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Thread: The world moves on with us or without us . . .

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    Lightbulb The world moves on with us or without us . . .

    Good "An Outdoor View" column in today's Peninsula Clarion. Palmer is reading Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg. Palmer quotes Greenberg from the book:

    "At their root the wild strains of salmon in Alaska have a very narrow threshold for exploitation, and their move from niche item to world commodity could lead to a classic fisheries collapse. If we are going to continue to eat wild salmon, we must eat them sparingly as the rarest of delicacies and their price should reflect their rarity in the world."

    An interesting thought. Here's the book's description from Amazon:


    Book Description

    Publication Date: May 31, 2011
    "A necessary book for anyone truly interested in what we take from the sea to eat, and how, and why." -Sam Sifton, The New York Times Book Review.

    Writer and life-long fisherman Paul Greenberg takes us on a journey, examining the four fish that dominate our menus: salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna. Investigating the forces that get fish to our dinner tables, Greenberg reveals our damaged relationship with the ocean and its inhabitants. Just three decades ago, nearly everything we ate from the sea was wild. Today, rampant overfishing and an unprecedented biotech revolution have brought us to a point where wild and farmed fish occupy equal parts of a complex marketplace. Four Fish offers a way for us to move toward a future in which healthy and sustainable seafood is the rule rather than the exception.

    And here's a piece by the author:

    Editorial Reviews
    Amazon.com Review

    Paul Greenberg on Four Fish: Fix the Farm, Not the Salmon

    When the New York Times reported in June of 2010 that the US Food and Drug Administration was “seriously considering” approving a genetically modified Atlantic salmon for American consumption the cries from environmentalists and food reformers were, predictably, almost audible on the streets. The AquAdvantage® Salmon uses a “genetic on-switch” from a fish called an ocean pout (a very different animal) in combination with a growth gene from a Chinook salmon to achieve double the growth rate of the unmodified creature. The animal’s creator, AquaBounty Technologies of Waltham, MA asserts that the fish will be sterile and grown in out-of-ocean bio-secure containment structures. Nevertheless the emotional worry of genetic contamination of wild fish, the public preoccupation with health risks a modified salmon could pose, and just the overall ick-factor consumers seem to have about GMO food were all on display across the foodie and environmental blogosphere a few days after the Times article ran.

    But, curiously, perhaps the loudest groan that I heard in response to the AquaBounty successes came from salmon farmers. “What I have been noticing over the years,” Thierry Chopin, an aquaculture researcher based in New Brunswick, Canada wrote me, “is that the aquaculture industry is not jumping to embrace what AquaBounty has been proposing.” For years salmon farmers have been waging a public relations war, trying to gain legitimacy as an industry that could be both profitable and produce more food for a hungry world. When a paper published in the journal Nature in 2000 revealed that it took more than three pounds of wild forage fish to grow a single pound of farmed salmon, the salmon industry responded through selective breeding, increased use of soy and other agricultural products and more efficient feeding practices to lower the wild fish use of farmed salmon to the point where some farms claim to have achieved a fish in-fish out ratio of close to 1 pound of wild fish for 1 pound of farmed salmon. When diseases like infectious Salmon Anemia and parasites like sea lice began to run rampant on salmon farms around the world, some regions, like the Bay of Fundy in Canada, instituted better fallowing and crop rotation practices and appear to have had some success in breaking disease and parasite cycles. But in spite of these improvements, a single mention of transgenic salmon in a major media outlet is enough to spoil whatever gains the industry has made in public perception. Indeed, many lay-people I talk with have the impression that transgenic salmon are already a regular part of the farmed salmon market, this despite the fact that there are still no transgenic salmon sold in the United States or anywhere else that I’ve encountered.

