Fish farming on land versus fish farming in the sea
„Why are fish so indifferent to us?“ – this question is asked by reporter Hannes Jaenicke in the ZDF documentary „Im Einsatz für den Lachs“ (German). The report and its content have been the subject of much discussion in the media and in society in recent weeks. From our point of view, this is a very important topic, because the documentation shows the fatal consequences of mass livestock farming in so-called salmon farms in net cages for the natural wild salmon stocks and the ecosystem. The salmon is one of the most popular edible fish in the world, and no one really wants to live without it. But less of the salmon that end up on our plates are wild catches. Rearing in aquacultures could be the solution to continue producing popular fish species in large quantities. Although many people are aware of the overfishing of the oceans and the necessity of fish farming, very few know the advantages and disadvantages of different aquaculture systems. In the following, we will go into the differences using the example of salmon.
The consumption of fish and its consequences
It is estimated that Germans consume more than 14 kilograms of fish per year. Alaska pollack and salmon are among the most popular edible fish. As a result, these particularly endangered fish species, among many others, have become a mass product. In the refrigerated shelves of supermarkets, salmon can be found in all possible forms: whether whole, as fresh fillets, smoked or in sushi. Jaenicke puts it quite drastically: „The biggest problem is our insatiable appetite for fish. In Canada, the natural habitat of the salmon, the stocks in the waters have been reduced considerably. In the past, inhabitants, bears and sea eagles could feed on hundreds of thousands of salmon, but this is no longer possible today, as the international industry demands several million tons of salmon annually.”
The problems of net cages
In principle, species-appropriate and sustainable rearing in aquaculture systems can contribute to the conservation of natural stocks. However, there are enormous differences with regard to the different rearing methods. A description of different aquaculture forms is available in our blog post “Open aquaculture systems“. The ZDF documentary takes a closer look at the rearing of salmon in Norway in net cages. Net pens or cage systems are anchored in natural waters such as ponds, rivers or the open sea. Although the spatial limitation facilitates feeding, control and fishing, this form of rearing also causes some problems. The animals are not reared in a species-appropriate way in a confined space. At the same time, metabolic products of the fish, food remains and often administered drugs such as antibiotics reach the surrounding waters directly. Biological dead zones develop underneath the net farms. Infestation with viruses and parasites is also a major problem in such cage systems due to the high stocking densities and lack of current. Diseases and deformations of the animals occur in a very confined space. Dead fish are not fished out of the large masses but sink to the bottom and contaminate the water there as „bacteria slingshot“. If you look at these circumstances closely, it is highly questionable whether fish from such facilities can be eaten with appetite at all.
Aquaculture can also be environmentally friendly
By rearing fish in recirculation systems on land, sustainability can be significantly increased. These closed systems have enormous advantages compared to other forms of aquaculture:
- Avoidance of negative effects on the environment by keeping the system closed
- Energy saving through efficient design of the technology
- Water saving thanks to powerful water treatment and
- Removal of feed residues, excrements and metabolic products by mechanical and biological filters
- Sufficient habitat for the animals by fixed stocking densities, which result from the existing water volume
- Safeguarding animal welfare through automatic control and permanent monitoring of all the important parameters
These advantages are also combined in the SEAWATER Cube, with which we would like to contribute to the protection of natural stocks and enable sustainable, high-quality and regional fish farming under controlled conditions. In our facility we completely dispense medication and growth promoters with the use of machines. SEAWATER Fish grows up with sufficient space in clear water. As soon as the fish are ready to be sold, they are fished fresh by hand only after receiving the customer’s order. In this way, we guarantee both a gentle and needs-based removal from the tank as well as an exceptional freshness of our products and avoid rejects completely.
Quality instead of quantity
In summary, we can state that the claim for fish consumption must also be „Less is more, but in high quality“. When choosing fish products, it should be ensured that they ideally come from responsibly managed and closed recirculation systems. Although exceptional quality is also associated with a higher price, we can protect not only our health, but also our earth through sustainable, regional and conscious consumption. Each individual should make his or her own contribution to the overall success and how could it be easier than starting here with the topic of food, which accompanies us every day.
Further informationen about the SEAWATER Cube
Check out more facts about our system and the technology.
— https://www.zdf.de/dokumentation/dokumentation-sonstige/hannes-jaenicke-im-einsatz-fuer-den-lachs-100.html, recalled on 08th July 2020
— https://www.aquakulturinfo.de/news/fischkonsum-deutschland, recalled on 08th July 2020
— https://www.oceancare.org/de/da-bleibt-einem-der-lachs-im-halse-stecken/, recalled on 08th July 2020