I will be the first one to admit that there is not much better in this world than a fresh, well-cooked slab of salmon. Unfortunately, as we all know, overfishing has been a major environmental concern for a while now. As we continue to hunt these swimmers to extinction, we are upsetting the entire oceanic ecosystem in ways that are nearly impossible to predict. What we are able to predict, however, is that life in our oceans will be dramatically different if we do not take action soon.
One new development in this issue affects specifically the open ocean aquaculture industry, also known as fish farming. In this line of work, farmers capture smaller fish from their native grounds and use them to feed the larger fish they are raising. The recent proposed solution to this overfishing comes from an unlikely source: the soybean. The soy industry, seeing an opportunity to gain $200 million each year, has offered to replace the wild-fish-feed with soy-feed. At first glance, this seems like a great idea—promote one industry with another, and reduce the bad effects of overfishing. The problem, Wenonah Hauter from Food & Water Watch claims, is not the effect of this collaboration on the oceans, as might be expected, but rather the effect this industrial partnership will have on the land. The soy industry employs dangerous herbicides and causes massive deforestation in its normal farming habits, and growing the industry will simply exacerbate the existing problems. It all comes down to striking the balance that will minimize environmental damage as much as possible in both locations: land and sea. This question, of course, is inevitably tied into the political issue of how much control government should have over industry. I am hopeful that we can reach a compromise that maximizes the benefit for everyone involved: consumer, government, soy industry, and fishing industry. Of course, I’m not going to hold my breath.
For more information on the soy industry’s partnership with the fishing industry, visit http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/44622