10-29-98 CORVALLIS, Ore. - A new report in the journal Science suggests that some types of aquaculture, a fish-farming concept that once seemed to be the solution to overfishing of the world's oceans, may in fact be causing some of the same problems it was meant to resolve.
Shrimp and salmon aquaculture, in particular, were indicted for depleting fisheries, disrupting coastal ecosystems, polluting the ocean with excess nutrients and pesticides, and using almost triple the quantity of wild-caught fish for "fish food" as the system produces in marketable shrimp or salmon.
"Aquaculture is often seen as a panacea, the solution to relieve fishing pressure on the oceans and feed the world," said Jane Lubchenco, a distinguished professor of zoology at Oregon State University and co-author of the report.
"What we're finding is that, unless it is done right, some aquaculture is causing more problems than it solves and doing nothing to increase the world's overall food supply."
Lubchenco and nine other international experts in aquaculture, fisheries, ecology and economics suggested that improved practices are needed to make salmon and shrimp aquaculture more sustainable. For example, the amount of fish required to make feed for salmon and shrimp should be reduced, pollution from aquaculture operations should be minimized and habitat destruction prevented.
Both the industry and government should consider new regulations, pollution taxes, or reduction of financial subsidies for the most harmful types of aquaculture until some of the problems are addressed, the researchers said.
According to the report, some of the worst problems with aquaculture
develop with species such as shrimp and salmon that are carnivores and require
high levels of fish meal and fish oil in their diets. Instead of becoming a
substitute for ocean fishing, they actually draw down the ocean resources that
support all fish productio
Contact: Jane Lubchenco
Oregon State University