Never heard of Aquaculture before?

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.

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Some concerns: 

  1. 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.
  2. Another fundamental concerns with farming many seafood species is that aquaculture doesn’t take the pressure off wild fisheries.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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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

 

 

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Are we really eating the fish we think we’re eating?

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As Australians, we like to think that we’re eating Australian seafood however, 75% of our seafood is currently imported, predominately from Asia. With scientists forecasting 37% rise in seafood consumption by 2050, this demand can put pressure on fisheries to overfish.

Therefore, how do we know that the fish we’re buying is sustainable? 

A key to choosing sustainable seafood is labelling. Despite some non-government and government efforts to improve this over the years, such as a mandatory requirement in 2008 to include ‘country of origin’ labelling for packaged seafood and AMCS’s Australian Fish Names Standard introduced in 2007; we still have a long way to go because it is still possible to buy fish that was caught or farmed overseas, but processed in Australia, labelled as ‘Made in Australia’.

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Australia’s weak seafood labelling laws means consumer health is at risk: high levels of mercury or other contaminants can be found in marine creatures such as fish/sharks which puts your health in danger.

What we still need on seafood labelling:

  1. Accurate names of species for imported, as well as domestic seafood.
  2. Where it was caught.
    • If caught in Australia, the individual State or Commonwealth fishery from which the fish is sourced should be provided.
    • If the fish is imported, the major fishing area as designated by the UNFAO should be identified.
  3. How it was caught: labelling for which type of fishing gear or aquaculture method used.
  4. The name of the company that caught or farmed the seafood.

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The Australian Federal Government is needed now more than ever to impose stricter regulations on labelling and traceability. All fishing has an impact but some methods are more harmful than others. This means that if we knew how our fish was caught/farmed, we could avoid choosing seafood that was taken or produced by more damaging methods such as super trawling. 

Help stop overfishing by banning the super trawler in Australia permanently by signing our petition.

Also improve labelling by joining the Labelmyfish campaign.

– A.K #Error404fish

What you need to know about wild-caught vs. farm-raised fish

What is farmed fish?  Is one source more sustainable than the other?  Does wild-caught fish mean that it’s healthier ?

We know the benefits of eating fish and now that we know that overfishing is an issue. You might wonder about sustainability and many people seem to be unsure of the differences between wild-caught and farm-raised fish.

Many people actually assume that wild-caught fish must be a lot better for you because it’s more “natural.”

Short Answer: It depends!  There are a lot of factors to consider such as nutrition, sustainability, safety and cost. And the outcome will be different depending on the species of fish, as well as where and how the fish is caught.

Organic Seafood

Image Credit:  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Wild-caught: caught by fisherman in their natural environment.

Farm-raised: grown in pens that are often submerged in ponds, lakes and salt water

Sustainability 

It can be a misconception that farmed-fish are more sustainable because they have been promoted by the fishing industry and governments as the solution to declining fish stocks in our ocean. However, fish-farming practices often causes a lot of pollution throughout the water and threaten existing creatures and habitats.

However, traditional fishing isn’t the solution either. Wild fish are harvested in a way that does a lot of collateral damage to the ecosystem and other fish. When fishing boats are sent out into the ocean, this isn’t very carbon-footprint friendly. Additionally, destructive fishing methods such as Super Trawlers are extremely harmful to our oceans. Sign our petition to ban them permanently in Australia. 

Find out about sustainable seafood here.

Health

Besides protein, fish are also the main source of omega-3 and low in saturated fats. The nutritional benefits between the two are not as great as you imagine.

For some species, such as the rainbow trout are almost identical in terms of calories, protein, and most nutrients.

  • Omega 3: In terms of vitamin 3, farmed fish have significantly higher levels.
  • Contaminants: From a widely cited study , they found that the levels of PCBs,  a potentially carcinogenic chemical, to be ten times higher in farmed fish than in wild-caught fish. However later studies  found that these levels are similar between the two.
  • Mercury: Levels in mercury are higher in some species of wild-caught fish such as the Bluefin Tuna. 

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A great resource you can use to search seafood recommendations is Seafood watch that will help you determine which type of seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that have less impact on the environment.

Additionally, If you love sushi, check out our easy sustainable sushi guide! 

– A.K #Erro404fish

Sustainable Sushi 101

Every time you enter a sushi restaurant, simple ask: “Do You Serve Sustainable Seafood?”

Yes we agree, ‘sushi is love, sushi is life’ but have you ever thought about how your choice of sushi actually impacts the environment?  Now that we know some of the detrimental effects of overfishing, it’s important to re-think some of our everyday actions, such as seafood choices, in order to save the fish. 

