Posts Tagged ‘Fish’


Nourishing the Planet TV: Aqua Shops

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In this week’s episode, Nourishing the Planet discusses FARM-Africa’s aquacultural initiative in western Kenya, which has established an Aqua Shop franchise that provides farmers with technical advice about aquaculture practices and give them the necessary materials to set up and maintain healthy fish ponds.


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Aquaculture Feeding World’s Insatiable Appetite for Seafood

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By Danielle Nierenberg and Katie Spoden

Total global fish production, including both wild capture fish and aquaculture, reached an all-time high of 154 million tons in 2011, and aquaculture is set to top 60 percent of production by 2020, according to new research conducted for Worldwatch’s Vital Signs Online service. Wild capture was 90.4 million tons in 2011, up 2 percent from 2010. Aquaculture, in contrast, has been expanding steadily for the last 25 years and saw a rise of 6.2 percent in 2011.

The global demand for farmed fish is increasing (Photo Credit: Vera Kratochvil)

Growth in fish farming can be a double-edged sword, however. Despite its potential to affordably feed an ever-growing global population, it can also contribute to problems of habitat destruction, waste disposal, invasions of exotic species and pathogens, and depletion of wild fish stock.

Humans ate 130.8 million tons of fish in 2011. The remaining 23.2 million tons of fish went to non-food uses such as fishmeal, fish oil, culture, bait, and pharmaceuticals. The human consumption figure has increased 14.4 percent over the last five years. And consumption of farmed fish has risen tenfold since 1970, at an annual average of 6.6 percent per year. Asia consumes two thirds of the fish caught or grown for consumption.



Innovation of the Week: Aqua Shops

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By Eleanor Fausold

Aquaculture has potential to stimulate economic growth and increase food production in Kenya. (Photo credit: Lilian Kamola Kaivilu)

In Western Kenya, where nearly 60 percent of households depend on fish as a source of income, dwindling fish supplies are hurting the economy and those who rely on fish as a source of food. Lake Victoria currently provides over 90 percent of Kenya’s fish supply, but a combination of overfishing and pollution have led to a decline in fish stocks, causing prices to rise because supply is not keeping up with demand.

As a solution, Kenya’s government is supporting the development of aquaculture in an effort to promote economic growth and stimulate food production. In addition to providing basic infrastructure and supporting research and development, the government is also providing funding for the construction of 46,000 fish ponds in 160 of the country’s 210 constituencies and has given farmers catfish and tilapia fingerlings, or very young fish, and fish feed to help get them started. Despite these governmental efforts, however, many farmers still lack access to the support and inputs required for long-term success.

In an effort to supplement and further the Kenyan government’s initiatives, FARM-Africa, in partnership with Natural Resources International, the University of Stirling, Imani Development, the U.K. Department for International Development Research Into Use Programme, and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, has established a series of six Aqua Shops in western Kenya. These shops provide farmers with technical advice about aquaculture practices and give them the materials, including fish feed and manure (for fertilization), needed to set up and maintain healthy fish ponds and lakes.



Five Fish that are Sustainable and (Almost) Guilt-free

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By Isaac Hopkins

According to a 2010 Food and Agriculture Organization report, 33 percent of the world’s fisheries are over-exploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion, and another 52 percent are fully exploited. As more fish stocks fail under the pressure, many fisherpeople, fishery managers, and policymakers are focusing on making fishing more sustainable, using methods that have proven effective at restoring both quantity and quality in depleted fisheries.

Fish market outside Banjul in The Gambia. Fish is a crucial food for billions of people, but many fish stocks are threatened due to overfishing. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Just as importantly, consumers should be conscious of the dietary and ecological impacts of the seafood that they eat. Resources like the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a National Geographic Seafood Guide, designed by Barton Seaver, make it easier than ever for seafood lovers to choose fish that are healthy for people and for the planet.

Today, Nourishing the Planet introduces five fisheries that have benefited from sustainable management and are improving the outlook for fisherfolk and ecosystems.

1. Mackerel: Mackerel is a broad term that can refer to more than thirty species of moderate-sized fish that are abundant in temperate and tropical oceans around the world. Their flesh is generally oily and high in fat, and they are prized not just by fishermen, but also by many larger fish, as well as dolphins and whales.

