Seafood, wild or farmed?

Seafood, wild or farmed?

Most people think of seafood as either wild or farmed, but in fact both categories may apply to fish picked up from the grocery store. In recent years, for example, as much as 40 percent of the Alaskan salmon catch originated in fish hatcheries, although it may be labeled "all wild, never farmed."

An article produced by a working group of UC Santa Barbara's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) recommends that when a combination of seafood production techniques are used, this be acknowledged in the marketplace. The group calls on national and international organizations and governmental agencies to use the term "hybrid," when applicable.

Many common types of seafood were produced using techniques from both fisheries and aquaculture, according to Dane Klinger, first author and a Ph.D. student at Stanford University.

The article reveals how the strictly traditional categories of seafood production – fisheries and aquaculture – are insufficient to account for the growth potential and environmental impacts of the seafood sector. The authors examine several popular seafood products that are harvested using a combination of techniques generally ascribed to either fisheries or aquaculture.

In aquaculture, the lines are often blurred – fishing may be involved in production. For example, Bluefin tuna farms obtain their stock by fishing. These farms also fish for feed, and use 10 to 20 kilograms of fish for every kilogram of tuna they produce.

The authors conclude by stating the urgency of adding the hybrid category: "Without these data, transformations in the market for a critical food and livelihood source for billions of people could occur, with global analysts and policymakers being the last to know."
Source: NCEAS