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Persuasive Essay CAS 138T, Section 001 Prof.

Lori Bedell

Alaina Weinheimer

A Closer Look at the Concept of Considering Fish Chicken of the Sea

Give me that filet-o-fish. Give me that fish, sings a walled fish on the McDonalds fish in the commercials. The availability of fish at fast food restaurant prices is astonishing when considering the scarcity of fish in the sea. Overfishing has been a world problem for centuries, dating back to the 11th century1. Despite the longevity of this problem, no sustainable solution has been created to address the overfishing. One current approach to end overfishing is the institution of aquaculture, or fish farming. As ideal as fish farming sounds, raising fish like cattle or sheep but in the ocean, there are many complications and horrible effects on the environment. Regulations on aquaculture should be created and strictly enforced or else the environment will face harsh consequences including energy waste and an imbalance in many ecological communities. The idea of aquaculture seems to fit the bill for the developing Asian economies and the American appetite. Worldwide, seafood consumption rose from 40 million tons in 1970 to 86 million tons in 1998. Following World War II and the exposure of soldiers to many Asian countries, there grew a new demand for salmon, shrimp, and other seafood in America. Despite popular belief, however, there are not plenty of fish in the sea, wild stocks, that is, to satiate these demands. As a way to compensate, fish farming produces massive amounts of fish that the wild can no longer provide. Fish farming is also a blessing to many Asian countries for economic reasons. Fish farming provides jobs for locals and a significant income for the area. The aquaculture industry keeps growing. Now, about 40% of all fish consumed comes from fish farms. Fish farming is often viewed as the solution to world hunger as it is able to

Persuasive Essay CAS 138T, Section 001 Prof. Lori Bedell

Alaina Weinheimer

provide enough protein to meet Third World Countries needs1. Unfortunately, there are many negative aspects of aquaculture that outweigh the benefits of aquaculture. If aquaculture is not regulated in some areas, these negative aspects can produce severe environmental consequences. A major problem with aquaculture is its energy inefficiency. No, this is not about whether or not the fish farms turn out the lights at night. This inefficiency has to do with how much fish are required to make food for the fish that are being farmed. The fish in fish farms are fed meal that consists of fish called trash fish or reduction fish and fish oil. To create two pounds of good quality farmed fish food, it takes ten pounds of this trash fish. While smaller farmed fish, such as salmon, can be fed off of tiny, trash fish, larger farmed fish require larger reduction fish. To produce one pound of blue tuna, it takes twenty-six pounds of feed. This feed includes squid, eel, and blue mackerel2. The need for fish feed carves largely into seafood produced by the ocean. About 37% of seafood is used to create fish feed. Currently, the Canadian salmon industry has substituted the vegetable oil for the fish oil that was in the fish feed. This has reduced the amount of fish required for the meal by 25%, but that reduction is outweighed by the fact that the industry has grown 60%. The inefficiency of fish farms has led one scientist, Francis Moore Lappe, to call fish farms, reverse protein factories. In other words, so much protein, fish food, is going into the farms, and little protein, desired fish, is being produced3. There are also serious consequences to the depletion of the reduction fish. These fish are at the bottom of many marine food chains. Their absence can subsequently result in the death of many higher marine organisms2. The only way to reduce the inefficiency of aquaculture, is to discontinue the farming of carnivorous fish, such as the tuna and cod. Farming these fish,

Persuasive Essay CAS 138T, Section 001 Prof. Lori Bedell

Alaina Weinheimer

scientist Brian Halweil, claimed, is like trying to farm tigers, very impractical. There are fish in Africa, such as catfish and carp that require less feed3. However, overall, fish farming is inefficient, regardless of the type of fish being farmed, making aquaculture an unsustainable solution to overfishing. The ecological imbalance fish farms place in certain areas can destroy entire communities. Not only do fish farms require a lot of food, but they also produce a significant amount of waste. This waste, which includes feces, excessive feed, and feed additives leaks directly into the surrounding ocean4. There are also toxic chemicals on the nets that surround the fish farm that are streaming straight into the ocean. It is estimated that the waste produced off of the coast of the British Columbia, known for its salmon fish farms, produces the same amount of nitrogen that a city with a population of 250,000 can. The excessive feed and nitrogen that spreads from the fish farm often sinks to the bottom of the sea and breeds harmful bacteria. These harmful bacteria threaten the lives of bottom-dwelling creatures5. Waste isnt the only way aquaculture is ruining ecosystems. In some places, locals are purposely restructuring the land to suit a fish farm. In China, Thailand, and Vietnam, beautiful mangrove forests have been completely stripped of their natural fauna in order to create shrimp and fish farms3. In other words, fish farming is depleting the worlds aesthetic appeal. Another major threat to the ecological balance of the ocean is the use of antibiotics in fish farms. In fish farm pens, tons of fish, up to 50,000 on salmon farms are kept close together in a small area. On trout farms, up to 27 fish are kept within the size of a bathtub 6. This closeness enables diseases to spread like wildfire. To prevent the spread of disease, fish farmers dump excessive amounts of antibiotics into the fish pens. Some of these antibiotics sift to the bottom

