Sustainable Sushi – Fish Farming

Salmon used to swim upstreamWhen you first hear about it, fish farming sounds like a solution that feeds more people with less pressure on the wild fish stocks. And indeed the reality is that there are examples of farming done right – creating large amounts of biomass while striving to minimize negative impacts. But too often, fish farming causes more problems than it alleviates, just as mass cow and chicken farming on land creates environmental issues. For example, just as massive waste from cow farming creates runoff with destructive levels of methane, fish farms can create similar waste problems.

But there are many problems with many of the current fish farming operations. Farmed fishes can escape and inter-breed with wild populations diluting the genetic diversity. Responsible fish farms have plenty of room for the number of fish they breed, and keep containment to avoid escape.


Diseases are a huge concern because they can sometimes spread more quickly in crowded farming populations than they would in the wild. Worse still, very large amounts of antibiotics are often used to combat the diseases resulting in us eating fish loaded with these chemicals. Antibiotic-laden waters in fish farms can pollute nearby waters as well. Even harmless fish food can become a problem if oversupply drifts out into open waters.

But despite the current technical issues with fish farms, there are strategic issues as well. Farming often puts pressure on wild fish stocks. And when fish farms sell large amounts of fish to markets that also support responsible fisheries, an enormous amount of economic pressure is brought to bear on those wild fish sellers. Some of the alaskan salmon fisheries seem to operate with a respect for the long term viability of the salmon species they catch and sell. However, the huge domestic salmon market in the U.S. imports vast amounts of farmed salmon from some of the least responsible operators on earth. The price differential between wild salmon coming from carefully managed Alaskan fisheries and cheap, mass farmed Chilean salmon is substantial, and makes economic survival for the former very difficult.

Be Sociable, Share!

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.

Sushi PRO