"Fish farms are floating CAFOs*: A large-scale operation generates as much nitrogen-rich fecal matter as a human town of sixty-five thousand, creating enormous water-quality problems in the bays and inlets where these facilities are built."One might argue that aquaculture is a more sustainable means of supplying seafood than is the dragging of 15-ton nets through vast swathes of open sea.
"Carnivorous species like salmon and halibut are fed on fishmeal made from herring and other smaller species harvested by the same industrial methods that depleted other fisheries: nearly a sixth of the entire commercial catch is fed to farmed fish."That consumption of smaller fish to support fish farms is called an externality: a cost to society that's not included in the price of the good.
I've been learning about externalities. In the livestock industry, some externalities are water pollution and greenhouse gases. The costs associated with those (clean-up, management) aren't included in the price of bacon or ground beef at the store.
I'm not sure what to do. Should I look for fish that didn't come from a farm? Or are farmed fish the better choice, considering how wild catches are depleting oceans and devastating ecosystems?
I can see one thing - those days of 99-cent all-you-can-eat fish fries are long gone.
* Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), also known as "factory farms."
"The largest ships in the ocean often search exclusively for small "trash fish" who were once considered inedible but are now being slaughtered by the billions, ground up, and turned into food pellets for farmed fish. Hundreds of tons of fish are caught with each sweep of the ships' massive nets; they're dragged aboard and dumped into rotting cesspools such as the one shown, where they will suffocate and die before they are taken to a fish-pellet processing plant."