Sunday, October 01, 2006

The imperfect science of domesticating species...

While environmentalists will rightfully be critical about a recent report showing a serious lice problem with farmed salmon, it seems to follow the centuries old pattern for animal agriculture. Large concentrations of salmon also mean large concentrations of salmon parasites.
FISH farms are responsible for the deaths of up to 95% of young wild salmon migrating out to sea, according to a new report.

Concentrations of sea lice are 30,000 times higher around fish farms in coastal waters than in deep waters. The new research warns that young wild salmon are dying after swimming through plumes of lice from infected fish farms. [More]

To decrease the kill of wild salmon, and still meet growing demand, salmon farms were begun about 20 years ago. They have made salmon widely available at reasonable prices. I doubt the farm operators had any reason to anticipate this unfortunate consequence, but now it has been discovered, I'll bet they find an answer.

This pattern of constantly improving food production methods is now enhanced by a vigilant environmental community and powerful technological diagnosis tools. Perhaps salmon farms are inherently too costly to the environment to allow, but the need for fish in human diets and the action of a free marketplace could bring about solutions that satisfy (grudgingly) both sides. At least that has been the way to bet so far.

It's how we produce food in this world. And it works pretty well.

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