Farm fishing practices not sustainable

Re: “Fish smart, eat happy now” (March 27). Despite your optimistic column on the future of aquaculture, the industry still has a long way to go to provide guiltless seafood eating. Current aquaculture practices threaten the sustainability of the marine food chain and are a potential source of drug resistance to the people who eat them.

As mentioned in the column, most of the currently farmed fish are carnivorous species; their diet is largely made up of other fish species. It is estimated that it takes, by weight, between two to five pounds of wild fish to produce one pound of farmed fish. If you do the math, this isn’t sustainable.

In addition, aquaculture is essentially factory farming of fish, with many of same unhealthy aspects. The risk of disease always occurs when a large number of one species is crowded into a small space. Precautionary control with drugs is a reality to ensure a return on the investment. With growing concern over antibiotic resistance due to eating factory farmed meat in this country, adding farmed fish to the list is hardly taking a step in the right direction.

The reasons detailed above are in addition to aquaculture’s poor record in many areas, such as habitat destruction, pollution and genetic and disease contamination of wild fish stocks. I urge readers to obtain a more balanced view of the industry from marine conservation organizations like SeaWeb.

Martha Smith

March 27

The writer is the Program Director for the Center for Coastal and Watershed Systems at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.