Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Letter to the FAO: Stop Promoting the Farming of Carnivorous Fish!

July 8, 2024

To commemorate World Oceans Day, the Global Salmon Farming Resistance penned a joint letter to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, asking it to stop promoting aquaculture of salmon, sea bream, sea bass, tuna and shrimp. “The bottom line is that in our current world there is NO farming of carnivorous fin fish which is environmentally sustainable. We need concrete, enforceable international standards for the remediation of damaged environments and the expansion of genuinely sustainable aquaculture options,” said the member groups. 

The FAO has correctly observed that aquaculture is essential to feeding the world’s growing population. It has set ambitious targets for growth: by 2040, it is calling for growth of 75% over 2020 production levels. The organization references “sustainable aquaculture” in its publications, but does not explicitly call out those aquaculture sectors that contribute to the depletion of the world’s forage fisheries. 

“It’s not only the depletion of the fundament of the ocean’s food web that’s the issue,” said Karen Wristen, Executive Director for Living Oceans. “It’s the fact that the fish used in aquaculture feed is being taken from the plates of some of the world’s least advantaged people and reduced into a smaller portion of expensive fish for the developed world’s tables.”  Conversion rates vary depending who’s calculating them, but the world’s largest feed manufacturer claims it takes 2.4 kilos of wild forage fish to make 1 kilo of farmed salmon. 

The FAO is live to the issues with aquaculture and the dire state of many of the world’s fisheries, but has yet to take a firm stance on what constitutes “sustainable aquaculture”. 

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