Showing posts with label fish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fish. Show all posts

Diet or Over Population?

Meat Society: Number 20 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157

Substantial modifications in population size, age structure, and urbanization are expected in many parts of the world this century. These variations can affect energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) outflows. In particular, aging, urbanization and variations in household size can substantially influence GHG footprints in some regions. Aging will occur in most regions, due to declines in both fertility and mortality. 

Aging is expected to be particularly rapid in regions like China that have recently experienced sharp falls in fertility. On the positive side, slowing population growth could provide 16 to 29 percent of the GHG reductions suggested to be necessary by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate transformation.(490)

There is an inverse relationship between the two main drivers behind increased land requirements for food – as socioeconomic development improves, population growth declines. At the same time, diets become richer. Typically, consumption of animal protein, vegetable oil, fruit and vegetable swells, while starchy staples become less essential.

With higher purchasing power comes higher consumption and a greater demand for processed food, animal flesh, cow milk products, chicken eggs, and fish, all of which add pressure to the food supply system. This over-consumption severely affects global sustainability, equity, and food security.(491) 

During a span of 46 years, from 1961 to 2007, a review of data from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) showed that in most regions, diets became richer while available land for food diminished. In many regions, dietary change may override population growth as a major driver behind land requirements for food in the near future.(492)

Potential land savings through yield improvements are offset by a combination of population growth and dietary change. These dynamics were the largest in developing regions and emerging economies. Also, additions to the total per capita food supply is not occurring everywhere around the world. In some rich, developed regions, such as Northern Europe and Oceania, food supply levels remain constant.

In most developed regions, the share of animal products is extraordinary high. From 1961 to 2007, food animals constituted one-third of the available calories in the Global North, compared to 10 percent or less in many of the poorer regions in the global South. These dynamics are set to change. The FAO projects that world population will expand 34 to 41 percent by 2050 to reach 8.9 to 9.1 billion. Food demand will soar upwards by 70 percent, and daily per person calorie intake will rise to 3,130 calories.

Food is a major part of climate warming, but it is also essential for survival, security and equity. Although the consumption per capita of cereals is likely to stabilize, population growth will escalate the demand for both food animals (almost doubling) and cereals (50 percent) by 2050.(493)

Chapter 14: DIET OR POPULATION? page 134

Meat Society

Meat Society is a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

The articles are excerpts from  Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157

See also Pandemics Ahead, a series of articles from Meat Climate Change, that looks at the link between animal protein and global health disasters. See also our COVID-19 Meat Pandemic Bibliography with a categorized listing of Online News and Reports (March to June, 2020).

1. Dietary Transformation

2. Trends in Animal Production

3. Global Carnism

4. US Animal Production

5. Food's Footprint

6. Food Animals' GHGs 

7. Addressing Livestock GHGs

8. Animal Agribusiness Disorder

9. Factory Farming is Not a Solution

10. Structural Demand for Animal Flesh

11. Mitigating Demand for Animal Protein

12. GHGs: A Tale of Two Sources

13. Livestock's Emissions Denial?

14. Sounding the Alarm on Carnism

15. Urbanization and Carnism

16. Over-Consumption and GHGs

17. Global Substitution Diets

18. Class and Global Diet

19. Over-Consumption Curse

20. Diet or Over Population?

21. Hungry Masses

22. Hidden Population: Obesity

23. Livestock Triangle

24. Livestock Equals Food Insecurity

25. Meat and Colonialism

26. Climate Justice

27. Racism and Food Deserts

28. Meat the Patriarchy

29. Greenwashing Cruelty: Humane Meat

30. Diet and Social Justice

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Farmed Fish

Pandemics Ahead: Number 21 in a series looking at the link between animal protein and global health disasters.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157)

Industrial fish-farms are booming. In 2012, the production of farmed fish surpassed that of cows. The world produced 63 million tons of cow carcass and 66 million tons of farmed fish. And, consumption of farmed fish may soon pass consumption of wild-caught fish. (977)

About 600 aquatic species are raised in captivity in 190 countries, including hatcheries that produce fish for stocking to the wild, particularly in inland waters. While aquaculture currently accounts for a smaller part of the livestock industry than land animals, it is the fastest growing sector.

From 32.4 million tonnes (71.4 billion pounds) in 2000, global production of farmed fish soared to 59.9 million tonnes (132 billion pounds) in 2010, which was up 7.5% from 2009 already. Like concentrated animal feed operations (CAFOs), farmed fish are crammed together in cages, often swimming around in their own wastes.

