Our Fascination For Fish
It is striking how obsessed people are about fish. Whether it is eating fish, or trying to catch them with a fishing rod or keeping them in a pond or aquarium …… people just seem to love fish.
Fish is promoted as a healthy food, low in fat and can be high in omega 3 fatty acids. Fresh fish is readily available now around the UK, gastro pubs and fish restaurants entice their clients with mouth watering exotic recipes.
Catching your fish can be great fun – angling being the greatest participatory sport in the UK – though the majority of fishing is for course fish which seldom end up on the supper plate.
The other group – the fish keepers look after around 140 million fish in aquariums and some 2 million ponds in UK gardens. After cats and dogs, fish are the most popular pet in the UK.
But does the joy of fish lure us into a false sense of security? Fish are disappearing fast – will there be enough fish for our grandchildren and the numerous species which also depend on them?
The FAO 2010 State of the World fisheries comments that the supply of fish from wild fisheries has remained static at 89 -93 million tonnes per year. However, demand for fish is escalating and total global consumption of fresh water and marine resources amounts to 142million tonnes in 2008.
The short fall is taken up by aquaculture – which now accounts for 46% of all fish consumed on the planet. Further increases from the capture fishery are out of the question. Aquaculture has played a pivotal role in meeting this growth in demand, almost all fish farmed globally is for consumption.
In contrast in the UK (especially in England), aquaculture a very small industry, and an appreciable proportion of production is for the angling / ornamental markets and not for the table. With up to 80% of our fish/seafood being imported, demand for fish is rising in the UK, some are asking whether in 20 years time we will have enough fish to go around?
By 2030, the UK population is projected to be 71 million. With global demand for fish rising, the rapid growth of the emerging economies, the UK will have to become much more self reliant for its fish supplies. Our only option is to grow our own as sustainably as possible – so what will aquaculture in the 21st century look like? Aquaculture in the 21st century