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The steadily increase in consumer demand for seafood and the concurrent depletion of many wild fish stocks, aquaculture, or “fish-farming,” is now used to produce almost half of the world’s seafood.1 In fact, aquaculture is currently the fastest growing sector of global food production; as wild fisheries continue to be overexploited and mismanaged, aquaculture production is expected to double by 2050.2
Unfortunately, the industrialization of aquaculture has resulted in many of the same environmental and human health problems currently created by livestock factory farms. As in the case of industrial livestock production, many of the harmful impacts of industrial aquaculture stem from the concentration of large numbers of animals within small facilities. In addition to polluting aquatic ecosystems with the enormous volume of waste produced by the fish they confine, aquaculture facilities threaten the environment and human health by releasing hazardous substances such as pesticides, antibiotics, and other drugs into the aquatic environment. Industrial aquaculture operations can also harm natural fish populations by introducing diseases and non-native species into the ocean.
Pollutants Emitted by Aquaculture Facilities
Open water industrial aquaculture facilities typically confine fish within cages or netpens, which allow fish waste, uneaten feed, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and other pollutants to pass directly into the surrounding water.
As in the case of livestock manure, when large quantities of fish feces enter an aquatic ecosystem, nutrient levels in the water increase. As described in the Environmental Impacts section, the influx of excess nutrients induces algal growth, and can ultimately lead to eutrophication and the reduction of aquatic biodiversity.3
The constant release of uneaten feed causes similar problems; when feed accumulates on the seafloor, it is eventually decomposed by bacteria, which consume oxygen dissolved in the water and can thus create hypoxic “dead zones” below aquaculture facilities.4 The environmental damage caused by fish feces and uneaten feed is particularly severe in enclosed waters with low water exchange rates (ex. lakes, slow-moving rivers, and shallow bays).
Pesticides and Pharmaceuticals.
In attempt to prevent disease and epidemics of parasites, industrial aquaculture operations use large quantities of drugs, pesticides, and other chemicals. Although the environmental and human health impacts of many of these substances are not well understood, their use is poorly regulated, reporting requirements are insufficient, and federal oversight is inadequate.5 While some chemicals threaten consumers’ health by leaving harmful residues in fish, drugs and pesticides can also wreak havoc on the environment since many are toxic to aquatic plants and animals.6,7 For more information, read Food & Water Watch’s detailed analysis,
Misuse of Antibiotics
When thousands of fish are confined in a small space, it’s easy for disease to spread quickly. Often, industrial aquaculture facilities address this problem by utilizing the same irresponsible antibiotics practices as industrial livestock operations; rather than reducing the density of fish, fish farms continuously administer subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics. This promotes the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can infect humans.8 The problem is exacerbated by cages and netpens allowing antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria to pass freely into surrounding waters.
Escapees and Biodiversity
Aquaculture facilities also threaten natural ecosystems by facilitating the introduction of nonnative marine species (or domesticated varieties of native species) into the surrounding environment. As a result of net damage from storms, industrial accidents, and attempts by marine mammals to catch farmed fish, many aquaculture facilities release substantial numbers of fish into the environment. For instance, the David Suzuki Foundation estimates that in British Columbia, an average of 90,000 farmed salmon escaped each year between 1990 and 2000.9
Fish that escape from aquaculture facilities pose a significant threat to the viability of existing wild populations – particularly to sensitive populations that have already suffered from overfishing or habitat loss. While nonnative fish species threaten native populations by competing for food and habitat, farmed varieties of native species also pose an environmental threat; after having escaped from pens, farmed fish may breed with their wild counterparts, thereby introducing farmed genetic traits into the gene pool of wild populations. This can dramatically reduce the genetic diversity of the given species in a short period of time.10
Parasites and Disease
Despite intensive use of antibiotics and pesticides, crowded conditions within aquaculture facilities foster the proliferation of parasites and disease, which can spread to wild marine species.11 The large number of fish within industrial aquaculture farms provides ample hosts for parasites such as sea lice; epidemics can decimate farmed fish, and also affect wild populations – especially when aquaculture facilities are situated along migratory routes of wild fish.12
Aquaculture facilities can also introduce viral and bacterial diseases into wild fish populations – disease can be spread by live fish that escape from pens, contaminated equipment, fish parts, sea lice, and humans who handle contaminated fish.13 The risk of disease transmission is increased when imported, unprocessed fish are used as feed. For instance, imported pilchards fed to tuna farmed in Australia are thought to have caused viral outbreaks in 1995 and 1998 that killed 75 percent of the wild adult pilchard population in South Australia.14
Depletion of Wild Fish Stocks
Some aquaculture facilities use massive quantities of wild fish, which are processed to create feed for carnivorous fish species such as salmon, trout, tuna, cod, and grouper. For instance, experts estimate that 2.7 to 3.5 pounds of wild fish are used to produce one pound of farmed salmon;15 as many as 20 pounds of wild fish are consumed to produce a pound of tuna.16 This resource-intensive form of production depletes the stock of small fish such as anchovy, sardine, pilchard, and mackerel, which can ultimately disrupt aquatic ecosystems by adversely affecting predators such as large fish, marine mammals, and seabirds.17 Researchers are looking for ways to minimize the use of wild fish in feed, but not all the alternatives are positive. Soy is increasingly used to add protein to fish feed; a practice which could encourage the industrial production of mono-cropping genetically engineered soy.