Eighty-six percent of US seafood is imported, and about half of those imports are raised on factory farms, called aquaculture. Asia is the number one producer of these aquaculture products, dominating 89% of the industry.(978) 

Fragile ecosystems like mangroves are being replaced by fish farms, which are projected to provide most of the fish consumed within 20 years. Farming can occur in coastal areas, such as with oyster farms, and inland, in lakes, ponds, tanks and other enclosures. Similar to livestock's impact on forests, large-scale fish farming is leading to the pollution and destruction of wetlands, estuaries and mangroves, and displacement and impoverishment of hundreds local communities across the world.

Many of the top animal genetics firms have begun research and development in aquaculture. They work with only a handful of species, primarily Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, tropical shrimp and tilapia. Many popular seafood species, like salmon, are carnivorous. So, when they are farmed, they eat up to five pounds of small fish to produce just one pound of flesh - a net loss of protein. 

Incredibly, many aquaculture companies in China, Thailand, Vietnam, and other Asian countries feed fish with untreated feces from pigs, chickens, geese and other animals as the primary nutrition. The manure contaminates the ponds with microbes like salmonella and makes fish further susceptible to diseases.(979)

Consequently, farmed fish are given immense quantities of antibiotics to avoid disease, many of which are banned for use in the US. To boot, baby fish are fed testosterone and other growth hormones. Aquaculture may cause harm to the environment directly through (i) the release of organic effluents, and (ii) disease treatment chemicals. They may cause harm indirectly through (iii) their dependence on industrial fisheries to supply feed of smaller fish, and (iv) by acting as a source of diseases or genetic contamination for 'wild' species.

Farmed fish have been shown to have high levels of bacteria, PCBs and insecticides. Around 25% of the food-borne illness outbreaks caused by imported food from 2005 to 2010 in the US involved seafood, more than any other food commodity.(980) Health researchers estimate that the inflammatory potential of consuming tilapia is far greater than that of cow or pig carcass.(981) Farmed salmon may have at least 10 times the sum of cancer-causing pollutants compared to the 'wild' variety, and dioxin levels are 11 times higher. On top of this, farm-bred fish have lower levels of healthy nutrients.(982) Shrimp is the dirtiest of all seafood.

Farmed fish are fed fish-meal, which means that fish low on the food chain are caught, worsening the marine outcome of bycatch. The impact on the menhaden, a type of small fish caught to be fed to farmed fish, is devastating, as this critical little fish is facing severe threats.(983)

Across Latin America and Asia, pollution from aquaculture is leading to dead lakes and extinct species. On top of that, aquaculture production is vulnerable to adverse impacts of disease and environmental conditions, and massive die-offs are a common occurrence in the industry. Disease outbreaks in recent years have affected farmed Atlantic salmon in Chile, oysters in Europe, and marine shrimp farmed in several countries in Asia, South America and Africa. These incidents have resulted in partial or sometimes total loss of production.

In 2010, aquaculture in China suffered production losses of 1.7 million tonnes (3.7 billion pounds) caused by natural disasters, diseases and pollution. Disease outbreaks virtually wiped out marine shrimp farming production in Mozambique in 2011.(984) In 2014 alone, there was (i) a massive die-off of fish in 44 fish farms due to Vibrio bacteria along the coast of Singapore; (ii) over 365,000 salmon were killed due to an outbreak of infectious salmon anaemia virus in Norway, and (iii) Furunculosis bacteria led to the cull of 90,000 trout in New Jersey. In Pennsylvania, (iii) around 52,000 young trout died in a hatchery; and (iv) about 280,000 salmon were killed by a 'rare algae bloom' in Vancouver, Canada.(985)

In 2016, the alarms went off again in the salmon industry in Chile, one of the largest producers of this fish in the world. A massive algae bloom killed 23 million salmon, a loss of up to 20% of the country's annual production, or around 100,000 tonnes, valued at $800 million.(986) Earlier in Chile, an outbreak of ISA, a fin-fish disease caused by a virus, cost the fish farm industry $2 billion in damages in 2007.

Chile's loss is equal to the value of Canada's entire farmed salmon industry, valued at $813 million in 2013. The problem has been made worse by nitrate-rich runoff from livestock from nearby land around the salmon farms, which are typically offshore or in estuaries.

Moreover, farmed fish are becoming inundated with human pollution. For example, young salmon in the north Pacific tested positive for more than 80 different drugs, including cocaine, antidepressants such as Cipro, Paxil, Valium and Zoloft, and dozens of other medications like Flonase, Aleve, Tylenol, Tagamet, OxyContin, and Darvon.(987)

Young salmon were likewise contaminated with nicotine, caffeine, fungicides, antiseptics, anticoagulants, and chemicals from personal care products. The tissues of migratory chinook salmon and local staghorn sculpin also contained these compounds – even in the fish found in estuaries far from sewage treatment plants where the water was previously considered "pristine."