Persuasive Essay CAS 138T, Section 001 Prof. Lori Bedell

Alaina Weinheimer

of the ocean and can create resistant strains of harmful bacteria that can wipe an entire wild population5. This drug residue in the farmed fish can end up in the fish on your dinner plate. This drug residue could contain bacteria with drug resistance and may even cause cancer in the consumer. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell whether or not the fish at the market has a lot residue because the regulation of fish exporting is, in the words of NPR, sketchy. No one really knows where his or her fish are coming from7. Apart from the threat of bacterial infections in fish farms, there are other critters that can cause problems. Though fish dont wear hats or have lots of hair, they can get infected with sea lice. The spread of sea lice is very frequent in fish farms. A pesticide usually combats the sea lice, but fish passing by the farm can get infected with the sea lice and continue to spread it into the wild5. Usually the term super is looked at in positive light, Superman, superhuman, superpowers. However, super breeds are not so super. Super breeds of farmed fish tend to evolve in fish farms. Species in the fish farms are sometime stronger and faster swimmers than the native species. This farmed species may out-compete native species causing the extinction of those species. The escape of these super breeds into the wild can threaten the lives of the wild species predators. If the super breed swims too fast for the predator to catch it, the predator will starve4. In short, fish farming upsets the balance of ecological communities in a multitude of ways. If the environmental repercussions are not convincing enough to avoid purchasing farmed fish, there are some unfortunate aspects of fish farming regarding consumer health. Farmed fish have less nutritional value than wild species. Farmed fish have a higher fat content and lower protein content than wild fish have. Wild salmon have 20% more protein and 20% less

Persuasive Essay CAS 138T, Section 001 Prof. Lori Bedell

Alaina Weinheimer

fat than farm salmon. Farmed salmon has another unfortunate health affect. Farmed salmon is gray. A pink dye called canthaxanthin is added to the salmon. This dye is known to adversely affect eyesight5. If ones sense of responsibility to the environment is not enough to end their purchasing of farmed fish, there are plenty of health reasons why one should not eat farmed fish. In summary, fish farming is extremely harmful to the environment and potentially harmful to consumers. Some drastic changes need to be made to the aquaculture industry in order for this alleged solution to world hunger to actually become the solution. For instance, waste from fish farms needs to be controlled. Nets around fish farms need to be stronger to prevent other organisms from entering the pen and prevent the exchange of disease from the farm and the wild. Also, carnivorous fish should not be permissible to farm because of their high quality energy requirements. If such regulations are developed and strongly implemented aquaculture could live up to its feeding potential. For now, scientists consider the most sustainable solution to overfishing is co management of fisheries. This co-management involves local communities, conservation groups, and the government all taking part in the regulation of fish. With all people involved, researchers found that there was more willingness to protect the marine organisms. Comanagement does not work everywhere. In places where there is a huge global market and high demand, conservancy lacked. Chain fisheries made locals feel powerless and less motivated to conserve the local fish. Thus, possibly the shift from large-scale fisheries to smallscale fisheries in which the community has a greater influence could lead to sustainable fishing7. Until aquaculture is regulated, small-scale fisheries are the face of sustainable fishing.

Persuasive Essay CAS 138T, Section 001 Prof. Lori Bedell

Alaina Weinheimer

1. Hays, Jeffery. "Overfishing and Decline in Fish Numbers."Facts and Details. Facts and Details, 01 Jan 2012. Web. 4 Apr 2013.

2. "The Pros and Cons of Fish Farming." Britannica Advocacy for Animals. Britannica, 04 Aug 2008.
Web. 4 Apr 2013.

3. Stier, Ken. "Fish Farming's Growing Dangers." Time. `Time, 19 Sep 2007. Web. 4 Apr 2013. 4. Lin, Doris. "What's Wrong with Fish Farms?." About.com. About.com. Web. 4 Apr 2013. 5. "Farmed vs. Fresh Fish." National Cooperatives Grocers Association. National Cooperatives
Grocers Association. Web. 4 Apr 2013.

6. "Aquafarming." PETA.org. PETA. Web. 4 Apr 2013. 7. Shute, Nancy. "Farm-Raised Tilapia, With A Dash Of Antibiotic." The Salt. NPR, 11 Nov 2011.
Web. 4 Apr 2013.

8. "One Solution to Global Overfishing Found." Science Daily. Science Daily, 19 Mar 2012. Web. 4
Apr 2013.