Fortunately for seafood lovers, certain forms of aquaculture can be conducted without creating ecological disaster. Re-circulating land-based farming operations are able to raise fish in closed systems without emitting pollutants into the surrounding environment; many of these fish farms refrain from using antibiotics, hormones, or chemicals. Small-scale aquaponic operations raise fish and vegetables/herbs in the same system, using the plants to filter out waste and use it as fertilizer. Sustainable aquaculture facilities can also choose to raise omnivorous or herbivorous fish species such as catfish, tilapia, or carp to minimize (or even eliminate) the use of wild fish in feed. In conjunction, sustainable aquaculture and better management of wild fisheries can provide us with long-term access to seafood.
Did You Know?
In 2002, more than 630,000 salmon escaped from aquaculture facilities in Norway – that’s more than the total number of Atlantic salmon that spawned naturally in Norway’s rivers!18
In 2005, 51,953 Atlantic Salmon Escapes from a Sites in Scotland treated with Slice/Emamectin Benzoate 22
15 to 20 percent of all feed can pass into surrounding waters uneaten, thus creating a substantial stream of waste.19
Currently, Asia is the world leader in aquaculture, representing over 90 percent of total tonnage, while North America produces only 1.6 percent.20
More than 80 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported, and the U.S. exports about 70 percent of what is caught or farmed here into countries with higher import standards than are maintained in the U.S.2121
For More Information:
Food & Water Watch Fish Program (www.foodandwaterwatch.org/fish)
Information relating to open ocean aquaculture, seafood safety, oceans management and sustainable solutions for aquaculture.
Aquaculture Network Information Center (ANIC)
Created by the USDA Extension Service, this site provides access to an extensive selection of national and international electronic aquaculture resources.
SeaWeb Aquaculture Resources
A comprehensive collection of regularly updated aquaculture resources from SeaWeb, a nonprofit organization that works to promote ocean conservation.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine – CVM and Aquaculture
The FDA is responsible for overseeing the use of drugs administered to fish within aquaculture facilities. This site includes the Guidance documents, sections of the Policy and Procedures Manual, research projects, and other information used in support of CVM’s aquaculture program, as well as drugs approved for use in aquaculture.
Consumer Guides to Buying Seafood:
Provides guidelines for choosing clean, green, safe seafoods. Includes a printable seafood substitutes card for sustainable alternatives to popular seafood choices, a cookbook with sustainable seafood recipes, and detailed information on why various types of seafood are or are not good choices for consumers.