Chapter 26: MISSING FISH, pages 252-3.     Previous  |  Home  Next

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Waste and ByCatch

Pandemics Ahead: Number 20 in a series looking at the link between animal protein and global health disasters.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages. ISBN: 0692641157.

The future of marine life face threats from multiple fronts, including (i) overfishing, (ii) unsustainable seafood farming practices, (iii) ocean pollution, and (iv) acidification. In addition, due to seafood's short shelf life, there is a huge magnitude of waste in the fishing industry. Waste of seafood needs to be monitored and incorporated into the livestock supply chain.

The US edible seafood supply is around 4.7 billion pounds (2.1b kg) per year, which consists of domestic and imported products minus any exported products. Appallingly, from 2009 to 2013, nearly half of the sea creatures was lost and wasted as 40 to 47 percent went uneaten, around 2.3 billion pounds (1b kg).(972)

The greatest portions of waste occurred at the levels of consumers with 51 to 63 percent of loss attributed to consumption, a staggering 1.3 billion pounds (590m kg).

Bycatch discarded by commercial fishers accounted for 16 to 32 percent, or 573 million pounds (260m kg), and lost in distribution and retail operations was 13 to 16 percent, or 330 million pounds (150m kg).

Among all the fishing methods, bottom trawling, a fishing method that drags a large net across the sea floor, is the most destructive to oceans. Bottom trawls are utilized for catching desirable fish that live on the seafloor that is used for food, such as shrimp, cod, sole and flounder. However, the weight and width of a bottom trawl can destroy large areas of seafloor habitats that give marine species food and shelter. Bottom trawlers have affected 20 million square miles (52m sq km) of ocean, turning parts of the continental shelf to rubble. Such habitat destruction can leave marine ecosystems permanently damaged.(973)

In the US, bottom trawling occurs on the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts, capturing in excess of 800 million pounds (362m kg) of marine life in 2007. Bottom trawls are commonly used by many fishing nations and on the high seas as well. Undesirable marine creatures are usually discarded by commercial fisheries.

This collateral damage, called bycatch, can equal up to 90 percent of a trawl’s total catch.

In 1994, the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimated that between 17 and 39 million tons (average 27 million) of fish are discarded each year in commercial fisheries. Fisheries in the Northeast Pacific alone produced a bycatch exceeding one billion individuals annually.(974)

Discard problems in the Northwest Atlantic were classified into four groups: (i) marketable species too small or otherwise prohibited from landings, (ii) species for which no current market exists, but are caught along with commercial or recreational species, (iii) species-specific fleet sectors discarding another fisheries target species, and (iv) non-fishery bycatch species, such as marine mammals, turtles, and birds.

For every one pound of fish caught for food, an average of 5 pounds (2.2 kg) of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as bycatch. For every pound of shrimp, 26 pounds (12 kg) of other sea creatures are killed and tossed back into the sea. As many as 40 percent (63 billion pounds) of fish caught globally every year are discarded. In a multitude of fisheries, the percentage of bycatch far outweighs the volume of target catch.

Case in point, for every shrimp caught by nets dragged behind boats (or trawls) in the Gulf of Mexico, over four times its weight is made up of bycatch. Each year, 20 percent of the total US catch is thrown away, and as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed by fishing vessels.(975)

In addition to by-catch, tons of derelict fishing gear or “ghost nets” are silently killing dolphins, seals, and sharks and other ocean animals that become entangled in them. When nets get snag on the seafloor, crews leave them behind, but those nets keep on fishing and killing, perpetually. Just as ocean currents are pushing plastics to convergence zones, also called gyres, abandoned nets often end up funneled into the same spots.

Ghost nets trap countless numbers of marine animals for years, decades, and perhaps even centuries. In the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary over 85,000 abandoned lobster and crab traps are ghost fishing, while in the Chesapeake Bay, more than 913,000 crabs are caught by derelict traps each year.(976)

The state of the world's marine fisheries is worsening as evidenced by (i) the declining global marine catch, (ii) the larger percentage of over-exploited fish stocks, and (iii) the lower proportion of non-fully exploited species. Switching to less destructive fishing methods represents a partial solution at best, while adopting a plant-based diet is a far better intervention in the marine crisis.

Chapter 26: MISSING FISH, page 251.    Previous  |  Home  |  Next

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Commercial Fishing

Pandemics Ahead: Number 19 in a series looking at the link between animal protein and global health disasters.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages. ISBN: 0692641157.

