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Could we restock the oceans by releasing fish bred in captivity?

Sticking to the question ‘could we’, the answer has to be ‘probably not’. Demand is for the apex predators such as salmon and tuna, high up in the food chains. But they require a lot of food in the form of meals made from other marine fish of lesser market value, which means further depletion of wild fish stocks.

Marine fish farms encounter the problems of any intensive monoculture where individuals of a species are crammed together: disease and pollution. There is some evidence that farmed fish spread diseases to wild populations, that they have a damaging effect on the genetics of wild fish stocks through interbreeding, and that they are less able to survive in the wild. There’s also environmental damage, and it looks as if marine fish farming may be more of a threat to wild fish stocks than a means of replenishing them.

Oliver Crimmen, Senior Fish Curator, NHM London

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  • Tor Marquis

    In 2008, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reported that 146 million salmon were commercially harvested. Of this, 60 million salmon were identified as ocean ranched. Therefore, in 2008, ocean ranched salmon represented over 41% of the commercial catch in Alaska. This is already a big reality.

  • Tor showed that it already is happening and needs to continue to happen. Hatcheries for wild release and fish farming for food have completely different focuses. The oceans need to be re-stocked by the same ones that emptied them… US!