumped into the oceans, meaning fish absorb these toxins. Once they do, it is pretty much impossible to remove them. 


Mercury levels in fish such as cod, tuna, and swordfish are rising at a crazy rate. This is due to climate change and overfishing. Researchers have estimated that concentrations in mercury in Atlantic cod increased up to 23% between the 1970s and the 2000s - and by 56% in Atlantic bluefin tuna between 1969 and today. 


How to get omega-3 without fish


To try and combat concerns people from thinking aquaculture is unethical, Aquafarmers make out that it's an alternative to depleting wild fish populations. This doesn't add up due to many of the fish species they farm being predators, like salmon and shrimp - and they're fed ocean fish. 


A lot of people are still eating fish purely to get the omega-3, and many believe that it's the only way to get the nutrient. In fact, omega-3 mainly comes from seaweed and algae, and it ends up in the fish when they eat krill (who have eaten algae). So, to get your omega-3 in a more ethical way, take the fish out of the picture. 


At NothingFishy, we get our omega-3 from sustainable algae oil. We grow our own algae cultures and make our own seawater in a controlled environment meaning we can ensure that it's the cleanest source of omega-3 available. It's not genetically modified and 100% plant-based. 


Featured image credit: Peter Simmons via Pexels 

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