Mackerel in Action: Canada’s Atlantic Mackerel fisheries and the King Mackerel and Spanish Mackerel fisheries are rated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a “best choice,” because they are well-managed and sustainable. Mackerel reproduce quickly, which helps them withstand fishing pressures, and most fisheries, especially in the Atlantic, are regulated by enforcement agencies of each country and rely on sustainable fishing methods. The purse seines and midwater trawls used in these fisheries cause minimal bycatch (fish of the wrong species that are accidentally caught and simply thrown out, often dead or dying) or damage to the environment by dragging trawls along the ocean bottom. Because of Mackerel’s abundance, it is available year-round.



What Works: Aquaculture

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By Caitlin Aylward

This post is part of a series where Nourishing the Planet asks its readers: What works? Every week we’ll ask the question and every week you can join the conversation!

Aquaculture can be an effective means of feeding our planet and encouraging economic development. (Photo credit: Burt Lum)

As world population and incomes increase, so has the demand for fish and seafood. As of 2009, the world’s total fish production from fish caught in the wild and aquaculture reached an all time high of 145.1 million tons, a number that is only growing.

But aquaculture can be a way of procuring seafood that not only protects wild fish species and the environment, but also helps alleviate global poverty and food insecurity.

Aquaculture, in contrast with commercial fishing of wild fish, is the cultivation of fish and other aquatic life under controlled marine or freshwater environments.

According to the FAO, aquaculture is the world’s fastest-growing source of animal protein, providing around half of the world’s fish supplies. From the years 2000 to 2008 alone, fish production from aquaculture has grown more than 60 percent, from 32.4 million tons to 52.5 million tons annually.



On the Frontlines: An Interview with Peter Hammerstedt

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By Marlena White

Name: Peter Hammerstedt

Affiliation: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Bio: Peter Hammerstedt is a regular cast member of Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars,” which covers the anti-whaling efforts of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. He will also appear on “Whale Wars: Viking Shores,” premiering Friday, April 27, at 9:00 PM (ET). The series will focus on Operation Ferocious Isles, the Sea Shepherd’s campaign against whaling in the Faroe Islands of the North Atlantic. Peter is passionate about animal rights and has often put himself in harm’s way to protect them. When he is not working on Sea Shepherd campaigns, he is pursuing a degree in Media and Communications at Stockholm University and actively campaigning with the Swedish Animal Rights Alliance.

Peter Hammarstedt can be seen on Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars: On Viking Shores.” (Photo credit: Animal Planet)

How did the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society become involved with whaling in the Faroe Islands?

Sea Shepherd has a long history of both bringing attention to and intervening in the pilot whale slaughter on the Faroe Islands, known as “The Grind.” Captain Paul Watson launched two ship-based campaigns to oppose the hunt in 1985 and 1986 and again in 2000. On all three occasions, no pilot whales were killed while Sea Shepherd patrolled the islands. In 1986, Sea Shepherd brought a film team from the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) to the Faroe Islands in order to capture the cruelty of the hunt, resulting in the award-winning documentary Black Harvest. The film captures a dramatic confrontation of when a Faroese gunboat pursues the Sea Shepherd’s vessel and attacks them with tear gas, in an unsuccessful attempt to seize the ship and arrest the crew.



Protecting Bristol Bay’s Fisheries

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By Eun Jae Park

The Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP), a consortium of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. of Canada and Anglo-American plc of the UK, has claimed exclusive rights to begin mineral mining in Bristol Bay, Alaska. An estimated 36.6 billion kilograms (80.6 billion pounds) of copper, 2.5 billion kilograms (5.6 billion pounds) of molybdenum, and 3.0 million kilograms (107.4 million ounces) of gold have been discovered in this region, just northwest of the Alaskan Peninsula. With state approval, open pit mining and construction for a waste rock dump site, an artificial lake that stores excess mined rock, could feasibly begin as early as late 2012 and persist for 25 to 35 years.

"We love our fish!" says Ina Bouker, a Yupik native and teacher from Dillingham who opposes the mine. (Photo credit: National Geographic)

The proposed 51.8 square kilometers (20 square miles) mine site is located between the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers, two of eight major rivers feeding into Bristol Bay. The potential 10 billion tons of waste rock could pose a significant threat to the pristine waterways, fish populations, and wildlife. Although PLP has proposed the construction of an artificial lake to act as a dump for the waste material, over 25.9 square kilometers (10 square miles) of land will be flooded behind 183 meter (600 feet) high earthen dams in this active earthquake zone.

