Supplies of wild fish from rivers and oceans around the globe are dwindling, even as the demand for fish worldwide is growing. Aquaculture, or fish farming, is fast becoming the most convenient way for consumers to get fish. But, as Jan Sluizer reports, aquaculture is a new frontier in the modern world, fraught with promise and with challenges.
Scientists, researchers, environmentalists, and fishermen are all in agreement with Corey Peet, an aquaculture research analyst at California's Monterey Bay Aquarium. There is a global fisheries crisis and if current practices continue, wild fish will be completely gone from the oceans in 40 years. "Seventy to 80 percent of fisheries are fished to capacity or over-exploited," he explains, "and one strategy to try to mitigate this problem is to grow the fish ourselves."
Tim O'Shea's farmed fish comes from Mexico, Belize and Scotland. The San Francisco-based fish broker sells to local restaurants and markets. Believing that the key to successful fish farming is water quality and fish density, O'Shea has a face-to-face relationship with all his farmers, and insists on walking through each fish farm to get a personal understanding of the practices employed. "How is it harvested? How is it processed?"
O'Shea says a good fish farmer must know and pay attention to the whole life cycle of a fish. "The illness of animals being grown in domestic cases is all about monitoring stress, by and large," he explains, "and so you're really attentive to mimicking natural patterns as much as you possibly can. That's what makes a good farmer; one who really looks to and thinks about what would this fish be doing naturally in its normal cycle? How can I duplicate that as well as I possibly can?" He says all these factors relate directly to the quality and value of what consumers get on their plate when they walk into a restaurant or a market.
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