You Should Know What They’re Eating Down on the Fish Farm

WELLNESS--For the past half-century we have been treating our oceans much like we have been treating our rainforests. Fishing has destroyed the natural habitat of the oceans and we have depleted roughly 50% of the ocean of its fish. With fish like swordfish and tuna that number is closer to 90% that have been depleted with a risk of complete collapse. 

Farm raised fish or aquaculture has been exploding in popularity over the past decade, and while it may be helpful in certain aspects to the health and sustainability of our oceans, it does have its own drawbacks. The fish in these fish farms need to eat, and what some of these farm raised fish eat may not please the savvy eater. The fish feed can be anything from chickens to wild caught fish. Very often fish farms are using wild caught fish and lots of it to feed their farm raised fish like salmon. Aren’t we buying farm-raised fish in order to stop all of the over-fishing, and doesn’t feeding farm raised fish with wild caught fish defeat the purpose all together? 

Certain fish have been hit harder than others. Tuna is one of the only fish, along with sharks, that has the ability to warm its muscles when swimming fast to go after its prey. Tuna can swim up to 40 miles an hour and they often live to be about 50 years old. In order for tuna to be healthy, and delicious for that matter, it needs open water to swim. It also needs 15 pounds of food to eat for every pound of tuna making it less than sustainable when it comes to farm fishing. Tuna is also a big fish and a predator meaning it is eating other smaller fish as it’s growing and maturing to a sometimes 15 feet long and 1500 pound fish that needs a lot of smaller fish to grow. Many of these small fish that the large tuna are eating contain mercury and the larger and older the tuna gets the more mercury it contains. 

Swordfish have also been hit hard and is a large fish that also that can measure 14 feet and 1400 pounds at full maturity. Both of these fish when caught in the wild are delicious which is part of the reason they have been pillaged from the sea by 90%. More and more companies are now using poles to catch and sell these fish and “pole-caught” tuna and swordfish is definitely a more sustainable choice. Whether or not these fish will be able to make a comeback without international support by outlawing net caught tuna is yet to be seen. 

Know that the most overfished fish are tuna, swordfish, shrimp, monkfish and sharks. Like cattle, not all farms are created equal. When you buy fish at the market ask them where the fish is coming from. If it is farm raised ask where the farm is located and what they are feeding the fish. Are the fish eating chicken pellets or unsustainable wild caught fish? As the consumers, we have the power to change the food supply system because every time we spend a dollar we are voting for what we believe in. Good food and good fish are not cheap, but isn’t it more costly over time to destroy the oceans just so we can buy cheap fish? We used to just buy meat at the best price possible. Now, more and more people have realized that if we are not part of the solution then we are part of the problem so they are shopping and buying more consciously. 

Generally speaking fish need about 1.5 kilos of food to create 1 kilo of fish making fish a much more efficient food for farming. Cattle on the other hand need about 10 kilos of feed to create 1 kilo of meat. Eventually the fish market will be sustained by aquaponics, which is a closed self-sustaining system that feeds and cleans itself. This already exists in certain places and is quickly picking up steam. The powers that be will only make changes when we spend our money on fish and all food decisively and intentionally.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)