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Toxic Salmon: Is Farmed Fish Really Safe?

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

My topic is the impact of aquaculture on human health. Generally the discussion of fish farming centers on environmental issues and arguments concerning food safety are marginalized. I want to explore in depth this unconventional idea especially because finding the answers to the questions surrounding fish farming can help me and others become more educated, healthy consumers.

One of the many sources available is Changing the Face of the Waters, a publication from The World Bank. It is an effort to examine “the promise and challenge of sustainable aquaculture” in a series on agriculture and rural development. The book studies many aspects of aquaculture focusing on humans through economy, poverty, health, nutrition, and plans for the future. Using this source, I can explore how aquaculture could solve malnutrition in impoverished countries, influence health trends in wealthy nations, and determine safe aquaculture products really are. The perspectives for the health aspect of fish farming are very mixed. Many say that, if done correctly, aquaculture is safer or similar to wild fishing. Others argue that aquaculture has too many setbacks to outweigh the benefits. Often this argument centers on contamination as the most detrimental human effect. Solutions for aquaculture problems are also addressed, and I have definitely found one that I think should be implemented: integrative (or ecological) aquaculture. This is a system that basically creates an ecosystem by using three or more different species to build a more productive, efficient, and cleaner farming operation.

Works Cited:
Changing the Face of the Waters: the Promise and Challenge of Sustainable
Aquaculture. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2007.


It's definitely a great idea to look further into this concept of aquaculture, and why it remains such a controversial topic today. However, it makes me wonder if aquaculture is so similar to wild fishing, why does it draw so many setbacks than benefits? It is another way to implement fish farming the natural way isn’t it? However since you mentioned it is mostly due to contamination, I believe humans are a major reason why this method isn't providing many benefits. Humans often pollute aquatic environments which harm many marine life species. Your solution with ecological aquaculture seems interesting. It enhances the natural technique of wild fishing or aquaculture. Hopefully this will be implemented in an environment less likely to be polluted, and the species are chosen carefully so there isn’t an overwhelming display of competition or predator-prey relationship.

Your topic sounds very interesting and is definitely something we should look into. It is important to figure out how we can get our supplies from the ocean without draining it completely. Would your idea of creating an artificial ecosystem take place in a large tank or would they actually change existing ecosystems? I'm really interested in how your research turns out.

The most interesting part of your research is looking into whether or not implementing an ecological aquaculture is in actuality better than utilizing standardized aquaculture. You should find out if aquaculture has an effect on biodiversity and if it depletes other species such as the other types of fish that are needed to feed the aquaculture products. Good luck on your paper!

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