Fish-farmed genetically modified salmon could help alleviate overexploited wild fisheries

Seafood remains one of the last types of foods that we harvest from the wild at a commercial level, and fully 90 percent of the world’s fisheries are deemed overexploited or exhausted.

joint OECD-FAO report shows that the global appetite for the fruits of the sea will grow over the next several decades. With wild fish supply flat, aquaculture is filling in the gap and taking pressure off our oceans.

By the 1990s, the dream of aquaculture began to resemble a nightmare of unsustainable growth. One of the most glaring problems with aquaculture was the growing demand for farm-raised carnivorous fish, such as salmon, trout, and sea bass, which still relied on wild fish for feed.

Researchers responded, developing plant-based feed, but one study estimates that to produce enough feed for all Atlantic salmon from plant sources would require about 45 percent of the total agricultural area of Denmark.

Genetic engineering also presents the possibility for more efficient and sustainable aquaculture. The genetically modified AquAdvantage salmon incorporates a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon into an Atlantic salmon, enabling it to grow to full size in half the time and using 25 percent less feed.

If done properly, aquaculture could become the best option for fish fans—but consumers will need to embrace it. Fish raised on new alternative feeds will have to taste the same for them to be widely accepted. Controversy over the genetically modified salmon means it has yet to reach market, despite FDA approval.

Read full, original article: There Aren’t Plenty of Fish in the Sea

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