A new environmental sustainability score card for finfish fish farming is quite revealing for a number of reasons.
Let us be clear. We support discussion around seafood sustainability. But, as you can imagine, we are getting quite skeptical of public relations stunts disquised as ‘science’. This important discussion needs to be part of a broader base that deals with food sustainability (cost/benefit) and not just a narrow focus on just one type of protein and one method of growing that protein. Frankly, it diminishes the relevance of efforts like GAPI.
First, the Global Aquaculture Performance Index (GAPI) again reveals the true agenda of the Pew Charitable Trust. Along with the help of John Volpe, both group and individual are well known to dream up ways of attacking aquaculture, especially salmon farming. (for those who don’t remember, Pew was behind the bogus ‘PCB in salmon’ scare back in 2004).
Secondly, it is highly suspect that this index system’s only focus is aquaculture – and finfish aquaculture specifically. As a result, there is really no benchmark to understand how the rankings of each fish species and country might compare to traditional fisheries and aquaculture hybrid programs (ie. salmon ranching). A few other concerns;
- GAPI is not peer reviewed. Accuracy is therefore unknown (although “peer review” doesn’t guarantee that either!)
- Focus on environmental sustainability only. Should include other pillars of sustainability.
- Impact targets are set at zero (what in this world is zero impact?)
- If aquaculture density is reduced, as this study suggests, then how does the increased consumption of other proteins affect global food sustainability?
Lastly, and most importantly, the GAPI study indicates that countries such as the U.K., U.S.A., Norway and Canada are far ahead in sustainability due to rigid regulation and effective production practices. If some environmentalists had their way, they would reduce or eliminate fish farming in these countries, thus increasing production in developing countries that, according to the GAPI results, score comparitively low on environmental sustainability.
Canada is a producer of farm-raised Atlantic salmon – a species that scores third highest on the GAPI sustainability index. Canada production levels are relatively small on a global scale – and low production densities are recommended in the GAPI analysis. So understanding this global perspective, you’d think Canadian environmental groups would be applauding and encouraging Canadian aquaculture…
Sorry, got caught dreaming again.