Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
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  • Interesting history - thank you. Unfortunately, open pen fish farms on the British Columbia coast are threatening the wild salmon - closed containment on land would be much better. It is important to protect the wild fish which are also a much healthier choice for human consumption. To say nothing of the ecosystem.

    Posted by Hilarie McMurray on Fri 12 Aug 2011

  • Hilarie, you are correct that fish farms in the open ocean pose potential threats to the local ecosystem. Some farmers could pack as many fish into a pen as possible in hopes of increasing their yield and profits, but which creates an environment where disease runs rampant and could easily have a negative affect on the wild species in the area. Those short-sighted farmers could pump their "scaly flocks" – I love that historical reference to farmed fish – full of antibiotics to combat the disease. This also has its negative consequences.

    But I describe this short-sighted fish farmer to juxtapose him or her with the far-sighted open ocean fish farmer who genuinely strive to farm fish in a sustainable matter that does as little harm as possible to the local ecosystem – I've met a few who fit this description. They are out there. Stocking pens at a very low density is a natural way to mitigate the threat of disease. Experiments with farming different varieties of seafood on the same farm – for instance, having rope-grown mussels hanging around fish pens – have potential to mitigate pollution in the local waters. These, and other practices, are being tested to make fish farming more sustainable.

    Land-based fish farms using recirculating systems are also definitely a good option that will continue to be explored for its obvious benefits – among those being a farmer's ability to control what enters and exits the system. However, at the moment, there are still challenges for that system, such as the large amount of energy it takes to run all the pumps and necessary infrastructure a recirculating system needs.

    My point is, I think it is short-sighted to hobble the domestic aquaculture industry by disallowing ocean-based fish farming while fish farmers attempt to make their industry more sustainable. As in any agriculture business, there are sustainable ways to do it and unsustainable ways to do it.

    Posted by Whit Richardson on Mon 15 Aug 2011

  • Nice story, but I think you missed the boat on carp. You said: "Carp, though no longer as popular as a food fish," while carp remains the most important food fish in the world. People worldwide consume more carp than any other fish! Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18xyR8KWrgE

    Posted by Mark Powell on Thu 17 Oct 2013

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Whit Richardson is a writer and journalist who lives on the coast of Maine. He has written for National Geographic Traveler and Down East magazines, as well as produced radio work for NPR's All Things Considered and NHPR's Word of Mouth. He also blogs at www.thenewaquaculture.com.
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Lewis H. Lapham is Editor of Lapham's Quarterly. He also serves as editor emeritus and national correspondent for Harper's magazine.
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