Sustainable sushi is made from farmed or fished sources that can be maintained for future generations without jeopardising ecosystems. Unsustainable sushi can lead to concerns for the environment, economy and health.

Choosing sustainable sushi is one of the ways to stop overfishing, this choice can lead to the emergence of more sustainable sushi restaurants, responsible fisheries and stricter government regulations.

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Better Sushi choices include: 

These species are generally resilient to fishing pressure and are caught/farmed using techniques that have low environmental impacts. Some of these species may still have minor conservation concerns, but have been assessed to be a better seafood choice.

🍣  Salmon

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🍣  Mackerel

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🍣  Smelt Roe  (capelin)

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Sushi to avoid: 

Wild caught species in this group, whether Australian or imported, may be overfished or their capture heavily threatens our oceans.

🍙 Tuna (Especially Bluefin)

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🍙 Yellow Tail

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🍙  Shrimp

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🍙 Octopus

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Some sustainable sushi restaurants in Sydney include:

🎣 Fish & Co.

🎣  love.fish

🎣 Wasabi Warriors

 SIGN OUR PETITION TO BAN THE SUPER TRAWLER PERMANENTLY IN AUSTRALIA!

– A.K #error404fish 🐟

Your Oppor-Tuna-ty to Save

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Although Overfishing disrupts a vast number of different species and marine habitats, in particular tuna populations have severely declined due to overfishing and illegal overfishing. Although tuna does provide food and livelihoods for many people, they are more than just seafood. Tuna are a top predator in the marine food chain, maintaining a balance in the ocean environment.

Here’s why Tuna populations are most endangered due to overfishing:

Tuna are among the most commercially valuable fish on the planet. The Atlantic bluefin is a highly sought-after delicacy for sushi and sashimi in Asia—a single fish has sold for over $700,000! Driven by such high prices, fishermen use even more refined techniques to catch tuna. And the fish are disappearing as a result.

  1. Southern BlueFish TunaBeing one of Sydney’s most popular fish to eat, the Australian southern bluefin tuna industry is worth over $122 million annually. (2014 figure) Classified as ‘critically endangered’ on the IUCN’s Red List of threatened species means that population levels are down to around 5% of original levels, yet overfishing continues.
  2. Bigeye TunaBigeye tuna are an important commercial fish, especially prized in Asia, they are usually marketed as fresh or frozen.As bluefin tuna populations shrink around the world, pressure on bigeye fisheries is increasing.  They are also classified as ‘vulnerable’ and overfishing continues in the Eastern and Western Pacific Oceans.
  3. Yellowfin TunaAccording to the ISSF Scientific Advisory Committee, Yellowfin are overfishing and are classified as ‘nearly threatened.’ They are also increasingly susceptible to by-catch as juvenile yellowfin school with adult skipjack. They are an important commercial tuna species, particularly for the raw sashimi market.
  4. Albacore Tuna
    This species are smaller and extremely commercially important, as they are one of the two main canned tuna species (along with skipjack), and labeled as ‘solid white’ tuna. They are mainly overfished in the Northern and Southern Atlantic Oceans.

Greenpeace have a canned tuna guide that you can refer to when purchasing Tuna.

Want to help out? Sign our petition, you can also find out more about the effects of overfishing here and about sustainable seafood here.

– A.K #error404fish

Is there really ‘plenty of fish in the sea?’

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There’s a popular saying that there are ‘plenty of fish in the sea’. Metaphorically speaking, this idea is comforting when getting over a break-up or a rejection. However realistically,  actual fish stock worldwide is rapidly DECLINING and overfishing is a serious problem that directly affects Sydney-siders like you.

 So much so, that around 85% of global fish stocks are currently over-exploited and at home in Australia,  42% of fish are either over-fished or have an unknown status.

Additionally, scientists have forecasted a 37% rise in sea-food consumption by 2050 that will result in the disappearance of most wild fish. We are unable to sustain our growing appetites with local fishing methods, meaning that over 70% of Australian seafood is imported along with any environmental and social problems from the country of origin.

So you might be pondering, so what if the world is running out of fish?  How does this affect me? Or (hopefully) What can I do to help?

#Error404fish is a social innovation campaign that aims to raise awareness about overfishing and provide you with a solution to help the cause. Throughout the next few weeks,  these questions will be answered and you can find out more about ways to save Australia’s biodiversity, coral reefs and marine species. For more information, visit our solution page and connect with the community through Facebook and Twitter.

– A.K #error404fish