It is not surprising that China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of fish.
China produces roughly one third of the total world supply of fish.
In a new study, Stanford University researchers reveal that Chinese fish farmers are harvesting wild fish in order to feed the fish raised on fish farms which is helping deplete fish from the oceans, reports News Daily.
Worldwide, fish farming has grown at a rate of 5 to 8 percent annually over the past; two decades, according to Jogeir Toppe, of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
“China has been the main driver of this growth,” Toppe said. “This is expected to continue.”
Over the past 20 years China’s production has tripled, with roughly 75 percent produced at fish farms.
The fast growth raises health concerns for humans because farm raised fish are typically fed large amounts of antibiotics, according to Toppe.
“If the country makes proactive reforms to its aquaculture sector, like using fish-processing wastes instead of wild fish, and generally reducing the amount of fishmeal in aquafeeds, it can greatly improve the sustainability of the industry,” said Ling Cao, of Stanford’s Center on Food Security and the Environment.
“If not, the consequences for the entire global seafood supply chain are going to be really serious,” Cao added.
Aquaculture companies in China are gradually reducing the amount of wild fish used to feed the farm raised fish.
However, to become a sustainable industry, more companies need to refine more of the waste products from processing plants which are thrown away.
They can also use plant proteins such as algae or ethanol yeast to feed the farm raised fish, according to the researchers.
“There is a clear opportunity for positive change, but the economic and regulatory incentives for such change are not yet in place,” said Rosamond Naylor, a professor in the School of Earth Sciences and director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford.
The research was published in the journal Science.