Blog Action Day 2011 is devoted to food and so is That’s A Mouthful. With so many issues of hunger and famine in the world today, it is important to take a look at alternative methods of food production in living up to the demands of the population. Much like the energy crisis, we have to look beyond our current needs to plan for the future. This brings seafood farming to the forefront as a sustainable and economical solution. At the same time, it is important to be cautious with new methods of food production.
In the US, seafood farming seems to have earned a bad name, but with North America only representing about 2% of the fish farming industry, there is little known about the practice and limited access to facilities worldwide. This leads to misconceptions and misrepresentations because it is only the horror stories that make the news.
But there are more factors to consider when it comes to farmed seafood than the horror stories and even ethics. As a growing world population facing famine, poverty and unemployment, we have to develop economical, safe and sustainable ways to feed the projected 9 billion people that will inhabit the earth in 2050.
Just like the cattle farming industry, there are good and bad facilities. In the U.S. we often hear about crowded conditions and cleanliness issues as well as the disappearance of the hardworking fisherman. As a relatively new and thus imperfect practice, seafood farming hasn’t reached its full potential.
Cleanliness: In the news, we see farmed seafood products sitting is sedentary, muddy water, piled on top of each other and subject to disease. However, there are several facilities making use of free-flowing water pins that cycle fresh water into tanks where fish are only introduced to food and forms that they would encounter in their natural environment to create natural, clean flavor.
As this industry continues to develop, advances will be made to ensure that, especially in times of oil spills and contamination in open waters, consumers are still have a source for clean, high-quality seafood.
Productivity vs. Demand: With the automation of seafood processing facilities and the advent of fish farms, comes the fear that the fisherman and local seafood stores will lose jobs and business. However, with an ever-growing population and a renewed focus on eating healthy and lean, the seafood industry stands to see a consumer increase. This projected upswing is too large for either the wild-caught or seafood farming sectors to handle alone.
In addition, bouts of hunger and famine call for low-cost, high-yield relief efforts. Seafood is a restorative product packed with essential nutrients that, when produced on a large scale, can help to address issues of malnutrition and hunger.
Pricing: Fuel costs, labor and several other financial factors are built into the cost of wild-caught seafood. While some of these costs are justified by the freshness and quality of the products from wild-caught seafood programs, the current global economy calls for affordable seafood options. Farm-raising, offers low-cost solutions for consumers who can not always indulge in more expensive wild-caught seafood. When seafood farming facilities are held to and adhere to high quality standards, consumers can get a comparable product at an economical price.
Sustainability vs. Over-Fishing: Over-fishing, as a result of increasing demand, has led to the endangerment of certain marine species. Striking a balance between wild-caught and farm-raised seafood programs can address issues of sustainability allowing consumers to enjoy the seafood they love over time.