As the stocks of wild fish began to diminish, and even before the catastrophic decline of such species as cod, sea bass, and red snapper, fish farming was seen as a way to satisfy the world’s growing appetite for healthful fish and at the same time a means of sparing wild fish populations and allowing their numbers to rebound. Today, over 70 percent of world fish stocks are fully exploited or are already overfished.
Aquaculture was also seen as a way to provide a living for thousands of farmers and fishermen who had seen their usual crops lose value and their catches disappear. It was hoped that fish farming would help provide the protein needs of Third World populations through locally produced products. Fish farms could be located along coastal areas and near inland rivers and lakes, wherever water could be supplied. The fish farms’ “fields” could be large tanks, artificial ponds, and enclosures in natural settings such as rivers, lakes, seacoasts, or the open ocean.
What is Fish Farming?
Fish farming is the industrial practice of aquaculture where huge quantities of fish are bred and raised in enclosed, unnatural conditions and to be slaughtered in a commercial setting, and sold as food. Approximately half of all fish eaten around the world come from industrial fish farms. Farmed fish are typically grown in large tanks, industrial enclosures, sea cages, net pens, or small ponds to produce high yields of fish in short periods of time.
Fish Farms Around Us
In the current environment of the farms that we come across, the similarities between the “quality” of the fish raised in confined captivity to those raised naturally are eerily similar to factory-farmed livestock like cows, pigs, and chickens. At the end of the day, the companies responsible for raising these animals like fish care about their profit. When the bottom line is involved, many things are done to make business more efficient and more profitable.
The shortcuts that are taken and the practices implemented can cause a lot of harm in the long term to have quick gains in the short term on human health. Fish farmers are only concerned about their business and profit and are least concerned about the health of the consumers of these fishes. Farmers follow various banned methods by which they may argue the following practices are for the wellbeing of the fish, the reality is they don’t want to hurt their profit margins.
Like animals raised on factory farms, farmed fish are fed high quantities of antibiotics. While it can be argued this is done with good intentions, the reality is more sinister. The conditions where fish are raised on factory farms are so crowded that if a fish gets sick it is possible to spread the disease to countless other fish.
While it’s nice to think that farmers don’t want fish to get sick, the problem with consuming too many antibiotics is obvious. The fish can become resistant to the antibiotics which can make it more difficult for them to fight off disease.
Impact of antibiotics on human health
What’s even scarier is the potential for humans to develop resistance to antibiotics as well. When humans continuously consume what is present in the food they eat, they can develop a resistance that potentially harms them down the road if they need to take a certain antibiotic to fight off illness.
Pesticides enter the fish farming environment from nearby industries or from the agricultural runoff as groundwater. These pesticides enter into the fish and some cause lethal effects and lead to the death of fish, whereas some others like the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at certain levels enter into the body of fish and remain as residues. These residues in smaller levels do not affect the fish instead affect the person who consumes these fishes.
Impact of pesticides on human health
PCBs are carcinogenic in nature and cause cancer risk in humans.
An alarming chemicals that are typically found in farmed fish include dibutyltin, Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether (PBDE), and dioxins. Which are byproducts of the Poly Vinyl Chloride industry and cause adverse effects in human health.
The impact of the chemical on farmed fish occurs when the location of the farm is near the industrial area and the water from the industrial emissions is used in fish farming ponds.
Impact of toxic chemicals on human health
Dibutyltin, which is commonly used in the production of PVC plastic, can increase the risk of prediabetes and obesity if consumed by humans. The consumption of these toxins by humans can alter thyroid hormone homeostasis and cause thyroid dysfunction. This can lead to the subsequent development of thyroid cancer.
According to the World Health Organization, the consumption of dioxins can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones, and also cause cancer.
For business attainment and profit margins, fish are fed with wet waste from poultry, household, and hotel waste which pollutes the environment and creates growth impact and nutrition to fish will not be attained. Moreover, the hormones and fat deposited in poultry waste accumulate in the fish muscle and become residues which affects the human health.
Impact of wet feeds on human health
Consuming fish that are fed with wet waste, especially poultry waste causes a carcinogenic effect on human health and also leads to increased bad cholesterol levels in the human body. It also affects the liver functioning.
How Hygiene is attained in VTF farms.
VTF ensures that the fish reaching the customer should be farmed and harvested in a hygienic manner which provides quality and supports nutrition. VTF ensures that the fish is 100% traceable to customers and offers the highest quality standards right from the farming practices till the fish reaches customer doorsteps. The steps followed at VTF are as follows.
- Farm Locations: VTF ensures that the fish are farmed in locations that are free from industrial and agricultural pollution and in water that is free from the presence of pollution or heavy metals. At VTF, fish biologist continuously evaluates and monitors the water quality, and fish sampling is done to ensure the fish farm is free from pollution and is 100% safe for the customers.
- Biosecurity: biosecurity means a secure environment for growing fish, free from physical, chemical, and biological hazards to avoid contamination of the aquatic environment. This is achieved by securing the fence of the farm with a green shade net and the top to be covered by bird lines.
- Feeding: VTF ensures that the fish are fed with protein-rich pellet feeds that attain the right growth of fish at the right time.
- Sludge removal process: The sludge removal process determines the microbial load in the water. The fish waste i.e., fecal matter settles at the bottom of the pond and creates sludge which needs to be pumped out of water at periodic intervals for the good health of fishes. VTF will accept the fish from those vendors whose farms have proper sludge removal processes for the quality of the fish.
VTF places a significant emphasis on the quality and hygiene of the fish, from harvesting to delivery. With 100% traceability, customers have the right to know every detail about the product until it reaches your hands. This level of transparency ensures that the fish is fresh, hygienic, and has no foul smell, giving customers A Grade Fish with peace of mind & safe product to consume.
With VTF, you can be confident that you are consuming safe and high-quality A Grade Farmed fish. No longer have to worry about the quality of the fish they are consuming. By choosing VTF, you are making the right choice to eat healthy.
(MSc Industrial Fisheries and Fish Biologist)