221974 Sea sick: The impacts of ocean fish farming on the environment, social justice and consumer safety

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Marianne Cufone, MS, JD , Fish Campaign, Food & Water Watch, Washington, DC
Brother David Andrews, CSC, JD , Food and Water Watch, Washington, DC
Around half of the seafood available to consumers in the U.S. and beyond is farmed. Ocean fish farming, the mass production of fish in floating net pens, is associated with a variety of environmental, social justice and public health impacts; felt by people in both the regions where fish farms operate, and where the product is consumed. Concentrated fish feed, waste, and a wide array of chemicals and antibiotics from these facilities pollute the waters, and the fish we eat. Aquaculture (fish farming) production increased 10 fold between 1950 and 2003. Currently, 88 percent of seafood available in the U.S. is imported. Case studies indicate that as ocean fish farming expands, employment opportunities in the region decrease. Further, ocean fish farms are associated with viral, bacterial and parasitic infections, which are often treated with antibiotics and pesticides. Both the infections and the chemicals threaten the surrounding marine environment. When the product from these farms is exported, consumers often face the threat of eating seafood tainted by chemical residues. According to an analysis of records from the FDA, less than 2% of seafood shipments are inspected. The FDA has found that about one out of 11 of these inspected shipments exceeds standards for contamination or filth. This presentation will show that ocean fish farming poses significant threats to the environment, local economies, and consumers, and that the United States is in need of more stringent seafood safety import laws.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the trend in U.S. seafood consumption, and its impact on the American diet 2. Identify contaminants associated with imported farmed fish 3. Evaluate the socioeconomic status of communities living near ocean fish farms 4. Explain the environmental impacts of the ocean fish farming industry

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Food Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

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