This page has been archived, and may no longer be up to date

Captive bluefin tuna inside a transport cage. The cage is being towed by a tug from fishing grounds in Libya to Tuna farms in Sicily.

Sustainable Aquaculture

Greenpeace seeks to ensure clean and healthy oceans for the future, and part of this is working to improve the standards of international seafood trade. As wild stocks decline, the demand for farmed shrimp, salmon, tuna, tilapia and other marine finfish is on the rise. Therefore, due to its sheer size and its impacts on the oceans, the aquaculture industry is an important part of the overall picture.

Aquaculture is not a solution to overfishing. Traditional forms of aquaculture can and do make substantial contributions to food supplies in areas of the world where food needs are acute, but these need to be sustainable.

Many modern aquaculture practices emphasise the unsustainable production of species for high-value export markets. Rapid development and expansion of intensive aquaculture for species such as salmon and shrimp has, for example, resulted in widespread degradation of the environment and the displacement of coastal fishing and farming communities.

Unsustainable aquaculture also negatively impacts on the food supplies and food security of developing coastal countries. Aquaculture development often blocks access to common lands, used by local people for fishing and cleaning (collecting of seafood from the ground), and takes away traditional food sources, for use in fishmeal and oil production for aquaculture production. 

What are the main problems with aquaculture? 

Unsustainable aquaculture can devastate our oceans and the environment and impact on local people's food and security.

Some examples include:

  • the extraction of marine species from oceans, including wild juveniles vital for future stock growth, increasing the burden on wild fish stocks and having major food security implications;
  • fishmeal and so-called 'trash fish' used for feed production - often the main food for local people - taken for use in aquaculture ponds;
  • the release of organic wastes (that, for instance, act as plant nutrients for harmful algal blooms) and toxic effluents into the oceans;
  • the destruction of coastal ecosystems, displacement of coastal communities and depletion of fresh water sources to build aquaculture ponds.

What kind of aquaculture is sustainable?   

There are no species that are sustainable as such. The sustainability of a species depends on its feeding and lifecycle habits, as well as the farming operation. Only species that are plant eaters, who can breed in captivity, and whose farming does not produce high levels of nutrient output can be cultivated sustainably.

There are a number of conditions an aquaculture operation must adhere to in order to be sustainable. Among other things, an aquaculture operation can only be regarded as sustainable if it:

  • is continually moving towards plant-based feeds originating from sustainable agriculture;
  • does not use fishmeal or fish-oil-based feeds from unsustainable fisheries and does not represent a net loss in fish protein yield;
  • does not use wild-caught juveniles;
  • only cultivates species that are native in open water systems, and then only in bag nets, closed-wall sea-pens or equivalent systems (if there is cultivation of non-native species, it must be restricted to land-based tanks);
  • does not result in negative environmental impacts in terms of discharges and effluents to the surrounding areas;
  • does not result in negative effects to local wildlife (plants as well as animals) or represents a risk to local wild populations;
  • does not use genetically engineered fish or feed;
  • uses stocking densities that minimise the risk of disease outbreaks and transmission;
  • does not deplete local resources, for example, drinking water supplies and mangrove forests;
  • does not threaten human health;
  • supports the long-term economic and social well-being of local communities.

Achieving sustainability requires adhering to a full set of measures and cannot be reached through simply implementing one or two. 

How can consumers be sure that the products they buy come from sustainable and fair aquaculture?

No current certification scheme covers all of the issues essential to ensure products come from sustainable and fair aquaculture operations. It is the responsibility of retailers to ensure that the products they buy come from operations adhering to the conditions described above. Retailers must, until a reliable certification system is in place, communicate to their customersthe sustainability of their products.

In turn, customers must also challenge their retailers to ensure that their supplies stick to all of these conditions. Unless consumers can be assured that products come from sustainable operations, they should not buy them.

The Greenpeace report, Challenging the aquaculture industry on sustainability, offers advice to the industry on becoming sustainable, and provides guidelines to retailers and seafood suppliers on how to ensure they only buy aquaculture products from sustainable operations. 

The latest updates

 

Exposed: Suspected illegal tuna carrier in Taiwanese port

Image | 23 January, 2011 at 14:17

23 January 2011 - Taiwan. Activists on board the Rainbow Warrior exposed a ship suspected of violating Taiwanese fisheries laws, in the port of Kaoshiung, Taiwan. They projected messages onto the hull and called on the Taiwanese Fisheries Agency...

We got the spirit, you got to hear it, under the sea

Blog entry by Sari Tolvanen | 21 January, 2011 2 comments

I have been doing diving jobs for Greenpeace as part of our campaigns for 7 years. I have seen beauty, destruction and saved little lives under water. Some very bizarre dives also fit into these years. Once I was even in a telephone...

Princes responds to your emails but not your demands for sustainable tuna

Blog entry by Joss Garman | 21 January, 2011 11 comments

Princes is sending out an automated response to anyone emailing the company asking them to stop using fishing methods that kill sharks, turtles, dolphins and other fish in order to fill their cans with tuna. I've taken the letter...

Urgent protection needed for tuna

Image | 20 January, 2011 at 17:49

Divers from Greenpeace and Taiwanese environmentalists form a school of tuna to give an eye-catching warning about the urgent need for better fisheries management at a Greenpeace organized activity in Pingtung County, Taiwan. Greenpeace is...

Captain's Blog: The doors will open

Blog entry by Mike Finken | 17 January, 2011 2 comments

When actions are principally correct all the doors and weather windows open. Our stop in Green Island, has been a confirmation of that. The monsoon is wicked off Taiwan and has not stopped blowing this year and Green Island, situated...

Looking for tuna in Taiwan

Blog entry by Apple Chow | 13 January, 2011 1 comment

The ship has already left windy and rainy Keelung and we just arrived at the second stop of the Ocean Defenders East Asia tour , Su-ao in eastern Taiwan. Suao is the second largest tuna fishery port in Taiwan. At 7am the following...

UK tuna retailers back marine reserves in the Pacific

Blog entry by Sari Tolvanen | 10 January, 2011 4 comments

Greenpeace UK has just launched a new tinned tuna sustainability ranking . On top of are Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer followed by Waitrose, three major retailers that have gone to great lengths to ensure that tuna, sold in their...

A personal history with the Rainbow Warrior

Blog entry by Chris Hay | 8 January, 2011 11 comments

Last week we took the office staff from Greenpeace's new office in Taipei on the 3 hour train trip to Taiwan's eastern port of Hualien. The Rainbow Warrior was there doing some last minute maintenance before the start of the Ocean...

Big fish, little appetite

Blog entry by Arthur Dionio | 7 January, 2011 2 comments

Arthur helps a little girl onto the Rainbow Warrior during an open boat day in Keelung, Taiwan. At 4:30am the fish market of Keelung, in Taiwan, is awash with fish and people. Locals say it's consistently busy in this market, as...

Rainbow Warrior arrives in Taiwan

Image | 3 January, 2011 at 11:51

January 2011 - Taiwan. Celebration to welcome Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior, in Keelung, Taiwan. The ship launched its Defending Our Oceans tour of East Asia. Read more .

Count me in

Sign the petition for a global network of marine reserves

61 - 70 of 175 results.

Categories