I have heard about fish farms before, assumed they were bad but never looked into the topic any further. After reading a recent NY Times article about genetically modified salmon possibly being sold on the market, WITHOUT being labeled as genetically modified, I decided to do my research.
“Fish farming, or “aquaculture,” has become a billion-dollar industry, and more than 30 percent of all the sea animals consumed each year are now raised on these “farms.” The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization reports that the aquaculture industry is growing three times faster than land-based animal agriculture, and fish farms will surely become even more prevalent as our natural fisheries become exhausted.”
Aquafarms can be on land or in the ocean. “Land-based farms raise thousands of fish in ponds, pools, or concrete tanks. Ocean-based aquafarms are situated close to shorelines, and fish in these farms are packed into net or mesh cages.”
According to PETA, Aquafarms squander resources and pollute the environment with tons of fish feces, antibiotic-laden fish feed, and diseased fish carcasses. “Conditions on some farms are so horrendous that 40 percent of the fish may die before farmers can kill and package them for food. In short, fish farms bring suffering and ecological devastation everywhere they go”
I think the most horrifying thing about these farms are sea lice, which apparently is a regular occurrence on salmon farms. The parasites eat at the fish and cause their scales to fall off which create large sores. If the fish are extremely crowded lice will even eat down to the bone on fish’s faces. “This is so common that fish farmers have taken to calling it the ‘death crown.'”
This kind of treatment is completely legal and unregulated, according to PETA. Can you imagine if dogs, cats, or pigs were treated this way? We wouldn’t stand for it. So why should we stand for it happening to fish?
Not only is this hard on the fish, this kind of treatment is extremely hard on the environment. “The massive amount of feces produced by fish on aquafarms is bad for the environment, and the farms leave behind drugged feed and animal corpses that upset the natural balance of the aquatic ecosystem. According to the Norwegian government, the salmon and trout farms in Norway alone produce roughly the same amount of sewage as New York City. In some cases, the massive amount of fish excrement settling below fish cages has actually caused the ocean floor to rot. Dead fish carcasses and uneaten antibiotic-laden fish feed also pollute the coastal areas that surround these farms. The sludge of fish feces and other debris can be toxic for already-strained ocean ecosystems.”
“Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that fish farms are responsible for introducing non-native fish into areas where they take over indigenous species’ habitats. For example, despite fish farmers’ assurances that the fish would be safely contained, more than 1 million Atlantic salmon have escaped from coastal farms in the past three years.” This has a dramatic effect on the native fish species.
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