(Photograph: Taro Taylor)
Despite the fact that over 40 percent of the fish that we consume everyday are sourced from aqua farms, there are currently no regulations to prevent inhumane treatment of fish in captivity. In the United States and the EU, there are currently no directives or policies regulating rearing conditions or slaughter practices. The conditions of these farms can therefore be horrendous, with up to 50,000 fish within one enclosure. During transportation, the fish are often starved to reduce water contamination for up to a period of ten days. No wonder the rates of mortality, disease and parasite infestations are so high, with an estimated 40 percent dying before they are ready to be slaughtered.
Some experts believe that fish farming doesn't help solve the problem of overfishing, but rather exacerbates it. Many of the species of farmed fish are carnivorous and so are fed on wild caught prey; to produce one pound of farmed salmon, it can take up to five pounds of smaller prey species. However, with regards to fish such as carp and catfish which primarily rely on plants as their main source of food, this heavy reliance on the ocean's wild fish is reduced and vegetarian alternatives to fishmeal are also being developed for the carnivorous species.