"We have to develop new aquaculture production that rivals global production of soybeans, pigs and chickens if we want to keep eating fish and shellfish."
Since 1985 commercial fishing has annually produced approximately 90 million metric tons (mmt). In contrast, aquaculture production has doubled every decade since 1970. Figures from 1999 show annual aquaculture production at 42 mmt. Worldwide production of hogs is approximately 83 mmt yearly and that of chickens is 46 mmt, according to 1995 figures.
Brown estimates that to keep up with demand, annual aquaculture production must increase by 40 mmt to as much as 100 mmt by 2035.
However, the problem of meeting demand isn't just increasing the amount raised on farms, said Brown, who does part of his research as a collaborator in Purdue's Center for Enhancing Foods to Protect Health, which receives support from the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund. The public also must be educated that aquaculture can produce fish just as good and possibly healthier than those caught in the wild.
"The consumer doesn't know to ask the right questions about fish," he said. "They have the perception that farm-raised fish or shellfish are inferior products and don't have the healthy fatty acids people need.
"If they want more omega-3 in their fish, we can put it in. If they want fish that don't taste fishy, we can produce fish that don't taste fishy. The public just needs to say what it wants."