In recent times, there is little or no difference between fish farming (aquaculture) and just getting fish from the rivers or any other water body.
Innovative ways are being developed day by day to meet the ever-growing demand for fish (protein) and this has led to the development of deep-sea aquaculture. It is said that approximately one of every four fish consumed today comes from a fish farm.
But, is aquaculture good? What are the pros and cons of fish farming? Well, look no further as you will get your questions answered through this article.
Table of Contents
Pros and Cons of Fish Farming
Below are the pros and cons of fish farming. We are going to start with the pros first, after that, we will then take a look at the cons of fish farming.
Pros of Fish Farming
- A Good Source of Income
- Capacity to Feed a Large Population
- Lower Prices for Fish
- Health Benefits
- Stable Supply of Fish
- Relief for our Wild Aquatic Population
- Reduction of Waste Associated with Commercial Fishing
- Protection of Habitats
1. A Good Source of Income
Well for starters, fish farming is a good entrepreneurial opportunity as it provides fish farmers the opportunity to produce a considerable quantity of fish for substantial gains. Well, why not? Seeing seafood is in high commercial demand even exported to other countries.
Fish farmers can even become producers of employment through fish farming as controlling a big fish farm requires manpower especially the fish farms in oceans as cages and big fish tanks are used for the breeding of the fish.
In Asia and some other countries, the fish farming industry has been able to create thousands of jobs as fish farming has grown to include canning, packaging even processing of these sea foods to create more demand.
Aquaculture has reduced the unemployment rates of some parts of our planet.
2. Capacity to Feed a Large Population
Fish farming has grown from just providing fish for a small village or community to providing fish or seafood to a larger population and since the world population is growing at a rapid rate, fish farming seems to be what it needs.
Aquaculture companies can provide sea foods to anywhere they can find a market and this can be as big as a nation. Some big aquaculture companies can control the market of continents and since these fishes are grown, the pressure has been reduced on our global fish stock.
Fish farming has been able to tackle the issue of starvation of some local populations since agriculture has been greatly impacted by our rapid development and other climatic conditions.
3. Lower Prices for Fish
When there is an increased supply of fish at a low risk and low cost then the prices of fish would reduce. This seems far-fetched but, this is what fish farming provides us with.
Also with a stable supply of fish and other sea foods, there would not be scarcity of fish in the market which can lead to a hike in the price of fish.
This would be beneficial to the local population and indigent groups because of the low price which would assist them in the delegation of their money to other important things.
4. Health Benefits
We all agree that protein is an essential nutrient for our survival and growth. Aquaculture has been able to make this vital nutrient and other essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids available to a larger population at a low threat of predators.
Fish farming has been able to solve the issue of insufficient omega-3 fish oils in areas where people suffer from the lack of omega-3. Having fish in our diet is a great addition and has been noted to help prevent diseases like cancer of the colon.
5. Stable Supply of Fish
Fish farmers can provide a stable supply of fish and this is because the fish farmers are responsible for the growth of their fish as they supply them with the necessary nutrients needed for their survival and can harvest them when they feel they should.
The fishes controlled by these fish farmers are in a controlled environment and are protected against predators and diseases. This is very beneficial, especially in areas where people are dependent on seafood for survival.
6. Relief for our Wild Aquatic Population
Over time, we have had problems with overfishing resulting in the depletion of fish in many water bodies, and the endangering or even the extinction of critical species. Fish farming has proven to be a suitable method of fish restoration.
Though overfishing is not entirely the cause of this depletion because we still face other environmental problems impacting our oceans like plastic pollution and improper waste disposal, overfishing has contributed to the significant decrease of fish.
With the invention of fish farming, some of these endangered species can be restored since nature finds her to restore things. The focus of fish farming is that people no longer disturb the fish in our water bodies but, substitute wild fishing themselves to consuming sea foods from fish farms.
7. Reduction of Waste Associated with Commercial Fishing
Commercial fishing has long been linked to the pollution of our oceans. In commercial fishing, there are a lot of plastics and synthetic materials released into the oceans.
We are not ignorant of what plastic pollution does to our oceans. But, with the advent of fish farming, we can be able to minimize the need for commercial fishing and hence protect our oceans.
8. Protection of Habitats
Since we talked about commercial fishing in the previous point, let’s expand on that. The pollution of our water bodies by these plastics and other synthetic materials released during commercial fishing destroys the natural habitats of many fishes and aquatic organisms. Both fishing boats and fishing nets are great culprits to this.
But, if we can focus more on fish farming and drastically minimize or eliminate commercial farming, our aquatic animals will not be entangled by fishing nets, and our water bodies will not be polluted by oil spills which can destroy the aquatic habitats.
This would protect the natural habitats of ocean life.
