Myths about Aquaculture

Today, I picked up a few grocery items at the supermarket (I should mention I took notice of the Tilapia filets in the freezer section while shopping, which was a first), but when checking out, the issue arose I was back in college. I've known Pat for around 20 years, and she asks, "You're back in college?" "Yes," I replied, "I'm going there for Aquaculture." "Did you say Agriculture?," with a little bit of confusion. I laughed a bit, "Aqua culture. It's a little like Agriculture, except you farm fish." "So, when you finish, you're going to build a fish farm?" To which I replied, "No, actually I'm hoping to go on to UNCW for the Marine Science program."

So far, I've personally acquainted a small number of people, who either simply do not know what Aquaculture is, or perpetuating spreading myths about it. For instance, one lady I spoke with, told of a young girl attending the Aquaculture program, who "spent so much time in the water, she became sick of it, and had to change her major." This, simply is not true. I was also advised to get a diving suit.

I chuckle, and wonder what will I will hear next.

Not a myth: Far more alarming are the facts of big fish being fished out, dead zones in the oceans and seas from fertilizer run offs ... coral reefs dying, rain forests being cut down, levels of mercury in nature and other pollutants seeping into the ground water (even toxins in discarded electronic devices seeping into the ground water, and leaky Super Fund sites that will cost billions to clean up), none of which is in dispute. (Edward T. Babinski warning of fish, in shortage).

The growing Aquaculture industry may provide a sound mean to feed the world in the near future, without posing a threat to the environment.

Here's some information from the web, on further Aquaculture myths (which incidentally, seem to coincide with the warnings Dr. Holland has given our class at BCC) .. concerning the realities of success in Aquaculture. I will highlight those points:
In the course of working with hundreds of people interested in starting aquaculture enterprises, the author has arrived at two pieces of advice that he would like to pass along to you now:
1. Imitation, not innovation, is the key to success for beginning aquaculturists. A proven species and type of production facility is almost always the best choice. Few new fish farmers can afford the time or money needed for experimental systems.
2. Start small and learn as you grow. No matter how well you plan your aquaculture enterprise, you will learn a great deal during your first few years of operation. Starting small will allow you the flexibility to improve your facilities and time to develop your markets while minimizing your risk.

Some common myths about aquaculture

Fiction: Any fish or aquatic animal can be economically raised on a fish farm.
Fact: Most cannot be. Lack of control over reproduction and nutrition, make the farming of many desirable species impractical at present.

Fiction: I can find a site for a fish farm on my property.
Fact: Most sites are unsuited for fish farming because they lack adequate water or proper soils for pond construction.

Fiction: Fish farming is relatively easy.
Fact: Fish farming is agriculture and requires close management, hard work and the ability to tolerate risk.

Fiction: Fish farming is very profitable.
Fact: As in other types of agriculture, the level of profit is seldom excessive.

Fiction: Fish farming is a good retirement activity.
Fact: Runnning a fish farm requires hard physical work and can be stressful.

Fiction: Fishing is a good background for getting into fish farming.
Fact: Farming is the best background for getting into fish farming. Basic farming skills like operating a tractor, equipment repair, and welding are needed.
From: Getting Started in Aquaculture

Myth #1: Farmed salmon is not safe to eat.

Reality: Eating farmed salmon does not pose a health risk. Claims that eating farmed salmon can cause health risks such as cancer can unnecessarily frighten people and prevent them from enjoying the benefits of eating fish. Fish and seafood are an important part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Scientific studies indicate that trace amounts of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in both farmed and wild salmon are well within acceptable limits and similar to the amounts found throughout our food supply – in beef, chicken, pork and dairy products. PCBs and other contaminants are a legacy of industrial practices that find their way into the food chain in nearly all foods.

Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) work together to ensure that our food supply is safe. For example, the CFIA conducts rigorous inspections of fish processing establishments across Canada and they analyze food samples for impurities, drug residues or disease-causing agents. Health Canada sets standards and policies for the safety of food and veterinary drugs sold in Canada.

Myth #2: Farmed salmon is not as nutritious as wild salmon.
Myth #3: No one is supervising salmon farms.
Myth #4: Salmon farms are bad for the environment.
Myth #5: Left-over food and feces from salmon farms pollutes the ocean.
Myth #6: Farmed salmon are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics.

Reality: Farmed salmon are not fed or injected with growth hormones. Antibiotics, if they are required, are provided by veterinarians. Health Canada has clear rules about drug use on food animals. Maximum residue limits for each drug are set and must be met through appropriate withdrawal times following treatment before the fish can be harvested. The CFIA monitors fish at federal processing plants to ensure they do not exceed the levels set by Health Canada.

When compared to land-based farmed animal production, salmon farming uses the least amount of antibiotics. In recent years, advances in vaccine development, similar to the practice used for raising livestock, have resulted in a significant reduction of antibiotic use.