This project has been met with tremendous opposition from fishermen, conservation activists, native groups, seafood restaurant owners, chefs, nature guides, scientists, cabin managers, and local residents. PLP has recently published a comprehensive 27,000 page report on the environmental and social conditions in Bristol Bay, but it has been dismissed by critics because of the subjective nature of the data and the lack of a clear development strategy and project description.



Five Sustainable Innovations in Aquaculture

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By Laura Reynolds

Aquaculture, or the rearing of fish in captivity, is the world’s fastest-growing protein-producing activity, with nearly 50 percent of all seafood being farmed rather than caught in wild fisheries. This rapid growth has provoked questions of sustainability in the global aquaculture industry, including how to handle the massive amounts of salt water being imported inland for fish farms. While researchers warn of dangerous overfishing and decline in the world’s wild fish population, aquaculture stands as a potentially sustainable alternative, and recent innovations promise to enhance the efficiency, safety, and sustainability of aquaculture while improving the lives of its fish farmers.

Fish farms like this one in Cote D’Ivoire can offer sustainable alternatives to fishing in the wild. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Today, Nourishing the Planet examines five innovations that are improving the sustainability of aquaculture around the world.

1. Integrating rice-and-fish farming: In many parts of Asia, rice farming provides a major source of income. Rice paddies and fish have long coexisted incidentally, since many fish species find their way into flooded rice fields and actually prefer the fields for reproduction and habitation. But, recently farmers have intentionally imported fish into their rice fields. The advantages of integrated rice-fish farming include a more productive and nutrient-rich rice crop, because fish increase the availability of phosphorous and nitrogen in soils; a reduction in disease-carrying aquatic weeds and algae, which compete with rice for nutrients but are a favored food among fish; and an extra source of income for farmers who can find markets for their fish.

Rice-fish farming in action: In Bangladesh, where approximately 80 percent of its total cultivable land is devoted to rice farming, two researchers from Charles Darwin University in Australia studied the benefits of integrating fish into rice cultivation in 2010. They found that for aman, the most popularly raised rice variety in Bangladesh, the yield was 12 percent higher in integrated systems than in rice monocultures, and fertilizer and pesticide inputs were reduced. In addition, another researcher from Shimane University in Japan found that rice-fish farmers had 5–11 percent higher revenue than farmers of rice monocultures.



Nourishing the Planet TV: Taking Farming to the Sea

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In this week’s episode, Nourishing the Planet discusses farming seaweed, an environmentally friendly crop that holds promise of mitigating greenhouse gases while supplementing incomes, providing dietary protein, and offering a sustainable source of biofuel.


To read more about seaweed farming, see: Innovation of the Week: Climate Smart Seaweed Farming.

Holiday offer: To purchase a copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet at a 50 percent discountplease click HERE and enter code SW1150. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


Creating a sustainable world: An interview with Barton Seaver

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By Jadda Miller

National Geographic fellow, author and chef, Barton Seaver has dedicated his career to restoring the relationship we have with our ocean. It is his belief that the choices we are making for dinner are directly impacting the ocean and its fragile ecosystems. He promotes sustainability, wellness, and community as they relate to food.

Photo credit:

He sits on the board of the hunger-fighting organization D.C. Central Kitchen. He also has collaborations with the School Nutrition Association, the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. They help promote a wider understanding of the human health consequences of global environmental change.

Seaver became a National Geographic fellow in 2010, working with the global partnership initiative Mission Blue. He developed a list of ocean friendly substitutes for popular yet depleted seafood species, and co-created the Seafood Decision Guide for consumers which evaluates seafood based on health and environmental factors.

His first book, For Cod and Country: Simple, Delicious, Sustainable Cooking is a cookbook of seasonal, environmentally responsible seafood and vegetable recipes.

Why do you feel it is important to use underutilized and more sustainable fish species in your cooking?

Because, we have commoditized our seafood preferences and ecosystems don’t work that way. We demand our preferences instead of asking a fish monger or local fisherman, what is freshest? What is local? In Europe people go to the docks to buy their seafood, they have a totally different idea of the meaning, “grocery shopping”.