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Editor's Note: Consider the source

Fiona Robinson, Associate Publisher/Editor
Fiona Robinson, Associate Publisher/Editor
September 05, 2011

The recommendation given to student journalists trying to determine the credibility of information has always been “consider the source.” While professional reporters live by this credo every day, the saying is not typically heeded by consumers, especially when confronted with a negative story about seafood.

In many cases, the voice that screams the loudest is the only one heard, and eventually the consumer forgets what the original source was. A good example of this has been seen following announcements made about aquaculture developments in the United States, a story examined in this issue’s Top Story, Farm Futures (this issue), written by Associate Editor James Wright. One anti-aquaculture source, Food & Water Watch (FWW), describes open-ocean aquaculture as “industrialized.” This terminology is used to make consumers believe that fish farms are akin to large land-based poultry, hog or beef operations that have provided startling revelations including inhumane living conditions.

But for anyone who has been to a U.S. fish farm, either on land or at sea, “industrialized” is the last word one would use. The only industrial-type element would be the steel used to create the tanks or pen frames. Most farms are not far beyond the experimental phase, like research labs that are constantly tested and monitored by local, state and federal regulators.

This tactic of painting fish farms with a broad brushstroke of “industrialism” has left many consumers with the misperception that aquaculture will destroy our oceans, similar to how large corporate animal farms have sullied once-fertile farm lands. That message has been carefully placed by FWW and then repeated over and over again by celebrity chefs, many who have not even visited a fish farm to do their own research.

Is FWW trying to create a world of vegan consumers? Quite possibly. It’s up to you, the educated seafood buyer, to consider the source and stay educated on aquaculture.

September 2011 - SeaFood Business 

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