Overfishing and the Non-Solution of Aquaculture

This four-minute video presents the clearest, most accurate explanation of issues close to our hearts we’ve found: overfishing and the peril of aquaculture. We are emptying our seas at an unsustainable rate. But there are real solutions at hand:

  • Our governments need to follow science-based harvest recommendations.
  • Understand why aquaculture (fish farming) merely robs Peter to pay Paul, and for most species is not a solution.
  • Purchase local, wild fish whenever and wherever possible – even if it costs more.
  • Write a note to the FDA (click here) urging them to follow the American Fisheries Society’s names for fish species so that restaurants and retailers have to honestly tell consumers what we are purchasing.
  • Use your dollars to show commercial fishermen that you are willing to pay for responsibly harvested fish as opposed to farmed fish and fish harvested by nonselective, rapacious factory ship fishing.
  • Become educated and talk with your friends.
  • Forward or share this blog post/video.
  • Join Trout Unlimited or another conservation group that works to protect fish habitat. (Check Charity Navigator to ensure that the organization you choose spends its dollars responsibly.)
  • Learn to fish. A single person selectively targeting fish from local waters for personal/family consumption is still the most ecologically sustainable method of fish harvest.

Thanks for reading. Jack & Barbra

18 thoughts on “Overfishing and the Non-Solution of Aquaculture

  1. Thanks for posting this. Here in the desert wilds of Utah we eat fish caught by us or friends, and I’ve traded lamb for some salmon, with the folks that caught it. . it’s special to us. . I wish more people would “eat what they live”. I very much appreciate the last bullet point–learn to fish. Even if you don’t catch all your food, doing this changes your relationship to what you eat. We started raising sheep four years ago–with just a few, and now we feed many people, with meat that never sees a store or a piece of plastic.

  2. Just want to point out that many of the fish harvested locally from a stream or lake were produced in a hatchery. Particularly in the US. Realize that aquaculture (fish farming) must be used to restore some stocks from collapse particularly in freshwater. This must done in ways that protect the genetic integrity of populations. For all of us, the solution is to consume locally sourced, sustainable sources of seafood. In our Center at SIU, we are looking at using plant-derived (e.g., soy, fermentation byproducts, etc.) sources for feeding aquacultured fish and encouraging culture of fish that feed low on the food chain (e.g., mullets) rather than carnivores.

    For wild fish, pay special attention to the biologists and the scientific literature. The truth lies there.

    • Thanks for the interesting note, jlarvae.
      We agree that consumers and the media need to pay attention to what scientists are saying… but which scientists? Canada, currently, appears to be embroiled in money-driven corruption with government scientists speaking for the salmon farming industry and independent scientists reporting widespread viral infections at salmon farms. These viruses appear to be infecting wild stocks, decimating many wild fish runs. Anyone who can read and think scientifically can be a scientist, and we hope more consumers and journalists will take up this challenge.
      Freshwater hatcheries present their own set of problems and positives. In some places, they work well to supplement put-and-take fisheries and, as you mention, to restore eradicated or threatened fish stocks. In these instances, hatcheries appear to be enhancing the local environment and contributing to bio-diversity and the economy in a sustainable, responsible way.
      In many other instances, hatcheries have created problems and even nightmares for local ecosystems. Responsible anglers are doing a better job than ever of educating themselves regarding hatcheries, and we hope this trend continues.
      And finally, we believe that some aquaculture for some species is positive. Shellfish farms are an example where, responsibly executed, there appears to be a net benefit. Another example would be akin to good freshwater hatcheries where freshwater species – particularly those which can be fed a mostly plant-based diet – are reared in a controlled, contained environment with minimal impact to the overall ecology and with positive impact on the economy.
      Our view is that cypronids (carp and their alleys) and mullet are promising candidates for responsible aquaculture.

  3. As a student of marine biology this is something that terrifies me. It’s well known once you gain any knowledge on the subject but the vast majority of the public have no idea. There are other issues with fishing and aquaculture that weren’t mentioned though such as trawlers destroying habitats, overuse of antibiotics and pesticides in aquaculture decimating fragile ecosystems and the large scale conversion of rare ecosystems such as mangroves in 3rd world countries into shrimp farms. One of the biggest issues was raised however and that was that people who make policy pretty much take no notice of what experts say. The experts are saying “we can only take this much and be sustainable” and politicians are essentially saying “but that would make us unpopular so screw it”. This sort of message needs spread because the ideal situation is that the pressure on politicians to limit overfishing becomes great enough to outweigh the pressure to allow it. So keep spreading that message 🙂

    • Thanks for the informed remarks. Watch for our next post on this issue: Salmon farming in Canada. What is going on up there is horrible – and as you might guess, the government appears to be suppressing science.

      • There’s certainly no shortage of my thoughts! I admire your lifestyle, at least what I can pick up about it from this blog. Some day I’d like to get out of mix and back to “the wild” a bit more. I’m looking forward to your wheat bread recipe. My wife and I have been cracking wheat and making our own bread for a few months now, still very new to it, but there is a noticeable difference for me when I’m that involved with the processing of my food.

  4. Pingback: Don’t Buy that Dish, Save the Fish! | Ear Plugs and Plastic Trees

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