Floating pig farms
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Dec 9 06:57:18 MST 2002
LA Times, December 9, 2002
Fish Farms Become Feedlots of the Sea
Like cattle pens, the salmon operations bring product to market cheaply.
But harm to ocean life and possibly human health has experts worried.
By Kenneth R. Weiss, Times Staff Writer
PORT McNEILL, Canada -- If you bought a salmon filet in the supermarket
recently or ordered one in a restaurant, chances are it was born in a
plastic tray here, or a place just like it.
Instead of streaking through the ocean or leaping up rocky streams, it
spent three years like a marine couch potato, circling lazily in pens,
fattening up on pellets of salmon chow.
It was vaccinated as a small fry to survive the diseases that race
through these oceanic feedlots, acres of net-covered pens tethered
offshore. It was likely dosed with antibiotics to ward off infection or
fed pesticides to shed a beard of bloodsucking sea lice.
For that rich, pink hue, the fish was given a steady diet of synthetic
pigment. Without it, the flesh of these caged salmon would be an
unappetizing, pale gray.
While many chefs and seafood lovers snub the feedlot variety as inferior
to wild salmon, fish farming is booming. What was once a seasonal
delicacy now is sometimes as cheap as chicken and available year-round.
Now, the hidden costs of mass-producing these once-wild fish are coming
Begun in Norway in the late 1960s, salmon farming has spread rapidly to
cold-water inlets around the globe. Ninety-one salmon farms now operate
in British Columbian waters. The number is expected to reach 200 or more
in the next decade.
Industrial fish farming raises many of the same concerns about chemicals
and pollutants that are associated with feedlot cattle and factory
chicken farms. So far, however, government scientists worry less about
the effects of antibiotics, pesticides and artificial dyes on human
health than they do about damage to the marine environment.
"They're like floating pig farms," said Daniel Pauly, professor of
fisheries at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. "They
consume a tremendous amount of highly concentrated protein pellets and
they make a terrific mess."
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