Food and Water Watch
Basic guidelines for purchasing safe, sustainably raised fish. Also includes a printable restaurant card, which can be used to request that your favorite restaurant switch to wild-caught seafood.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The Role of Aquaculture in Sustainable Development. FAO September 2007. Medical News Today, “Sustainable Aquaculture Critical to Feed the World,” Feb 21, 2007. Scottish Association for Marine Science and Napier University. Review and Synthesis of the Environmental Impacts of Aquaculture. Scottish Executive Central Research Unit. 2002. Weber, Michael L. What Price Farmed Fish: a review of the environmental & social costs of farming carnivorous fish. SeaWeb Aquaculture Clearinghouse. 2003. Food & Water Watch. Yuck! Harmful Aquaculture Chemicals and Waste. Food & Water Watch. May 2008. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Fish and Fisheries Hazards and Controls Guidance: Third Edition. Accessed June 2008. Weber, Michael L. What Price Farmed Fish: a review of the environmental & social costs of farming carnivorous fish. SeaWeb Aquaculture Clearinghouse. 2003. Cabello, Felipe C. “Heavy use of prophylactic antibiotics in aquaculture: a growing problem for human and animal health and for the environment.” Environmental Microbiology. Vol. 8, 7. July 2006. The David Suzuki Foundation. Escaping Farmed Salmon Pose Risks. 2007.
10. Weber, Michael L. What Price Farmed Fish: a review of the environmental & social costs of farming carnivorous fish. SeaWeb Aquaculture Clearinghouse. 2003.
11. Scottish Association for Marine Science and Napier University. Review and Synthesis of the Environmental Impacts of Aquaculture. Scottish Executive Central Research Unit. 2002.
12. Weber, Michael L. What Price Farmed Fish: a review of the environmental & social costs of farming carnivorous fish. SeaWeb Aquaculture Clearinghouse. 2003.
13. Weber, Michael L. What Price Farmed Fish: a review of the environmental & social costs of farming carnivorous fish. SeaWeb Aquaculture Clearinghouse. 2003.
14. WWF, the World Conservation Organization. Aquaculture Problems: parasites and disease. 2008.
15. David Suzuki Foundation. Net Loss of Wild Fish to Produce Farmed Salmon. Accessed June 2008.
16. SeaWeb Aquaculture Resources. Aquaculture Feeds. Accessed June 2008.
17. SeaWeb Aquaculture Resources. Aquaculture Feeds. Accessed June 2008.
18. WWF, the World Conservation Organization. Aquaculture Problems: Exotic Escapees. 2008.
19. Weber, Michael L. What Price Farmed Fish: a review of the environmental & social costs of farming carnivorous fish. SeaWeb Aquaculture Clearinghouse. 2003.
20. FAO, “Regional Review on Aquaculture Development/ 7. North America – 2005.” 2005.
21. Calculations conducted by Food & Water Watch based on data from: “Fisheries of the United States 2007.” Office of Science and Technology, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, MD, July 2008. For methodologies, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that statistics listed here are based on 2007 data, which is the most current available in synthesized form from the NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology. The most up-to-ate statistics on U.S. aquaculture production, which are included in these calculations, are taken from the USDA 2006 census.
22. Summary of self-reported data on open cage net-fish farming Companies in Scotland (Raw Data Provided By Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Executive)
When seeking out various types of fish, it’s good to have some general knowledge about not only that particular species’ preferred habitat but also about its habits, food preferences, and lifestyle in general.
While it’s not common for humans to think about animals and fish having a “lifestyle”, the idea is quite important to determining the best tactics to use in hunting or fishing for a species. This is definitely true of certain types of catfish, especially flathead catfish. Fishing for catfish is a popular sport throughout the United States, but tactics for catching different types of catfish vary greatly.
For example, most catfish are considered to be opportunistic feeders. This means that they are literally scavengers, seeking out the easiest meals they can find. They’ll eat other hunters’ “leftovers” – pieces of dead fish and other bits and bobbles – to avoid having to hunt down food. They’ll survive off insects and invertebrates native to their waters, and they’ll even eat plants to satisfy their hunger.
However, flatheads are different, meaning that flathead catfish fishing requires a different approach.
Flatheads, which may also be referred to as mud cats, shovelhead cats, johnnie cats, yellow cats, Mississippi cats, and Opelousa cats, are not simply scavengers. While they would not turn down an opportunistic meal, they are predators and prefer to hunt down live fish.
They are also one of the largest breeds of catfish around, growing regularly to sizes of three or four feet in length and weighing up to 100 pounds. Therefore, unlike many smaller species of catfish, you’ll need heftier equipment and specialized bait to attract these monsters.
Flathead catfish fishing requires live bait. In fact, the live bait you use should be sizeable in order to attract the flatheads because they do not appreciate a small meal. While you can use invertebrates, like worms, you will have to stuff your hook with several night crawlers to increase your chances of drawing in a flathead.
