Today, over 90% of our seafood is imported from other countries, primarily Asia. This has put us in a $9 billion dollar trade deficit. Of this imported seafood, only 2% is tested by the FDA for contaminants. In a randomly conducted study, fish were tested for the presence of formaldehyde in imported seafood and it was found that one out of every four fish tested contained unsafe levels of formaldehyde. By encouraging the domestic growth of fish in our country, we can better control what is going into our food, and stimulate our own economy.
About 39% of our available land is currently used for crops and pasture. We need to take steps to produce more on the land we have. By integrating land based aquaculture systems to existing farms and other areas where traditional farming could not take place, we can increase efficiency of food production and even use the fish waste as fertilizer for existing farms. An interesting fact, is that It takes 7 pounds of feed to produce just one pound of beef. Fish have an incredibly efficient pound for pound ratio, where just one pound of feed produces one pound of fish.
National Geographic predicted that our world will grow to nine billion people by the year 2050, and with this massive expanse in population will come the need to feed more and more people. The need to find more efficient methods of food production is more prevalent than ever. The key is to produce more on the land we have, and increase productivity on existing farms. Land based aquaculture is one of the primary solutions.
Why should consumers care?
We should be in control of what goes into our food. Importing 90% percent of our fish, and only testing 2% of it is unacceptable. Different countries have different regulations, and many of the antibiotics found in imported fish are not approved for use in the US. Additionally, Aquaculture operations in Canada have shown to be successful, supplying over 16,000 jobs and producing $1,005,180,000 in 2009.
What about its impact on the environment?
Land based aquaculture is superior to ocean based systems because there can be no transmission of disease between wild fish and farmed fish. The waste produced is also contained and harvested as a valuable resource to be used as fertilizer or energy. Land based systems can be placed near packing plants and distribution centers, reducing the carbon footprint created by transportation.
How do the filtration systems work?
RAS or Recirculating Aquaculture systems are currently being used in many land based systems. These systems allow you to reuse 99% of the water by aerating the water, removing waste matter, biological filtering to remove nitrite and ammonia, and buffering the pH.
How can aquaculture be incorporated into existing farms?
Aquaponics is the combination of land based aquaculture and conventional farming techniques. After the initial start up cost of incorporating an aquaculture system, the wastes could be used as fertilizers for growing crops and pasture.
Fish isn’t your favorite? That’s okay. I am simply encouraging a gradual shift in diet by the majority of Americans, and promoting the safe consumption of fresh, chemical free food. Aquaculture is an evolving method of fish farming that is still trying to take root in the US and has plenty of room for improvement. It is crucial to realize that in order to feed a growing nation, we must become more efficient economically, agriculturally, and environmentally.
How can you support aquaculture here in the US?
Support domestic fish farmers by eating seafood that has been grown and produced here in the US. Stay current with aquaculture practices and be aware of any new legislation regarding those practices.
(special thanks to my good intentions classmates who are responsible for gathering much of this information! (: ) Take this poll to help us see who would make the shift in diet! [polldaddy poll=8977526]
Bourne, Joel K., Jr. “How To Farm a Better Fish.” National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.
Foley, Jonathan. “Feeding 9 Billion – National Geographic.” Feeding 9 Billion – National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.