Aquacultures were once considered the solution to a man-made problem. However, they have long since become a part of the problem: the overfishing of lakes and seas. By breeding freshwater and saltwater fish in aquacultures in ponds, rivers, along coasts, and in seas, the aim was to revive decimated wild fish populations without humans needing to forgo fish as a healthy nutritional source. But, due to the enormous and consistently increasing demand for fish and seafood worldwide, aquacultures have quickly mutated into industrially-operated fish farms, a kind of factory farming underwater – with disastrous consequences.
Wastewater from the aquacultures polluted with chemicals and antibiotics is directed into seas and rivers. Even more absurd, however, is the fact that overfishing has by no means been stopped. It has merely been shifted one step further along the food chain. To breed one ton of farmed fish, roughly 2.5 tons of wild fish, that is small fish, are needed.
“We are currently seeing an increase and expansion of aquacultures worldwide. These produce 170 million tons of fish annually and thus have significantly exceeded the amount of fish caught in the wild (90 million tons annually). The resulting need for small fish is tremendous. Yet, in the meantime, the production of fishmeal and fish oil has stagnated because fisheries have been fished dry. The price for a ton of fish oil has consequently doubled in the past ten years. Depending on the quality, it can cost USD 200 or more per ton,” states Junne.