Farming Fish for the Future

Worldwatch Report, 50 pages, E-book $12.95

, by HALWEIL Brian

From Asia to North America, people are eating more seafood, either because it’s the most affordable form of protein (as in many poorer nations) or because it’s the latest health food trend (as in many wealthy nations). But as the demand for fish rises, populations of both marine and freshwater species are being overexploited, resulting in stagnant or declining catches from many wild fisheries.

As a result, seafood is shifting from being the last wild ingredient in our diet to being a highly farmed commodity. Farmed seafood, or aquaculture, now provides 42 percent of the world’s seafood supply and is on target to exceed half in the next decade. Fish farms are taking up more space on land and at sea, as farmers expand into new streams, bays, and oceans. Fish farming itself has morphed from a small-scale, artisanal pursuit into a large-scale science, with innovations in feed technology, cage design, and fish breeding.