By Annabel Wyatt.
Farmed Fish – What are we really eating?
For the fist time in the 20th century, farmed fish production is actually outweighing farmed beef production with 66million tonnes being produced in 2012 to 63 million tonnes of beef. That’s a pretty impressive amount of fish, and isn’t that a good thing considering fish is so healthy in terms of protein, nutrients and omega three content?
Well that’s not strictly the case; yes, farmed fish is a cheap way to eat fish and to get some fish into your diet. However it’s environmental repercussions are definitely something you should think about before you buy those 2 for 99p pre packaged fish fillets. Here are a few things to consider before you buy…
When we farm fish, the food they eat obviously isn’t going to be the same as the food fish eat in the wild. The food these fish mainly get is stuff like fishmeal, or artificial foods made from things like grains and soy. Because this isn’t their natural diet, a lot of fish can grow to be the “wrong” colour so colourings are often added to the food the fish eats, as well as there being around 50% less Omega Three levels in farmed fish.
In addition to this, keeping fish in close quarters can lead to outbreaks of disease, infections and sea lice, which are treated with antibiotics in their food, which then end up being eaten by us! Sounds pretty nasty doesn’t it?
The use of antibiotics in fish as well as what they eat and even their faecal matter is also a factor in the environmental damage around waters where farming occurs and even in the surrounding waters for miles. Faecal matter is said to build up on the seabed, which produces dangerous amounts of bacteria, harmful to the wild fish, the coral reef and surrounding environment. This along with the fact, that research has shown, fish that swim through the surrounding waters are highly susceptible to disease and premature death.
Feeding farmed fish also takes a heavy toll, with a diet of smaller prey fish taken from the sea, depriving other fish of food, or otherwise eating soy based food which is said to cause huge amounts deforestation… but we could be here all day talking about the environmental effects, take a look at these sources for more information.
How wild is “wild”
It would seem these days the word “wild” is thrown around just as much as the word “natural” and we’ve become so accustomed to speculate how natural a food item is when it’s packaging says it’s natural, that we actively check the ingredients to make sure, usually with startling results that the particular “natural” product actually isn’t natural at all!
There’s also a chance that farmed fish that have escaped into natural waters are then line caught and sold to fish mongers as “wild”. The safest bet on weather fish is indeed wild is to check where it was caught. Alaska has the highest percentage of wild fish due to heavy protection of it’s waters. Find fishmongers you can trust who are knowledgeable about fish and can give guidance about where they get their fish.
We hope this is useful to all those fish lovers out there, and let us know in the comments or on our social channels if you have any thoughts on fish farming x