If the the future of food is hazy right now due to overconsumption, globalization, and climate change, the future of seafood is even murkier. The global fish catch topped out sometime in the 1990s, leaving many fish populations more or less permanently overstressed. Aquaculture has grown to satisfy rising global demand – but fish farms have brought environmental devastation to many a coastal zone.
Is the answer to pack up those coastal operations and move fish farming offshore? That’s the question I attempt to answer in this Yale Environment 360 piece. I started out with the assumption that, whatever the environmental hazards, a big move into deeper waters is inevitable someday – the economic and political pressures pointing in that direction, now weak in the United States and elsewhere, are only going to rise as the world’s demand for protein goes up.
And, on the surface anyway, offshore aquaculture is promising. The entrepreneurs and advocates I talked to seemed environmentally responsible and thoughtful. If you locate a fish farm in deep water (employing large pens or cages designed to withstand the stress of the open ocean), many of the ... Read more