« March 2005 Table of Contents
Editor's Note: Fish farms can't get a break
March 01, 2005
Retailers and restaurants rely heavily on farmed fish to plan their menus and fill their display cases. Buyers like the consistent, predictable nature of the product, and consumers like the steady prices. Some estimates have aquaculture supplying more than 75 percent of the U.S. seafood supply.
But every week I’m blanketed with news stories or “reports” claiming farmed seafood is endangering the lives of innocent consumers.
Outfits such as Public Citizen are spinning old information to push their anti-farmed-seafood agenda. If the group actually was supporting the public and giving consumers accurate information, why would it write a letter to the editor of the Washington Post (Feb. 1, 2005) that contains sentence after sentence of inaccuracies about the shrimp-farming industry, including that the oceans are being depleted to raise farmed shrimp?
SeaFood Business has devoted this issue’s FAQ to answering misinformation about farmed shrimp [See page 32 this issue]. Public Citizen has been on a witch hunt against farmed shrimp since last April, when it launched its official campaign against the crustacean. The scare tactics this group is using to get consumers to stop eating seafood are appalling.
Many scientists in the aquaculture field are studying feed ratios, recirculating systems and a host of other aquaculture topics to make the industry more sustainable. Some aquaculture operations have reportedly reached that goal and are even marketing their product as organic, which implies sustainability.
The latest Public Citizen commentary brings up an ongoing problem within the aquaculture industry, which is not a lack of scientific research, but a lack of marketing. Who answers the unchallenged claims about aquaculture that groups such as Public Citizen make on a weekly basis? Salmon of the Americas can only answer the reports that bash farmed salmon; it doesn’t answer for any other farmed species — not for shrimp or tilapia or mussels or oysters.
The aquaculture industry can only hope it will get support from the National Fisheries Institute under John Connelly’s strategic plan for the organization [See Top Story, page 1]. Currently, no other organization with political clout is refuting these claims, including the National Aquaculture Association, and this is support that fish farmers need.
It’s high time someone stepped up to the plate to defend the aquaculture industry, whether it be an industry association or individual company. Buyers can only hope that as a member of the press, I receive an inordinate amount of junk information, and that the consumer isn’t hearing all the anti-seafood messages being distributed. But that’s wishful thinking.