When you think about the seafood you order at a restaurant, you usually picture the fish being caught on a wooden boat by fisherman don’t you? However, aquaculture – or fish farming is one of the fastest growing industries and chances are, your delicious salmon was produced this way. In Australia, over 40 different types of seafood are cultivated in aquaculture farms, including barramundi, Murray cod, mussels, oysters and prawns. We also have a post dedicated to the difference between farm-raised and wild-caught fish.
Aquaculture is the farming and management of freshwater and marine animals and plants in a controlled environment. The main purpose of this aquaculture is to supply for human consumption and supports the food chain at a lower level by producing algae and other plant organisms for animal feed. Increasing global population coupled with increased seafood consumption results in the growing demand for seafood. Global seafood consumption reached 143 million metric tons in 2009, which is an increase of more than 20 million tons in 10 years. Currently, our consumer demand in Australia for seafood exceeds the supply from domestic production and continues to increase.
- Although aquaculture can be considered more sustainable, it isn’t always economically viable as this method doesn’t work for every species. Carnivorous fish, which is most fish, need to eat smaller fish, or pellets made from fish. For example, Salmon consume the fish that eat the plankton; they don’t eat the plankton directly. On the other hand, tilapia, which feed directly on phytoplankton are great for this type of farming.
- Another fundamental concerns with farming many seafood species is that aquaculture doesn’t take the pressure off wild fisheries.
- Polluted Ecosystems: The discharge of waste from aquaculture facilities into surrounding waterways can be an issue. In the case of sea cages, a build-up of matter and unused food can lead to nutrient overload and pollute the local environment. The impacts of sea-cage farming on a wide geographical scale are generally unknown, but local impacts are likely to be reversible once the cages are removed.
- Farmed tuna are harvested from the wild as juveniles: Farming of southern bluefin tuna involves the capture of juvenile wild tuna from the ocean. Around 90% of this are caught in Australian waters, who are destined for fattening pens in South Australia, placing further pressure on these critically endangered fish.
In Australia, the scale of aquaculture in ponds are relatively small and regulations are tighter compared to our neighbouring countries. However, we must take caution with further industry expansion, which will inevitably increase pressure on our local coastal environments.
Help stop overfishing by supporting our petition to ban super trawlers in Australia!
– A.K #error404fish
The ocean makes up 71% of our earth’s surface and is home for millions of marine wildlife and plants. The Ocean is also the largest source of food in the world as fish is the main daily source of protein for 1.2 billion people. This makes it an extremely important place for both humans and animals who mutually depend on each other to live in harmony.
However, Sydney is facing the next big GFC – Global Fish Crisis. This is due to unsustainable fishing methods and overfishing. Overfishing has risen to such an extent that many of fish and marine species have either become extinct or are at the verge of extinction.
What is Overfishing?
Overfishing is the act of fishing from the oceans faster than the fish can reproduce and replicate in numbers. Sophisticated fishing technologies have proliferated the rate that industries are catching fish beyond natural replenishment, allowing them to do so easily and cheaper.
This leaves lesser fish in the oceans meaning that the food chain is disturbed and fishermen have to travel longer distances deeper into the sea to catch fish which causes even more complications.
1. Poor Fishery Management
Unsustainable fishing is caused by inadequate fishery management and unethical fishing practices. From a 2008 UN report, the world’s fishing fleets are losing US$50 billion each year through depleted stocks and poor fisheries management. Profit driven fisheries who engage in large scale fishing not only affect ocean biodiversity, but the socio-economic well-being of the coastal communities who depend on fish for survival.
Every year, 27 million tonnes of unwanted fish and marine life such as endangered sharks, turtles and dolphins are killed alongside the target fish. These practices are pushing many marine species towards extinction and contributing to the food chain imbalance. Stop destructive fishing practices by signing our petition to permanently ban the super trawler in Australia.
3. Human Population and Consumption
Rising human population is the greatest threat to marine, estuarine and freshwater fishes and their associated habitats. This is exemplified by the rapid decline in ‘peak fish’ since 1950s. However, the consumption of consumers correlate with population growth, with the average Australian consuming approximately 20kg of seafood a year. This creates further stress on the marine population due to the rising demand for seafood.
Image: Before vs After showing damage to coral and marine habitats from human actions.
How does overfishing affect you?
The impact of declining fish stock due to overfishing negatively influences Sydney’s community, environment and health. Scientists have forecasted a 37% rise in seafood consumption by 2050 that will result in the disappearance of most wild fish. This information asymmetry on how the fish are caught, how they breed and their natural habitats can lead to numerous issues affecting sustainability and health.
How can we stop Overfishing?
It’s important to acknowledge that our day to day actions and choices have direct impacts to the bigger picture. We have the responsibility of encouraging and supporting our nation’s politicians and policy-makers to make decisions to stop overfishing.
You can help create a healthier and more responsible future by choosing sustainable seafood. Read more about sustainable seafood.