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Point of View: Get straight answers on aquaculture

Dave Conley
By Dave Conley
November 05, 2011

I read with interest Fiona Robinson’s Editor’s Note of September 2011 [Consider the Source], and more specifically the paragraph that included this comment: “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 [Food & Water Watch] and then repeated over and over again by celebrity chefs, many who have not even visited a fish farm to do their own research.”

My firm, the Aquaculture Communications Group, would be more than pleased to organize tours for anyone to come out and see what goes on in today’s modern fish and shellfish farms so that they can ask questions and get straight answers from the people who work in this industry on a daily basis. (Unfortunately we cannot do this for free.)

Despite what all the critics have to say about aquaculture in America and elsewhere, not one of them works in this industry, so as far as I am concerned they don’t know what they are talking about. Whatever information (and misinformation) they possess is second- and third-hand hearsay.

Just as most people with a medical problem would not consult somebody who just watches every medical show on TV but go to a licensed doctor, consumers should not consult groups (environmental non-governmental organizations) that just watch aquaculture on the TV, or now the Web, but go to professionals who work in the aquaculture field.

I am tired of the inordinate amount of attention that the media and politicians give to environmental activists in the United States. Yes, they have a lot of money and can buy a lot of advertising and fund public-education campaigns, but that does not mean that they are telling the truth. Never equate truth with those with the ability to shout the loudest (read: manipulate the media).

FACT: Aquaculture is growing everywhere else in the world except North America. Even Africa is now promoting aquaculture as a means to provide food security and alleviate poverty.

FACT: The human population is growing every day. In May 2011, the United Nations increased the medium variant population projections to 9.3 billion for 2050 and 10.1 billion for 2100.

FACT: Aquaculture is a more efficient way of producing animal protein for increasing urban populations — as discussed in the report, Blue Frontiers: Managing the Environmental Costs of Aquaculture, by the WorldFish Center and Conservation International (2011).

The tide of history is washing over those opposed to aquaculture development in the United States. One day we will all look back and ask “What was all that fuss about?” as we lift another fork of farmed fish (or shellfish, or other seafood) to our mouths.


Dave Conley, M.S.C., is senior consultant and founding partner of The Aquaculture Communications Group, LLC, and executive director, Aquaculture Without Frontiers, www.aquaculturewithoutfrontiers.org 
Two years ago we added the Going Green column to our regular feature coverage.


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