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Aquaculture: Not An Easy Answer To Overfishing

n, the report said.

And the issues involved are increasingly a big business. Farmed shrimp is now produced in 50 countries, most of them developing nations in the tropics, with a global value of $6 billion a year. The salmon produced largely in temperate zones are a $2 billion crop which has expanded rapidly since the late 1970s due to improved technology, high profits and government subsidy.

Global aquaculture now accounts for one-fourth of all fish consumed by humans. Almost half of the salmon and nearly one fourth of the shrimp consumed worldwide now comes from farms.

Among the problems caused by shrimp and salmon aquaculture:

  • Shrimp aquaculture ponds can destroy mangroves and other nursery areas that support ocean fisheries, provide livelihoods for indigenous peoples and protect coral reefs.

  • Fish farming discharges nutrients, pesticides and antibiotics into coastal waters.

  • Exotic fish species are sometimes introduced outside their native habitat.

  • The ocean's capacity to assimilate wastes, provide feed and stock, and maintain viable fish populations is being challenged.

  • The viability of tropical ponds used to rear shrimp often collapses after 5-10 years of use from disease, chemical and biological pollution, creating a "boom and bust" economic cycle and disruption of local communities.

A big part of the problem, the report said, are the huge amounts of fish needed to produce fish meal and oil for the "delicacy" species such as shrimp and salmon that bring top prices in the market. It can take 1.8 million tons of wild fish to produce 644,000 tons of salmon.

Meanwhile, salmon netpens send volumes of feces and uneaten food directly into coastal waters. One analysis of the Nordic salmon farming industry showed that it discharged quantities of nitrogen equal to the amount in untreated sewage from a population of 3.9 million people. And there are concerns t
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Contact: Jane Lubchenco
lubchenj@bcc.orst.edu
541-737-5337
Oregon State University
29-Oct-1998


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