Test Your Aquaculture IQ

Can you sort out the fresh facts from the fishy falsehoods when it comes to aquaculture? Read on and find out!

Fresh Fact or Fishy Falsehood?

Farm-raised salmon gets its pink color from dyes.

That's a fishy falsehood!

Farm-raised salmon get their bright 'salmon' color from an ingredient called astaxanthin in their feed, just as salmon in the wild get this carotenoid from eating small crustaceans such as krill. Farmed salmon receive this antioxidant in their diet that is identical at a molecular level to the compound in krill. Astaxanthin belongs to the same group as carotene, which gives carrots their orange color, and is also consumed by people as a dietary supplement.

Fact Source: NOAA

Aquaculture always consumes more wild fish than it produces.

That's a fishy falsehood!

Some farmed fish are carnivorous; their feed can include fishmeal and fish oil as well as land-animal meals and oils (such as poultry products), vegetable proteins and fats (such as canola and peas), wheat (as a binder), vitamins, minerals and carotenoids like those found in krill. Other farmed fish are vegetarians. Still other farmed seafood, such as shellfish, requires no feed since animals like mussels and oysters are filter feeders.

Fact Source: Global Aquaculture Alliance

Farmed fish are just as heart-healthy as their wild-caught counterparts.

That's a fresh fact!

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids two times a week, including both wild and farmed fish species.

Fact Source: Seafood Nutrition Partnership

Aquaculture always harms the environment.

That's a fishy falsehood!

Environmental impacts of farming seafood vary dramatically by country, region, production system and species. Operating under best practices, aquaculture is more efficient and less damaging to the environment compared to other animal protein production systems. Farmed seafood will be necessary for human health and nutrition for growing populations around the world. Wild fish, farmed fish and people all rely on a clean environment, and all systems must work in concert towards a healthier ocean and planet.

Fact Source: Food's Future, Conservation International

Farmed fish are full of antibiotics.

That's a fishy falsehood!

Antibiotics are only used in aquaculture once a medical condition has been diagnosed, and are only used to treat medical conditions caused by bacteria. Antibiotics are deployed as prescribed by a licensed veterinarian—just as a dairy farmer would treat a sick cow. As with any other animal-derived food in the U.S., fish must be free of any antibiotic residue before harvest. The best way to deal with disease is to employ measures to prevent it from happening.

Fact Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Farm-raised fish are safe for pregnant women.

That's a fresh fact!

The FDA recently recommended that pregnant and nursing women should be eating 2-3 servings per week of healthy, low-mercury or no-mercury fish like tilapia, including farm-raised products.

Fact Source: FDA.gov

Fish are farmed in dirty water and crowded conditions.

That's a fishy falsehood!

Aquaculture facilities in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world are regulated to ensure that they are both sustainable and safe for the fish they produce and the area that surrounds them. While every farm is unique, it is in the farmer's best interest to keep their farming conditions as clean as possible. Clean water conditions can be maintained by placing farms in areas offering good flow conditions with moderate to high natural currents which help dissipate nutrients from waste and uneaten feed. Dirty and diseased fish do not profit the farmers, and fish welfare linked to healthy environmental practice is becoming more of a priority worldwide.

Fact Source: NOAA

Farmed salmon are covered in lice and that is killing the wild salmon population.

That's a fishy falsehood!

While sea lice occur naturally in the ocean, farmed salmon are actually susceptible to lice from wild salmon swimming in nearby the pens. However, lice incidence can be dramatically reducing by monitoring stock density, rotating pens among non-adjacent locations, and letting sites lie fallow between harvests.

Fact Source: NOAA

Tilapia is a worse food choice than bacon.

That's a fishy falsehood!

This statement originated in a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association that claimed that tilapia offers worse health attributes than bacon. The principal argument behind the study is that tilapia has high levels of polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids relative to omega-3 fatty acids, in a ratio of over 2-to-1. Although omega-6s can be considered a healthy fat because they lower "bad" cholesterol and are vital for brain development and normal growth, a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 can increase inflammation in the body. However, the amount of omega-6s in tilapia is less than 0.5 grams per serving, and not everyone agrees that the 2-to-1 ratio is important for good health. When considering that Americans get far more omega-6s from healthy foods such as nuts and seeds than from tilapia, and that the average American's omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 16-to-1, it is not rational to say that tilapia is unhealthier than bacon.

Fact Source: The Healthy Fish

No genetically modified organism (GMO) fish are sold in the U.S.

That's a fresh fact!

The USDA and FDA do not allow the sale of GMO fish for human consumption in the United States.

Fact Source: FDA

More than half of all seafood eaten by people comes from farming.

That's a fresh fact!

Aquaculture supplies more than 50 percent of global seafood for human consumption. Along with finfish, we farm shellfish and seaweeds.

Fact source: NOAA

Aquaculture is the fastest-growing form of food production in the world.

That's a fresh fact!

Since 1970, global farmed seafood production has, on average, increased at an annual rate of 8 percent. China produces the most aquaculture; the United States ranks 17th in total aquaculture production.

Fact Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

For more questions about Seafood Smart™, email us at seafoodsmart@aqua.org.