Myth #7: Farmed salmon are full of additives to make it look like wild fish.
Myth #8: Escaped, farmed salmon are killing wild salmon stocks.
Myth #9: Escaped Atlantic salmon have been mating with wild Pacific stocks.
Myth #10: Farmed salmon spread disease to wild salmon.
Myth #11: Sea lice from farmed salmon are destroying pink salmon stocks in BC.
Myth #12: Food fish are being taken away from wild stocks to feed farmed fish.
Myth #13: The Science on the aquaculture issue seems confusing.
Myth #14: DFO supports the development of "Frankenfish".
Myth #15: Only closed-containment or land-based systems should be used to farm salmon.
Myth #16: Salmon farming is a small-scale experiment and has no future in helping ensure a global source of protein or local jobs.
From Myths and Realities about Salmon Farming

Aquaculture has now become a significant competitor for space in coastal and freshwater areas. To be accepted, however, it must demonstrate convincingly that aquaculture will not jeopardize other legitimate uses of the coastal, brackish and freshwater zones through causing unacceptable changes to the environment. As the aquaculturists are among the first to suffer the consequences of environmental deterioration their concern for the environment should, of necessity, be equal to or greater than that of those wishing to preserve it for other reasons. It has been pointed out that there are many "truths and myths" concerning aquaculture and the environment. Selected examples will be used to show how particular environmental factors are involved and what have been the results, probable consequences or misconceptions. The conclusions and ultimate message is clear; aquaculture can be practised successfully and profitably without compromising the environment. For this result to be achieved, however, it is necessary for aquaculture to employ only sound farming practices which penalize neither the aquaculturist nor the environment.
From Aquaculture Canada 2000 Abstracts

Other Myths
Are you one of those people who believe that farmed fish are full of medicines, and that they are really a sort of second-class food? If so, you are quite wrong, and have been for many years. Now, scientists at the Institute of Marine Research want to put paid to some long-standing myths about conditions in Norwegian aquaculture.
by Ingrid Dreyer
Fish are healthy food, and fish farming involve good exploitation of resources in comparison with meat production in agriculture. Fish are also an extremely popular product in many parts of the world. However, many people have a negative impression about the quality of farmed fish.
“In blind tests in which people taste fish food, most people prefer farmed fish to wild fish. However, if they are told that what they are tasting is farmed fish, their opinion of its quality automatically falls”, says research director Ole J. Torrissen of the Institute of Marine Research. He has no doubt that such attitudes are a holdover from the early days of fish-farming in the eighties, when consumption of medicines was high, and environmental problems around fish farms were common. But even though several decades of research and development and the establishment of solid monitoring and management systems have got rid of most of the childhood problems of fish farming, the negative attitudes still persist.
Antibiotics scarcely used now
One of the most enduring myths is that farmed fish are full of medicines.
“Many people believe that Norwegian fish farming still uses high doses of antibiotics. But this is far from being true. Nowadays, fish farming is virtually free of antibiotics, while significant quantities of antibiotics are fed to cattle, pigs, dogs and cats in Norway”, says Oivind Bergh, leader of the Institute’s Fish Health and Disease research group.
“More antibiotics are used to treat mastitis in cattle - a very common disease in agriculture - than are fed to all Norwegian fish”, says Bergh.
According to the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, 5.75 tonnes of antibiotics were used in this country in 2000, 4.9 tonnes of which were administered to farm livestock and domestic pets. At the same time, the number of organisms in Norwegian aquaculture is much greater than the number of animals in agriculture. There are around 600 million farmed fish, as against somewhat fewer than 40 million chickens and a million each of sheep, pigs and cattle. Prescriptions of antibiotics for the medical treatment of 4.5 million Norwegians come to between eight and ten times as much as the total amount fed to animals.
All the same, Bergh does not attempt to hide the fact that the introduction of new farmed species creates new challenges.
“The scallop farming industry had problems for a long time, but in the course of the past few years, new methods of cultivation have completely eliminated the use of antibiotics in this species as well. However, a certain increase in the use of antibiotics in cod farming has been observed. If this is to become a major industry, new methods will have to be developed to put a stop to this trend”, says Bergh, who points out that disease-free farmed species have not emerged without cost, and that major resources still need to be put into implementing control measures for all species.
Environmental toxins in farmed fish?
This spring, an article in the journal Science about environmental toxins in farmed fish aroused great deal of international attention. The article claimed that farmed salmon contain such high levels of toxins that it was inadvisable to eat farmed salmon more than once a month.
“The authors based this conclusion on the controversial model that they used for their assessment of health risk”, says seafood researcher Marc Berntssen at Norway’s National Institute for Nutritional and Seafood Research (NIFES). According to internationally recognised risk models (WHO and the EU) it is quite safe to eat salmon several times a month.
“Farmed salmon contain important nutrients, and the problem is largely that we do not eat enough fatty fish. Like the food authorities in other countries, NIFES recommends eating at least two portions of fish a week, one of which can well be fatty fish such as salmon”, says Berntssen.
From Putting Paid to myths about farmed fish, Institute of Marine Research

Myths and Legends of Aquaculture exploded!
It is important that Irish consumers are told the truth about the food that they eat. All too often though, they are misled by glib phrases and sound bytes that make for exciting journalism but do not give the true facts.
Aquaculture products in general and farmed Atlantic salmon in particular have been the subject of more than their fair share of this sort of sensationalist treatment.

To set the record straight BIM have provided the follow articles as a service to Irish fish consumers. The articles tell the consumer what they need to know so that they can make healthy eating choices for themselves and their families. Further Articles will be added through out 2007.

Aquaculture Myth Busters
Myth one: “Farmed Salmon is full of dyes!”

Myth two: "Fish in salmon farms are kept in the equivalent of a bathtub full of water"
From Myths and Legends of Aquaculture

Fish Food, Books, Aquaculture and more!
Many myths and fallacies concerning nutrition and feeding of fish are often regurgitated over and over again until it "almost" becomes a fact.

Aquaculture Links
Challenging the myths and misinformation surrounding Aquaculture.

More Stories on Google

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