By Reiner Geiling
Since the population on Earth is nearing its practical peak, the demand for fish has risen drastically. The total amount of fish in oceans and lakes is not enough to sustain human fish consumption. This leads to a rising popularity in fish farming. Even though this may seem inconsequential as fish farming does not lower wild fish populations, the effects are still drastic. After watching the documentary The Fish on My Plate by Paul Greenberg, I came across the detrimental effects of fish farming on the environment.
Norway is the birth of modern fish farming, also known as aquaculture, with more than a thousand fish farms on their coast. Per Grieg, a Norwegian CEO of a salmon farming company nicknamed “Grieg Seafood” cages and farms millions of fish. Amassing over 400 million dollars per year, his highly profitable company ships fish globally. The living conditions for the fish are cruel, since the fish are so close together that they swim in their own feces. Parasites and diseases spread at much higher rates in fish farms that eventually spread to natural sea life. The main threat to these fish is sea lice, which extremely irritate their skin. It only takes 10 sea lice to kill one salmon; this becomes problematic in accordance with the natural sea & land life of the area.
Alas, Norway is merely one example– the global fish industry has had drastic effects on marine wellbeing. The majority of farmed fish originates from polluted waters in Asia containing a large range of parasites. This water is also reused sewage water that has trace elements of human feces and other dirt that floats downstream.
Aquaculture is abused for profit, and it is a global problem; not only are fish getting harmed by parasites and feces, they are killed by oil spills in areas flourishing with nature.
In Alaska, Chinook salmon (also known as King salmon) are the largest salmon in the world– weighing around 126 pounds. These gargantuan fish are distinguished from the rest, which adds to the need for their preservation. Recently a massive oil spill of 11 million gallons, known as the Exxon Valdez oil spill killed a large amount of King salmon and other wildlife. Water temperatures around the Alaskan coast remained abnormally high even after the spill causing few fish to lay eggs there. Greed outweighs nature, and sea life along with habitats are destroyed because of human exploitation. Furthermore, the lives of consumers are exported; by eating these fish, society is harmed as well.
Additionally, most farmed fish in aquaculture are genetically modified. Their DNA is altered so their size quickly triples and so they only eat 25% of what they used to. GMO means genetically modified organism, and GMO fish has negative impacts on human health. According to nih.gov, the results of studies with GM fish indicate that they cause toxic effects such as hepatic, pancreatic, renal, or reproductive effects and alter the hematological, biochemical, and immunologic parameters.
So, how do we fix this global problem? There are many wild fisheries that lay eggs in the rivers to increase fish populations. The fish continue their lifespans in this new location, bettering the biodiversity and ecosystem in the area. This cycle is efficient and renewable. Support these types of fisheries and eat wild-caught fish!