Will Fish Farming Harm Natural Habitats?

Jess KContributor IIIMarch 20, 2012

During the last couple of years there has been a lot of discussion regarding fish farming and how much damage they do to the ecosystem of the ocean. Some studies indicate that they do a great deal of harm, while others show that the harm, if any, is minimal. Reports that contradict each other make it difficult for the average angler to make useful conclusions; however, here are some of the issues and what has been discussed.

Fish farms are designed to raise the largest number of fish in the smallest area of water. The purpose of farming fish is to reduce the fishing pressure on the most popular species of fish. When the numbers of fish drop during the excessive pressure, fishing regulations respond by lowering the limits. This makes the prices rise and overall the consumer is unhappy.

The problem with fish farming is that the uneaten food and feces drop out of the pens and collect at the bottom of the ocean.  Because the fish farms are located in coastal waters, this pollutes beaches or shores. The waste even travels further out into the ocean and effects deep sea fishing. It appears that the waste particles stay together in large plumes instead of dissipating throughout the ocean.

The ocean has its own natural way of handling waste that accumulates on the bottom.  Certain species of fish and bacteria will eat the naturally occurring waste and recycle it into the ecosystem. However, these organisms aren’t able to keep up with the volume of waste created by the fish farms.

It has been suggested, that if the number of fish in the farms was reduced and there was a resting period between crops, that the ocean could accommodate fish farms, in other words, moderation in all things. 

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