Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Seafood sustainability measured in anchovy equivalents

There's a new battle that may change how you view seafood sustainability. Is it possible that the best and highest use of anchovies is feeding farmed fish? Maybe.

Kona Blue and Food & Water Watch are slugging it out over the sustainability of kona kampachi, thanks to a new analysis that says farmed fish are more sustainable than wild-caught fish.

Author Neil Sims of Kona Blue is sticking his neck out with this analysis, but that's nothing new. As a fish-farming entrepreneur with green credibility, he's successfully working what some think is an impossible divide. Now he's challenging critics and trying to undermine what he calls the "widely-promoted misconception that eating wild-caught fish is better for the oceans than eating farmed seafood."

Sims estimates that "on a global basis, sustainably farmed fish may represent around 60 times more efficient use of anchovy and other baitfish resources than wild fish." As a result, he asserts that "fish farming is a better and higher use of these resources than reliance on commercial exploitation of wild predatory fish species."

On the other side of the battle is Food & Water Watch, the consumer organization that challenged the "good alternative" rating given to kona kampachi by the Monterey Aquarium's Seafood Watch. Part of their mission is to "challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water" and they advise seafood consumers to "in general, choose wild-caught" over farmed fish. Not surprisingly, they're not impressed with Sims' analysis.

Sims makes some good points in his defense of farming predatory fish. If we're going to eat predatory fish, then it's worth thinking about the "anchovy equivalents" that go into farmed fish vs. wild-caught fish.

Also posted at SeafoodSource.com under "blogs"

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