    Don’t get me wrong. I sincerely do not believe that the salmon industry has solved its environmental problems. But I do think that it suffers an unfair association with the AquaBounty project and that genetic modification distracts from what investment and research really needs to address. The two biggest problems with farming salmon are:

    1) Salmon are grown in sea cages, often anchored amidst wild salmon migration routes. This can cause the fouling of waters with wastes and the transmission of diseases and parasites to already seriously threatened and endangered stocks of wild salmon. Selectively bred fish regularly escape and some suggest they may interfere with the lifecycles of wild fish. Even worse, entirely different species of salmon are often raised in non-native environments. Atlantic salmon are regularly farmed in the Pacific and often escape.

    2) Farmed salmon consume a huge amount of wild forage fish. Even though feed efficiency on a per fish basis has improved dramatically, salmon farming overall has grown so much that the per-fish efficiency has been all but erased by a much larger overall presence of salmon farming in the world. Atlantic salmon, once limited to the northern latitudes of the northern hemisphere, are now farmed on every single continent save Antarctica. It’s possible farmed salmon escapees may have even reached that most southerly redoubt. Salmon farms exist as far south as Patagonia, South Africa and Tasmania.

    So what is the way forward and how do we deal with this transgenic issue? If I were tsar of all salmon farming and could redirect investment money at will, I might take all of those dollars that go into transgenic research and put that money into really confronting the problems that plague the industry. I might look to developing efficient, above ground, re-circulating aquaculture systems. These facilities allow fish to be grown in temperature-controlled environments without any interaction with the wild. Disease transfer and genetic pollution are greatly reduced if not eliminated altogether. Yonathan Zohar a professor and Chair of the Department of Marine Biotechnology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County's has created a test facility right in downtown Baltimore that grows an array of species and even manages to recycle the fish wastes into fuel-grade methane gas that can be used to run pumps or heat water. Though these systems are energy intensive the ability to build them in proximity to markets lessens food miles. Furthermore recirculating systems offer precisely controlled growing conditions and can bring fish to market in half the time as open sea cages.

    I might also try to expand on the work of Thierry Chopin who is piloting a program of Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture or IMTA where mussels, edible seaweeds, and sea cucumbers are grown in conjunction with salmon in a complex polyculture. Rather than just trying to make an artificially efficient modified salmon, Chopin is trying to make a more efficient system where multiple crops radiate out from a single feed source. Because mussels, sea cucumbers and sea weed can all metabolize the wastes from salmon, they have a potential to neutralize and reuse the effluent that has plagued salmon farms in the past.

    Another place I might put my salmon dollars would be the development of alternative feeds that are synthesized from soy and algae and might eventually obviate the need for using wild forage fish in salmon feed.

    Finally, I might consider investing in a different fish altogether. Some critics of the aquaculture industry believe we should do away with the farming of salmonids altogether. But to my eye, there is a very entrenched market for salmon flesh and we might be better served finding a different salmon-like fish that has a smaller footprint. The most hopeful alternative I’ve come across is a fish called the arctic char. The arctic char is from the same taxonomic family as salmon, has pretty good feed conversion ratios, rich flesh, and most interestingly of all, because it frequently finds itself crammed into close quarters when its natural arctic lakes freeze, it has high disease resistance and takes extremely well to high stocking densities—densities that are necessary to make out-of-ocean aquaculture operations profitable. And this is exactly what’s happening with char. Most are grown in re-circulating, above ground tanks in Iceland and Canada.

    Of course some people will never embrace a farmed solution for fish. There is a camp that feels very strongly that farmed fish are uniformly bad for the world and inferior on the plate. I have to confess that I don’t always share this opinion. Arctic char strike me as a good environmental compromise and to my palate, they’re pretty tasty.
    --Paul Greenberg

    The times they are a'changin' . . . while we bicker and squabble, the world moves on.

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    TIME magazine did a nice article about the world-wide dilemma of harvesting the last remaining wild food on the planet vs farming it.