Overfishing's Carbon Footprint

Despite wide-ranging environmental impacts, fish is a relatively small source of protein. Fish accounts for 16.6% of the world population’s intake of animal protein, and 6.5% of all protein consumed.(959) The 2010 US Dietary Guidelines recommended augmenting seafood intake to 8 ounces (0.2 kg) per person, per week, and consuming a variety of seafood in place of some red meat and chicken. 

Achieving these dietary levels would require doubling the US seafood supply with serious consequences. Global fisheries add $270 billion a year to global GDP, but overfishing, the taking of fish beyond sustainable levels, is reducing fish stocks and employment in many of the world's regions.

While fish catches worldwide are expanding, fish stocks are rapidly being depleted by over-fishing. The loss of ocean biodiversity is accelerating, and 30 percent of the seafood species humans consume have already crashed. In fact, “sustainable” seafood may disappear by 2050.(960)

The greatest enlargement in seafood consumption has occurred in Oceania and Asia, especially China, with hikes from 11 g (0.4 oz) per capita per day in 1963, to 69 g (2.4 oz) per capita per day in 2003. Compared with industrial countries, developing countries have seen larger gains in freshwater fish consumption, with China having a 10-fold upsurge from 1963 to 2003. Globally, the main fishes consumed are white fish, oily fish and seafood invertebrates.(961)

Close to 90% of the world’s fishery catches come from depleted oceans and seas, as opposed to inland waters. On top of that, there are serious human rights concerns over enslaved and bonded labor on fishing vessels, diving operations and processing on land.

In 55 years, humans have eliminated 90% of the ocean's top predators, including sharks, tuna, swordfish, marlin, and mackerel. Now, a small number of species support the majority of the world’s fisheries. Some of the popular species are herring, cod, anchovy, tuna, flounder, mullet, squid, shrimp, salmon, crab, lobster, oyster and scallops.

The UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) fisheries data suggests that global marine catches increased to 86 million tonnes in 1996, then slightly declined. Even so, catch trajectories differ considerably from the national data submitted to the FAO. The exact amount is uncertain since the number of fish caught globally is underreported by about 30 percent.(962)

Health-wise, fish are viewed as a lean source of protein, as well as the omega-3 fatty acids that help the heart. All the same, fish contains mercury, a poison that accumulates up the food chain and can damage the brain and nervous system. And they can contain algae, plastics and other toxins that bio-accumulates up the food chain as well.

Despite mercury and other hazards, humans have depleted the oceans for marine protein. The world had 4.36 million fishing vessels in 2010, and almost all have engines or motors that operate on fossil fuels. Fishing activity is characterized by considerable fuel consumption and release of biocides from anti-fouling paint on the boats.

The depletion of fish stocks widens the distance that is necessary to travel in order to catch certain species of fish. In 2000, 80 million tons of fish required the burning of 13 billion gallons (50b l) of fuel, and released of 134 million tons of CO2. Thus, global fisheries used up to 12.5 times the mass of fuel energy that they provided as edible-protein energy.(963)

And while the 'global warming potential' (GWP) and acidification potential of 1 kg wild cod fish is lower compared to 1 kg chicken, the dry matter content is not equal. For example, the GWP of 1 kg fresh shrimp is similar to that of 1 kg fresh chicken, but three times higher for 1 kg peeled and frozen shrimps.(964)

For every ton of fish harvested, there are substantial amounts of GHGs generated and it varies depending on the location. For instance, for (a) Norwegian fish, it is 1,750 kg (3,858 lb) of CO2 equivalents; (b) for Chilean salmon it is 2,250 kg (4,960 lb); (c) for Canadian fish it is 2,500 kg (5,511 lb); and (d) for Scottish farmed stock it is 3,300 kg (7,275 lb).

There are 3 kg (6.6 lb) CO2 costs associated with each kg (2.2 lb) of frozen salmon brought to North America from Chile, and 5.5 times that GHG cost for fresh Chilean salmon flown into the Northern Hemisphere. In comparison, growing, marketing, peeling and boiling a kg of potatoes takes 280 grams (0.6 lbs) of CO2.(965)

Over 75 percent of major fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited, or depleted, and upwards of 90% of large predatory fishes are gone. Of the 600 marine fish stocks monitored by FAO, 3 percent are underexploited, 20 percent are moderately exploited, 52 percent are fully exploited, 17 percent are over-exploited, 7 percent are depleted, and 1 percent are recovering from depletion.(966) Overfishing has disrupted the organic process of multiple oceanic ecosystems.(967)

For almost five decades, 1961 to 2009, the world's fish catch grew dramatically, with an average growth rate of 3.2 percent per year in the period, outpacing the expansion in the world’s population of 1.7 percent per year. The world per capita seafood fish consumption soared from an average of 9.9 kg (21.8 lb) in the 1960s up to 18.6 kg (41 lb) in 2010.

