Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Factory Farming—Not Just on Land Anymore

Civil Eats

By Wenonah Hauter

When most people think of factory farming they typically think of feedlots, hog factories or chicken operations—not massive open net pens growing millions of fish in our oceans. However, factory fish farming will soon pose many of the same threats to the environment and to consumers as its land-based counterparts.

Growing fish in a crowded environment in open net pens or cages and giving them antibiotic-laced feed inevitably leads to pollution. The waste, which includes excess feed, antibiotics and the chemicals used to treat the cages, flows directly into the ocean and, ultimately, on to our plates.

Food & Water Watch’s new report reveals that if the government used factory fish farming to reach its stated goal of offsetting the U.S. seafood trade deficit (that is, importing less seafood than it exports), 200 million of these fish would need to be produced in ocean cages off U.S. coasts each year. Calculations show that this could result in the discharge of as much nitrogenous waste as the untreated sewage from a city nearly nine times more populous than Los Angeles.

The environmental issues don’t end there. Escapes from open ocean pens are common, and when farmed fish escape they can compete or interbreed with wild fish, altering natural behavior and weakening important genetic traits. They can also spread disease to wild fish. Washington State and California, for example, are now dealing with a highly contagious disease that is linked to factory fish farms and is threatening to wipe out their wild salmon populations.

Currently, there are only a handful of factory fish farms operating in U.S. federal waters, although there are many closer to the shore in state waters (like those off the coast of Washington State and California). However, just this year the federal government announced a new national aquaculture (fish farming) plan that promotes the increase of these unsustainable farms farther out in the ocean, in federal waters. What’s worse, the government announced it will be bringing these fish farms to the already besieged Gulf of Mexico.

What happens when a hurricane hits the Gulf and tears through these massive fish farms, releasing millions of fish? The last thing we need is another big industry disaster in Gulf waters.

It’s important that we let Congress know that we don’t support factory farming—on land or in the ocean, and that we educate ourselves on other types of more sustainable fish farming, like recirculating, land-based fish farms. These closed-system farms often incorporate plants that purify the water. Fish escapes are impossible since the farms are on land, and consumers aren’t threatened by the types of antibiotics, pesticides and other toxins necessitated by crowded, ocean farm conditions. For more information, check out our report, Fishy Farms: The Government’s Push for Factory Farming in Our Oceans.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Healthcare workers admit a coronavirus patient to a special intensive care unit set up outside Milan's San Raffaele hospital, where 55 percent of patients surveyed developed mental health symptoms after recovering from the new coronavirus. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP via Getty Images

A study from a hospital in Milan, Italy has uncovered another complication to the process of recovering from the new coronavirus. More than half of patients surveyed one month after their treatment had developed a psychiatric disorder.

Read More Show Less
An elephant at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island. In Defense of Animals

By Marilyn Kroplick

The term "zoonotic disease" wasn't a hot topic of conversation before the novel coronavirus started spreading across the globe and upending lives. Now, people are discovering how devastating viruses that transfer from animals to humans can be. But the threat can go both ways — animals can also get sick from humans. There is no better time to reconsider the repercussions of keeping animals captive at zoos, for the sake of everyone's health.

Read More Show Less
Isiais now approaches the Carolinas, and is expected to strengthen into a hurricane again before reaching them Monday night. NOAA

Florida was spared the worst of Isaias, the earliest "I" storm on record of the Atlantic hurricane season and the second hurricane of the 2020 season.

Read More Show Less
A campaign targeting SUV advertising is a project between the New Weather Institute and climate charity Possible. New Weather Institute

To meet its climate targets, the UK should ban advertisements for gas-guzzling SUVs, according to a report from a British think tank that wants to make SUVs the new smoking, as the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less

A company from Ghana is making bikes out of bamboo.

By Kate Whiting

Bernice Dapaah calls bamboo "a miracle plant," because it grows so fast and absorbs carbon. But it can also work wonders for children's education and women's employment – as she's discovered.

Read More Show Less
Scientists say it will take a massive amount of collective action to reverse deforestation and save society from collapse. Big Cheese Photo / Getty Images Plus

Deforestation coupled with the rampant destruction of natural resources will soon have devastating effects on the future of society as we know it, according to two theoretical physicists who study complex systems and have concluded that greed has put us on a path to irreversible collapse within the next two to four decades, as VICE reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Researchers have turned to hydrophones, instruments that use underwater microphones to gather data beyond the reach of any camera or satellite. Pxfuel

By Kristen Pope

Melting and crumbling glaciers are largely responsible for rising sea levels, so learning more about how glaciers shrink is vital to those who hope to save coastal cities and preserve wildlife.

Read More Show Less