Farmed Fish Tops Beef In Pursuit Of The Plate

Farmed fish
(FARM) For the first time in modern history, fish farming has surpassed beef production. In 2012, the world production of farmed fish reached 66 million, while the world production of beef only hit 63 million. These staggering statistics are not coincidental but are most likely a result from the increase in grain and soybean prices, which makes raising cattle significantly more expensive. Thus, fish farming has become somewhat more efficient but is still problematic. Certain farm-raised fish, like salmon, tuna, and shrimp, are fed smaller fish, and the combined mass of the smaller fish is larger than that of the farmed fish—making the input greater than the output. Overall, the human race is eating beyond the constraints of the natural environment, and veganism may be the best solution to this growing problem. Continue reading for more on farmed fish and beef production as well as the effects these industries have on our environment. — Global Animal
Farmed fish production has overtaken beef production. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Huffington Post, Rachel Tepper

The production of farmed fish has overtaken the production of beef for the first time in modern history, according to an article from environmental think tank Earth Policy Institute.

In 2012, world beef production reached 63 million, but it couldn’t top the production of fish farming, or aquaculture, which soared to 66 million. This year, too, could be a milestone — consumption of farmed fish may surpass those caught in the wild.

farmed fish versus beef production market

So how did this happen? Beef production boomed in the second half of the 20th century, but has been slowing since the late 1980s. The amount of fish caught in the wild has remained constant for the last three decades. According to the institute, getting more food from natural landscapes is looking increasingly unlikely as the world’s fisheries and grasslands reach exhaustion. Cattle feedlots and farmed fish are the results.

Grain and soybean prices have risen, which means that raising cattle has become more expensive. Raising fish, on the other hand, is strikingly more efficient — and this is perhaps to thank for its rising production numbers.

“Cattle consume seven pounds of grain or more to produce an additional pound of beef,” writes the article’s authors, Janet Larsen and J. Matthew Roney. “Fish are far more efficient, typically taking less than two pounds of feed to add another pound of weight.”

That’s not to say that farmed fishing is efficient. Fish we see in grocery stores, like salmon, tuna and shrimp, are fed with smaller fish. The combined mass of these smaller fish is greater than that of those grocery store fish, meaning the input is greater than the output.

In the Earth Policy Institute’s eyes, reliance on farmed fish is problematic also because it means we’re eating beyond the constraints of our natural environment. It recommends “slowing population growth” and consuming less meat, milk, eggs and fish.

Some groups are critical of aquaculture, like ocean conservancy group Oceana, which says that the practice leads to unhealthy fish. Other groups, like Whole Foods is more complimentary of it — when done right.

“Farming seafood can provide a consistent, high-quality, year-round supply of healthy and delicious protein,” reads the grocery chain’s website. “And when it’s done right, aquaculture can be environmentally friendly and can be a crucial way to supplement wild-caught fish supplies.”

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