Aquaculture and Production of Organic Food Fish

organic food fishHigh demand and consumption of food fish especially trout and salmon have turned the aquaculture industry to become one of the fastest growing food production sector in the world as it develops to catch up with the capacity in order to meet the objective of feeding the world’s population. Fish farmers over the years have relied mainly on technologies and research to keep up and increase productivity and it is very common that use of medicated feed that contains antibiotic is quite a rampant practice. As a consumer who is highly health conscious about the food that we eat, this article is meant to highlight and made available the information related to aquaculture and understanding the basic stuff related to it.

The term “organic food fish” is becoming more and more popular as people these days are very particular about what they put into their mouths. As healthy lifestyle becomes an increasingly important topic of discussion, so does the expectation of the consumers. Farmers are also moving towards that direction as they realize that organic certification not only enhance their produce in terms of economic value but overall improve their credibility and reputation as well. Although a clear and well-defined aquaculture standard has not yet been fully applied in most countries, basically when it comes to this subject, several aspects are mostly similar especially when it comes to the management and the production of food fish before it qualifies to obtain the organic certification. Different countries of course have different standards of requirements pertaining to the organic labeling. Let’s look at some of these aspects which we shall discuss in details.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) Fish
In order to ensure that the fish has high survival rate and to keep up with the demand, selective breeding has been carried to select the trait which are not only tolerant to disease but also the growth must be fast enough and yet produced the leaner meat that consumer are hoping for. Therefore, apart from selective breeding, farmers have even resort to technologies that sometimes involve extracting the genes from other species of fish which are taken and artificially combined to the genome of a current population to develop a new breed of fish having all the characteristics. This is what we called GMO and it’s no surprise that when it comes to application in foods, the idea of using it has been banned and resisted in full force by consumers.

Fish are sometimes highly susceptible to disease and spread of bacteria or viruses can often wipe out the whole livestock causing severe losses to the farmers. Therefore most of them have resorted to giving food or medicated feed that are often added or spiked with antibiotics so that their fish are more resistant to these conditions and thus helps to reduce mortality rate. Not only that, in order to cut down production cost, whereby the food makes up the largest percentage of the overhead operating expenditure, farmers have even used vegetable or even animal waste to feed their livestock. These foods often carry with it certain levels of toxins and if the quantity accumulates to become more and more, it can be passed over to consumers as we eat the fish. Therefore in order to qualify for organic certification, the feed given must also be organically certified and that means the type and source of the food is controlled and periodically checked not to contain over the permitted levels of these harmful materials.

Environment which the livestock are grown is also another aspect equally important. Before a fish farm is given organic food certification, usually the officers will require that a certain protocols are put in place with regards to site management and usually they will make a visit to the place and confirm on that. The main thing that they are looking for is that the water in which the fish are reared must be routinely maintained and looked after its cleanliness to meet the standards of clean water condition. Sanitation aspect is also emphasized especially on how the fish waste are being removed out from the system. Workers entering the premises must also wear special attire complete with boots and hair net cover so that contaminants are not accidentally brought in from outside and introduced to the farm. Basically what is more important is how the organic principles are incorporated in the aquaculture systems.

Barnes, A., T. Hastings, and S. Amyes. 1995. Aquaculture antibacterials are antagonized by sea water cations. Journal of Fish Diseases
Devlin, RH and Donaldson, EM.1992. Containment of genetically altered fish with emphasis on salmonids. In: Transgenic Fish. Ed. C.L. Hew and G.L. Fletcher, Word Scientific Pub. Co., Singapore

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