Cons of Fish Farming
- Commercial Fishing Industry May Suffer
- Water Pollution
- Use of Antibiotics
- Use of Growth Hormones
- Genetic Manipulation
- Fishes are Widely Regarded as Unnatural
- Farm Fishes Risk Escaping to Nearby Water Bodies
- Altered Ecosystem
- Feed is made from Wild Fishes
- Varying Regulations by Countries
1. Commercial Fishing Industry May Suffer
Since we talked about the commercial fishing industry last, I think we should continue but, sorry to say this would be in the opposite aspect but the truth is that except some of the commercial fishing companies have their alternative or dive into large-scale fish farming, they would be put out of business.
Well, this is because as aquaculture-grown fish populates the fish market, there would be consequently a decrease in the demand for commercial fish and this can lead to the bankruptcy of some commercial fishing companies.
2. Water Pollution
Water pollution also happens in fishing and farming. This happens in some ways.
Fish farming can pollute the oceans when the wastewater from fish farms which are produced from chemicals used in treating the fishes or the feces and other unwanted components are disposed into the oceans.
This can contaminate the water body, killing the aquatic organisms and degrading the water reducing its quality. So, fish farmers have to come up with innovative approaches to reduce or eliminate this pollution.
3. Use of Antibiotics
Large amounts of antibiotics are used to keep fish in good health. This is because diseases can spread very fast in fish farms and so to prevent losses and death of fishes, antibiotics are used as medicine to both treat and prevent infection of these fishes.
The problem with this is that these antibiotics can affect humans when we consume these fishes through the bioaccumulation of the antibiotics. This can lead to a wide range of effects like diseases, antibiotics resistance (antibiotics might not work when we have some health issue which may lead to more health concerns and even death), etc.
4. Use of Growth Hormones
To meet the ever-growing demand for fish in their newly found way of entering the market, fish farmers have transcended into using growth hormones to speed up the growth of the fish in their farm hence, increasing their profits.
The problem with this is that the use of growth hormones for the growth of these fishes can be harmful to human health even leading to long-term effects that we have little or no knowledge on how to deal with.
5. Genetic Manipulation
When we talk about fish farming, bear in mind that we are also talking about genetically modified fish.
This is because man has been looking for ways to produce more fishes with fast growth and disease resistance and increases their income at low cost and they have found that with genetically modified fishes.
But, there are many concerns with the fish that are genetically modified. This is because we have no idea what has been done to the fish or how the chemicals used will impact our health.
The impact of genetic engineering on human health is still being studied with some thoughts saying that genetically modified organisms can be cancerous. Some argue that wild fishes are more nutritious than genetically modified fishes which are quite true.
6. Fishes are Widely Regarded as Unnatural
It is a widely accepted notion that fish gotten from fish farms are unnatural just like factory farming in meat production and this is because these fishes are not grown in the natural surrounding but built environment with various chemicals injected into these fishes to keep them healthy and grow fast.
This alone has left many skeptical and hasn’t gotten acceptability by the public. People even refuse to buy fishes gotten from fish farms.
7. Farm Fishes Risk Escaping to Nearby Water Bodies
No matter the control measures put in place to make sure the fish stay in the fish farm, they always find their way to the wild. This is because a vast amount of fish is grown on the farm.
This poses a problem because the fish coming from these farms are different from the fish grown in the wild and as they mingle with the fishes in the wild, we are not quite sure what the impact might be either short-term or long-term.
Another fear in this aspect is that the pest that affects fish farms like bacteria and sea lice can also migrate to the wild bringing diseases the fishes in the wild don’t know how to deal with. This can lead to the infection of a larger population of fish.
8. Altered Ecosystem
When fish farming especially large ones is created, the local ecosystem is altered. This is because natural habitats like mangroves harboring a wide range of plants and animals are destroyed for these farms to be constructed.
This leaves the animals to migrate if they can or die off with the plants because of the lack of survival amenities. This can lead to a wide range of effects we are not yet ready for or have knowledge of.
9. Feed is made from Wild Fishes
It is not just that the feed for the fishes in the fish farms are gotten from fishes in the wild but it usually takes a large quantity of fish to produce a small quantity of feed. According to San Francisco Chronicle, it would take about 26 pounds of fish to form one pound of bluefin tuna.
Wow! Guess this is why people argue that fish farming depletes our fish resources not preserve them.
10. Varying Regulations by Countries
Countries differ in their regulations of the food products they allow in the public market. The fish from fish farming are not exempted.
Some countries put stringent rules which affect fish farming and do not give fish farming free room to strive. While some countries have accepted fish farming with open arms. This has impacted the global business of fish farming.
This being said, there should be a global regulation needed to both accept and monitor fish farming.
In conclusion, you are the one to decide having seen the pros and cons of fish farming which side you are on, and whether you will consume fish from fish farms. Better still, become a vegetarian. They are both healthy and sustainable.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.