13 Sep The necessary commitment to organic aquaculture to meet the demand for fish and to preserve the environment
Our eating habits have changed a lot, just as much as how we obtain the food we eat each day. This also influences the consumption of fish. That which is eaten is no longer mainly extracted from traditional fishing activity. Data from the latest report of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicate that 53% of fish production now comes from fish farms. It was 171 million tons in 2016.
Annual fish consumption has been increasing. From 9 kilos per inhabitant in 1961 to 20.5 in 2017. Fishing is subject to certain limitations on seasons and tons of catches, so that, in order to meet the demand for fish in the world over the next few years, it will be necessary for the production of fish farms to increase as well.
Given the need for an increase in the production of fish farms, the importance of these complexes adapting to satisfactory conditions for customers and respecting the environment becomes clear. The opportunity for ecological aquaculture is emphasized. It is one of the conclusions drawn from the Aqua 2018 Conference, which was held in the French city of Montepellier.
Organic aquaculture is based on reducing the ecological footprint of mass fish farming. We refer to looking seeking a lower environmental impact when carrying out this activity. It is about achieving a higher quantity of fish and, at the same time, avoiding the risks of diseases and mortality of these animals, as pointed out by Lionel Dabbadie, a researcher at the Center for International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development (CIRAD). In line with what was mentioned previously, the said researcher believes that the boost to sustainable fishing can meet the needs of the demand, but not the desired increase. According to him, this will depend on the fish farms.
This circumstance raises the need to promote organic aquaculture, which entails establishing some control systems and safety guarantees regarding the production processes that are carried out in the fish farms. Let’s keep in mind that fish reproduction is generated in conditions different from the natural origin of these animals, so we must be rigorous in the quality of the processes.
The interconnection of two systems is necessary for organic aquaculture to gain ground. On the one hand, agroecology proposes methods such as reserving paddy fields for fish farming. This experience is very relevant in Asia, where the fish release nutritious salts that are important for the crop. Urban kitchen gardens can be places for these practices and the excrement would be used as fertilizers. On the other hand, we highlight the introduction of sustainability factors in conventional fish farms, such as the lumpfish species in Norwegian salmon farms. They grow on top of the fish and can replace phytosanitary products.
In short, in order to meet the growing demand for fish without increasing the ecological footprint, we need more sustainable fish farms.