« February 2014 Table of Contents
Editor's Note: Preventive measures
By Fiona Robinson
February 28, 2014
I’ve spent almost two decades restraining an eye-rolling reply to industry outsiders who immediately dismiss all farmed seafood products as bad. There are many consumers and industry professionals alike who have read outdated NGO reports about the environmental effects of fish farming, which many years ago painted the entire aquaculture industry from Maine to Mumbai with a label of environmental destruction. Whether true or not, the global industry has had to individually educate customers about what the industry is — and isn’t — doing for farming practices.
While some of the anti-fish farm tide has receded, there are a few topics that continue to plague the aquaculture industry, including antibiotic use. Senior Editor James Wright investigated the topic in this issue’s Top Story on page 28, Prescription for Success. What he discovered was that the aquaculture industry’s track record with antibiotic use isn’t all negative. For the most part, veterinary drugs are used as a preventative measure, but not all of that use is responsible. If you buy or sell farmed fish, you’ll want to read this story.
Another preemptive measure, this one related to aquaculture trade, is discussed in this issue’s Top Species feature on catfish on page 34. Despite a prolonged lobbying effort against it, the domestic catfish industry won its plan to move inspections from the Food and Drug Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Included in the passage of the nearly trillion-dollar Farm Bill was the direction for the USDA to finalize its catfish inspection program. This means catfish imports overseas will have to implement USDA standards, develop new inspection programs and submit to re-inspection at U.S. ports, among other changes.
This was a move by the domestic lobby to curtail the imports of frozen catfish from Asia, which most certainly will be diverted to other markets. Will the industry benefit from increased prices and a potential drop in catfish consumption? Time will tell.