More useful bait would consist of large minnows or small shad and carp, as these are typically included in their diet anyway. If you choose not to use live bait to attract a flathead catfish, fishing with stink bait is probably the only way to attract your catch. This works on occasion because catfish find food mostly based on smell rather than sight, and large chicken livers or other rotting stink bait foods will permeate the water and drawn in your prey.
A pond is not only a stunning garden feature but is also a wonderful wildlife habitat, attracting birds, insects and many other animals.
Building a pond from scratch can seem a daunting task however it need not be, having the correct equipment and understanding what form of pond will suit your needs is half the battle.
The first thing to consider when you build a pond is where it will be located, try to view where the pond will be from many different angles, try looking from an upstairs window also, use what ever you have to mark out a make believe pond so you can see it from different angles.
You need to consider the size of your pond, this will be affected by the size of your garden and what you are considering to have in the pond. A larger pond would be needed for larger fish such as koi carp where as a smaller pond would suit goldfish or if the pond was just for newts and frogs.
Once you have defined the parameter of the pond (this is often done with string or hosepipe) and you are happy with the size and positioning you will need to excavate the area. Dig out the turf and keep going until the required depth is achieved, remember to remove any sharp stones or large lumps of mud.
When digging the pond it is recommended that you leave one side with a slop so any animals that accidentally fall in have a way of getting out, it is also a place where you fish can bask in the sun.
Once you have dug the pond you will need to lay a base, if you decide to use concrete then you will need to add some sort of wire to it to bind it together and prevent it from cracking, sand is another option, lay a layer of sand around the hole you have dug, this will protect the pond liner and help to prevent it from being punctured.Adding a layer of old carpet adds to this protection.
Once the base has been laid you need to position your pond liner, this will require some help depending on the size of your pond. Ask a friend to help with this part, hold each end and lay over the hole you have dug out, take care not to damage the liner by dragging it over rough ground or sharp stones.
Once the liner is in place secure the sides with some bricks and most importantly leave plenty of overlap.
Once the liner is in place it is time to start to fill your pond, as the pond is being filled it is important to pull the edges of the liner so it fits neatly in the contours of the pond.
Keep adding water until the pond is full then cut away any excess liner leaving an overlap large enough to lay slabs or turf on to keep in place.
Stand back and have a look at what you have created!, Now you have the job of decided which fish and plants you will add and position around your new pond.
Article from: My Family UK
Sick fish can be harder to diagnose than other animals, but signs to look out for include unusual growths or spots on the fish, problems balancing, sticking to the bottom of the tank, lack of appetite or having trouble breathing.
Preventing illness in fish
Poor water conditions (temperature, pH and so on) will cause ill health in your fish, so do your research on the right tank conditions for particular species and clean the tank regularly.
Stress can also be a big factor in illness, so don’t overcrowd your tank or move fish unnecessarily. Quarantine new fish to make sure they haven’t got infectious diseases or parasites before introducing them to your tank or pond. Certain parasites can also attach to water plants and other tank decor so these need to be quarantined as well.
Below are some common signs of illness in fish, to keep an eye open for.
1) Oxygen starvation
Gulping at the surface of the water could indicate your fish don’t have enough oxygen to breathe. Oxygen level in the water can be improved by cleaning the tank or pond, adding plants, using a water pump and changing the water regularly.
2) Fungal disease
White strands like cotton wool on the body of your fish may indicate fungal disease. Treat with anti-fungus medication that can be added to the water.
Watch out for a brown thread trailing behind the fish. Prevent or treat the symptoms by varying the fish’s diet. Give them live food and vegetables alongside their usual dried food.
4) White spot disease
Caused by a parasite that penetrates the skin of the host fish. Watch out for white spots on the skin and gills about 1mm in diameter. Treat the whole aquarium with a chemical treatment as well as trying to improve the water quality of your tank.
5) Swim bladder inflammation (SBI)
This viral disease particularly affects carp, although it can affect other fish species. It affects the swim bladder of the fish and can cause a distended abdomen and an inability to balance. Consult a vet if you think your fish may be suffering from SBI.
For further information, and for more great ways to have fun with your family, log on to www.myfamilyuk.com. With a huge collection of articles covering everything from child safety to rainy day activities, you’ll find all the help, guidance and entertainment you need to be a great parent. Go to My Family UK now!