    One of the issues discussed is the net protein yield of farmed fish.... expressed in terms of wild fish protein equivalent that must be fed to the farmed fish for every pound of meat yield produced by the farm. For salmon, it takes 4-5 pounds of wild-caught forage fish to produce the feed pellets to yield a pound of farmed salmon flesh. Other species, it takes far less. Others yet, require no wild-caught forage to support the farm. The farmed species is vegetarian and able to convert it's non-piscivorous diet into protein.

    Think about it. The rest of the food industry does not raise predatory livestock to feed a hungry world. Would it make sense to raise bears, or wolves, or sea lions for the meat industry? Of course not. We would have to feed them way more meat than we could ever hope to gain back at the slaughterhouse.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    TIME magazine did a nice article about the world-wide dilemma of harvesting the last remaining wild food on the planet vs farming it.

    One of the issues discussed is the net protein yield of farmed fish.... expressed in terms of wild fish protein equivalent that must be fed to the farmed fish for every pound of meat yield produced by the farm. For salmon, it takes 4-5 pounds of wild-caught forage fish to produce the feed pellets to yield a pound of farmed salmon flesh. Other species, it takes far less. Others yet, require no wild-caught forage to support the farm. The farmed species is vegetarian and able to convert it's non-piscivorous diet into protein.

    Think about it. The rest of the food industry does not raise predatory livestock to feed a hungry world. Would it make sense to raise bears, or wolves, or sea lions for the meat industry? Of course not. We would have to feed them way more meat than we could ever hope to gain back at the slaughterhouse.


    Good point and one that will figure largely, I suspect, in the future of aquaculture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post


    Good point and one that will figure largely, I suspect, in the future of aquaculture.
    I wish I could share your optimism, but I am unable, for our agricultural history and food consumption choices doesn't bear it out. The Doc hit on a subject that apparently very few people have the capacity to understand or care about.

    Domestic cattle are about the least efficient producers of meat per pound of feed/water we could possibly choose to raise, and yet cattle dominate our food industry. By comparison, rabbits will produce 6 pounds of meat for the same amount of feed that a cow requires to produce 1 pound of meat. And yet we choose cattle. To make it worse, we in our infinite wisdom, feed corn to our cattle; a food they are not designed to eat and which is ultimately fatal to them. Consider also that corn is about the most inefficient grain we can grow per acre / amount of water and fertilizer required.... So, we first grow the most inefficient grain possible, then unnaturally force feed it to the most inefficient meat producer possible....

    We use 5 pounds of environmentally destructively trawl caught miscellaneous fish species, which we could consume directly, but instead consume who knows how much energy and generate who knows how much more pollution, to grind up those 5 pounds of fish, to make pellets to feed penned salmon, to make 1 pound of fish. How insanely asinine can we be?

    Our entire food production culture is so rife with ignorant, inefficient, environmentally unsound practices, I don't see where there is any reason to think we will be any smarter in how we view fish culture. I wish I could find reason for optimism and a brighter future for our understanding and interaction with the natural world, but I don't think we as a society have the intellectual capacity for it. Certainly, we don't demonstrate it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Our entire food production culture is so rife with ignorant, inefficient, environmentally unsound practices, I don't see where there is any reason to think we will be any smarter in how we view fish culture. I wish I could find reason for optimism and a brighter future for our understanding and interaction with the natural world, but I don't think we as a society have the intellectual capacity for it. Certainly, we don't demonstrate it.
    I heard somewhere that the grains currently used to feed meat animals could feed instead an additional two billion people. The Western diet is killing us . . we live in a system designed to make us sick and keep us sick.

    People are waking up . . times change.

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    Good points all around but i prefer a big old ribeye instead of a tofu roast or a bowl of oatmeal LOL

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    Big questions worth addressing. It seems more are considering, "Where does this all lead?" Good thread and responses to an important broader topic. Serious ... and complex too, as kgpcr points out.

    Just recently I read (in a Trout Unlimited source, I think, but could not find the reference) a news piece which described voters in one or more Lower-48 communities. They seemed either to not understand or to not be interested in whether wild or stocked fish populated their local streams. To me, the underlying issue is the quality of the habitat, but the discussion necessarily gets back to people... and people are sometimes sensitive.


