« March 2007 Table of Contents
Point of View: Future of sustainability relies on farmed fish
By John Connelly
March 01, 2007
Sustainability seems to be the latest catchphrase for the
seafood industry in 2007. Yet members of the National Fisheries
Institute are taking a closer look at the issue and are
debating what seafood sustainability is and what it means for
The World Commission on Environment and Development defines
sustainable development as ensuring "that [development methods]
meet the needs of the present without comprising the ability of
future generations to meet their own needs." For seafood, it
means catching enough fish to feed families now while
conserving enough for the future.
We're at a pivotal point to communicate with our customers
and the public about proper management of our oceans. One of
the first pieces of legislation to be signed into law this year
was the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA). Renewal of this bill was
long overdue and new provisions included in the law will help
strengthen the industry's best practices to ensure that ocean
resources will provide nutritious fish for our children and
Eight y percent of U.S. fisheries are sustainably managed.
And more than 98 percent of the top 10 seafood species that
Americans eat come from sources that fisheries scientists
report as fully sustainable. This year, NFI is honing in on
these stories to help dispel myths perpetuated by opponents of
the seafood industry.
For the domestic wild-capture industry to thrive,
aquaculture must be a growing part of the equation. Wild
fisheries alone cannot meet consumer demand for seafood. As a
result, we import a significant amount of seafood, both wild
and farmed. Currently, more than 70 percent of the seafood
Americans enjoy is imported and at least 40 percent of those
imports is farmed.
Farmed seafood takes pressure off of the world's fisheries.
Aquaculture meets the gap between what wild stocks can provide
sustainably and the growing demand for seafood.
The growth of fish farming is a means of producing healthy,
affordable and quality seafood for consumers worldwide. The
year 2005 was the first in which the U.S. Department of
Agriculture reported the value of U.S. aquaculture sales
exceeded $1 billion, and the promise for growth is exponential.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
estimates that global aquaculture production must double by
2050 to meet growing demand.
We've now come full circle back to seafood sustainability.
Just as in wild capture, fish-farming practices must be carried
out in a sustainable manner. NFI encourages companies selling
farm-raised products to demonstrate that their farms are
sustainable sources of a healthy protein that help retailers
and restaurants meet growing demand for seafood. By
demonstrating environmental stewardship as technology advances,
NFI believes its members can ensure healthy seafood products
will be available to future generations of consumers.
Be it wild or farmed, organic or conventional, our goal is
to provide healthy and sustainable seafood to families around
John Connelly is president of the National Fisheries
Institute in McLean, Va., at www.nfi.org