Farmed Fish - fair or foul?

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Conventional wisdom says that farmed fish is a dirty word, but farming can be a good thing. As a general rule of thumb if the fish is vegetarian than farming is probably good, if the fish is a carnivore then odds are the costs outweigh the benefits.

Farmed is great when it comes to vegetarian fish like trout, tiliapia, sturgeon, catfish, striped bass, shrimp, crawfish, oysters and clams to name but a few. These fish are farmed inland, in filtered systems. The waste can be removed and reused as fertilizer. Better yet this type of farming poses no threat to either the environment or the consumer.

Rick Stein, the celebrated British chef, serves some farmed fish at his famous Padstow restaurant. He argues they stand up to more robust flavours, for instance, farmed trout in red wine sauce.

Farming carnivores however is not usually a good thing. Farming salmon for example is problematic because of the massive amounts of other fish necessary to feed the farmed salmon. To generate one pound of farmed salmon the carnivorous fish need to eat five pounds of other fish. This can deplete certain fish stocks.

These farms are often in costal waters where vast areas are cordoned off with nets. These pens generate a filthy mess of fish waste. Besides being a nasty environment to cultivate you dinner, the waste from the salmon kills off sea life below the farm as it sinks. Because of the filth in their penned in environment these fish need to be feed antibiotics. The antibiotics lead to drug restraint strains of disease organisms which can decimate wild populations.

The excess waste also leads to the creation of large algae blooms that sicken and kill sea life often miles from the source.

** Farmed fish to avoid: ** (carnivores)
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