    Thanks for posting this, Marcus.
    Last edited by 6XLeech; 01-14-2012 at 11:30. Reason: edit

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgpcr View Post
    Good points all around but i prefer a big old ribeye instead of a tofu roast or a bowl of oatmeal LOL
    The "big old ribeye" is not necessarily the issue. The issue is how you go about growing it.


    I hate tofu, and oatmeal too.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    we live in a system designed to make us sick and keep us sick.
    I don't believe that this is true, though I'm not entirely sure. To my eye, it is more a matter of people and enterprises setting certain priorities to focus on, namely an emphasis on efficiency and private capital, with a tendency to externalize costs to public resources.


    Produce at the supermarket is a great example. Since Borlaug's revolutionary work ethic and the rigor with which he approached crop breeding, we have seen notable changes in the bulk biomass consumed by humans on Earth.

    Studying plant breeding and changes in our food supply provides many insights to changes in the the larger social system, because when you select for one or two traits in particular in a crop, you are unknowingly selected for/against many other traits. Anyone who has eaten a large and flavorless Orange can attest to that. A fruit bred to get large and ship well, is notably deficient in the qualities that most of us want in a fruit, including basic nutritional qualities. There are ways around this, but there has to be an incentive to focus on a trait, and the foolish consumer abounds.

    Likewise, there has to be an incentive for the movers and shakers in the larger system to alter it in ways other than those they have already prioritized.

    Pumping freshwater out of the ground, and harvesting misc. marine protein from trawls are very similar in a lot of ways. Both are conducted without regard to the finite supply, because both resources are in theory sustainably replenished. And wouldn't you know it, the enterprises best suited to adapt to changing realities once these resources are acknowledged to be finite (in a momentary sense), are the ones who most blatantly exploit it in the early stages when they are treated as being infinite.

    This is a fundamental problem as I see it. Exploitation rules the day, because private industry is largely unwilling and the government largely unable to institute proactive policies and reforms (see health care!!!!). It's all reactionary, which favors the juggernaut.


    This is where "think globally, act locally" comes into play. And where I get back to feeling unbelievably blessed to have been born in Alaska. It is hard, however, to overcome the urge to revel in the here and now, versus acknowledging the realities of what Alaska and the world at large may look like in say 200 years if those of us who are mindful focus more on the here and now than on the future.


    getting a bit rambly now and digressing a bit.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    "You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to andweav again."
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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    Exclamation Industrial and political stagnation . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by andweav View Post
    . . Likewise, there has to be an incentive for the movers and shakers in the larger system to alter it in ways other than those they have already prioritized.

    . . This is a fundamental problem as I see it. Exploitation rules the day, because private industry is largely unwilling and the government largely unable to institute proactive policies and reforms (see health care!!!!). It's all reactionary, which favors the juggernaut.
    I think the sentiment expressed above, to my mind at least, vividly illustrates the futility of most of the past discussion on this particular forum. Most of what's been said here on various threads has no concern for any larger system than that already prioritized.

    Current modes of exploitation rule the day with each special-interest group defending its mode of exploitation. Industry, commercially oriented toward sport or nets, is unwilling, and government is unable to institute reform.

    Reform is coming regardless.

    The rest of your post, andweav, and your remark, iott, about how beef is grown warrants a new thread on the Global Discussion forum.

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    I dont think anyone is doing anything to anybody. I dont think the system is "designed". Store sell what we buy. If we would not buy it them they would not sell it. There is no one to blame but but rather we need to take personal responsibility. If we are sick because of what we eat then we need to make healthier choices. Just that simple. I have no one to blame if i die of heart disease from a poor diet but myself. Mcdonalds does not make anyone eat there. People choose to eat there. I dont think its the Governments job to tell me what to eat and "institute reform". I dont want the Govt telling me what to eat!! Take responsibility for your own actions and dont blame others for your problems is the way i look at it.

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