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Making Fish Farming Appetizing

Aqua-Spark wants to change an industry known for unclean practices

There’s a certain appeal to fish farming, also known as aquaculture. Growing aquatic life in offshore pens, rivers, or big, terrestrial tanks seems not only audacious, but as convenient as, well, shooting fish in a barrel. Already, aquaculture accounts for nearly 50 percent of the worldwide fish supply, and it’s growing faster than any other type of food production. Farm-raised seafood will soon jump to 62 percent of global fish served on a plate or bought in a supermarket by 2030, a 500 percent growth rate over 20 years, according to the USDA. At a time when 85 percent of marine life is overexploited and overfished, aquaculture seems like a viable alternative.

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Learning to Farm Fish Responsibly

Breakthroughs in aquaculture are winning over longtime skeptics.

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

For years, wildlife organizations and international agencies have been warning that overfishing is rapidly depleting ocean fish stocks. Because the global fishing fleet is estimated to be three times larger than our oceans can sustain, the populations of big fish—tuna, swordfish, cod, marlin, and others—have declined by 90 percent since 1950. If this trend continues, populations of all food-specific species could theoretically collapse by 2048. And that’s where fish farming comes in. Though the downsides of traditionally farmed fish are numerous and well-documented—disease, environmental damage, nutritional degradation, habitat destruction, antibiotic use, and forage fish depletion among them—some innovative aquaculture models are now carving out new, non-destructive means of farming fish, and winning over longtime skeptics.

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Intermission: Ocean 2012's Beautiful Overfishing Explainer

This 4-minute video explainer on the problems facing the world's fisheries benefits from a gorgeous, pixelated animation style.

[vimeo][/vimeo]

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