The peak rate of caught fish was 1988 at 130 million tonnes. Since 1989, the world capture of marine fish has declined by 500,000 tonnes per year despite mounting fishing effort. Each year, usually 90 million tonnes (200 billion pounds) of fish is pulled from the oceans, but in the last seven years (2004 to 2010), landings of all marine species have declined, except anchovy, by around 73.3 million tonnes (161b lbs).

Since 2007, both the Mediterranean–Black Sea and the Southwest Atlantic have seen declining catches, with a plunge of 15 percent and 30 percent, respectively. Over 25 percent of US fish stocks are over-fished, which has led to the collapse of numerous fisheries and fishing communities.

There have been sharp declines in the populations of tuna, cod, and marlins. During the 1960s and ’70s, shelf fisheries in the Atlantic started to collapse due to overfishing. Operations moved to the deep sea, and in turn, deepwater fishing has seriously affected the populations of deep-sea fish, such as the roundnose grenadier, onion-eye grenadier, spiny eel, spinytail skate, and blue hake. The populations of these deep-sea fishes have plummeted by over 87 percent in 17 years. It is expected that these fishes will be driven to the point of extinction, to the detriment of the ecosystems in which they live.(968)

“Suction harvesting” swallows up huge quantities of krill that are processed, frozen, and stored on specially outfitted ships. The krill are used as feed for fish-farms (aquaculture) or transformed into omega-3 oil and other health supplements. The upshot is that seals, whales, and penguins are losing one of their primary sources of food.(969)

Chapter 26: MISSING FISH, pages 248-9     Previous  |  Home  |  Next

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Mercury Poisoning

Pandemics Ahead: Number 17 in a series looking at the link between animal protein and global health disasters.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages. ISBN: 0692641157.

These have been a tripling of the surface water mercury content in the oceans, compared to pre-industrial conditions, and a 150 percent increase in the magnitude of mercury in the underlying thermocline water layer.(1046) Doses of mercury associated with typical rates of fish consumption may pose measurable endangerment to human health, and there is no safe threshold for this dangerous chemical.

Several experiments have documented mercury hazards from eating fish in the US (1047) and South Korea.(1048) Risks were identified with consumption of 120g of dried shark for methylmercury in Oman as well.(1049) In environments without oxygen, mercury combines with carbon to become methylmercury, a highly toxic compound. Bottom-dwelling fish consume methylmercury particles on the ocean floor and are then eaten by larger fish. Large fish such as sharks, swordfish and king mackerel contain the largest amounts of methylmercury because they are higher up in the food chain.

Since 2002, seafood consumption in the US has grown substantially, which means that US fish consumers have higher concentrations of mercury in their bodies. Tuna - canned light, canned albacore and fresh/frozen varieties - accounts for 37.4 percent of the total mercury inputs for US consumers. And alarmingly, between 1998 and 2008, mercury levels in yellowfin tuna have increased nearly four percent annually. This trend will continue and possibly accelerate, with dire implications for human health and a range of ocean species.(1050)

Mercury is particularly dangerous for pregnant women. Among other hazards, it can result in children born with brain damage. Tuna and sea bass are loaded with mercury, while shark and swordfish are worse. Exposure at high levels can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system. High levels in the bloodstream of unborn babies and young children may harm the developing nervous system, making the child less able to think and learn.

A study by Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that Mercury levels in women who frequently eat fish are 11 times higher than in women who rarely eat seafood. Findings show that almost 30 percent of the women had more mercury in their bodies than the level the US Environmental Protection Agency considers safe, 1 ppm (part per million).(1051) The limit of 1 ppm was calculated in 2000, but EWG has advocated for a stricter mercury limit of 0.58 ppm based on updated research from 2007. Almost 60 percent of women had more mercury in their system than this stricter limit. 

During pregnancy, the dietary goal for omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA) is 650 mg, of which 300 is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). And, although some women eat more than twice as much fish as the average American, almost 60 percent of them still do not get the amount of omega-3s recommended during pregnancy from seafood in their diets.

Fish do not synthesize DHA or EPA, rather, these are derived from the plankton and microalgae they eat. So supplements made from algae-based DHA could be used to obtain omega-3s, instead of fish. Also, nuts and seeds such as walnuts, flax-seed and canola oil contain omega-3s, although the body has to convert these plant sources from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to DHA.(1052) 

Chapter 28: HUMAN DISEASES, pg 268-9    Previous  |  Home  |  Next

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