Aquaculture: In Defense of Farming

What comes to mind when thinking of farming? Is it slaughterhouses full of abused farm animals? Is it genetically modified crops that yield super corn and candy-flavored grapes? Unfortunately, farming does have a lot to do with both. Farming has been linked to devastating amounts of water and air pollution, on top of the unapologetically cruel treatment of animals. Now that it's left such a bad taste in the mouths of consumers and conservationists, it seems that anything linked to farming animals will remain under fire for years to come. However, there’s another type of farming that isn’t getting as much screen time, even though it was created to set itself apart from the harsh reality that farming currently operates under.

What is Fish Farming?

Fish farming is actually a form of aquaculture (and it sure sounds a lot nicer when you refer to it as that). Similar to the functions of a typical farm, the fish are raised in captivity to eventually be sold for a food source—and about half of the fish consumed around the world are raised this way. In recent years, animal rights have helped to lift the veil on farming and help to develop standards that will regulate the way that animals are treated when being cultivated. Farming has been associated negatively by animal rights activists, but aquaculture wasn’t designed to exploit and neglect a popular food source. Fish farming was created with the future in mind.

Why Fish Farming?

Fish farming might seem like an artificial way to produce a natural food source, but it’s really just a poorly understood sustainability enterprise. Fish farming was initiated because the world is growing—as fish accounts for about 17% of all global animal protein consumption. Populations are eating more wild fish, which eventually takes a toll on the amount of ocean life available. Fish farming was designed to preserve oceanic activity by reducing the need for wild-caught fish, while still satisfying the growing global demand. That’s right, fish farming doesn’t have to be the bad guy, and many aquaculture producers are standing up to make sure that environmental success is preserved.

Replacing the “Fish” in Fish Oil

There have been many initiatives to help minimize the amount of actual fish necessary to feed farmed fish. Aquaculturally, businesses have worked to differentiate the use of ingredients like fish oil and fishmeal in order to make their efforts more sustainable. In order to catalyze true innovation and pick up speed, the Future of Fish Feed (F3) created two challenges specifically aimed at making fish farming more fish friendly. The second of the challenges, the Fish Oil Challenge, will run through mid-September 2019. The competition challenges aquaculture producers to manufacture and produce “fish-free” fish oil.

Of course, not every aquaculture producer has a heart of gold with a selfless agenda, but it’s important to understand that farmed fish isn’t the enemy. Many producers have been working to fortify these fish in order to improve their health and value without depending on ethical loopholes. 

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