From the time I was little, I have heard all sorts of stories about global warming to saving the polar bears. I've seen the disastrous effects of oil on the ocean and ecosystems surrounding it. However, I have never thought about the standards of international seafood trade. With our population booming, commercialized seafarms have soared with it.
While that is obvious, it's natural for unseen problems to occur. In fact, aquaculture impacts much more than our environment. Aquaculture has had devastating effects on people's food and security (which is ironic really). A system that's supposed to help feed the problem may inadvertently decrease it. This along with many other problems like the release of organic wastes and toxic effluents can damage our public health. This can also destroy the wild sea stock. Sustainable solutions to aquaculture is key.
It all starts with us.
As a consumer, there isn't a well balanced plan or pathway to help us distinguish sustainable aquaculture products, but we can help in little ways. One can petition to have local protocol for the local industry to adhere to. We can also demand to have some sort of education teaching us how to differentiate between sustainable techniques and none.
As a producer, the seaworkers can make sure their aquaculture operation is clean with a few tricks:
1. Be sure to only cultivate species that are native in open water systems, and then only in bag nets, closed-wall sea-pens or equivalent systems
2. Use stocking densities that minimize the risk of disease outbreaks and transmission.
3. Try to effectively dispose of organic discharges and effluents to the surrounding area as this may harm the area via the water treatment plants if not treated properly.
Aquaculture is something that's not thought as unsustainable. With a big market, we need to pay more attention. Just like with GMOs, unclean treatment can lead to a disruption into public health.
For more information one what you can do, check out organizations like Green Peace. They try to advocate for clean and healthy oceans for the future, along with other projects that align with their vision.