What is a fish farm?
A fish farm is an aquaculture operation where fish are grown in a controlled water environment for commercial or recreational use. Aquaculture, a major global industry, is the growing of aquatic plants and animals for harvest. Fish aquaculture may take place in pens in rivers, lakes, streams and coastal areas or on land using man-made tanks or ponds. Fish commonly produced in fish farms are catfish, salmon, trout, tilapia, shrimp, oysters, clams, and crawfish.
Fish farms have several benefits, such as maintaining a steady supply of fish and reducing the need for imported seafood. But they can also have harmful environmental effects. Fish farms that use natural waterways can introduce non-native species to the surrounding environments. Coastal areas may be damaged when turned into new production sites. Diseases can spread from fish in the growing pens to wild fish. The waste from all the fish concentrated in one area can pollute the water and settle in sediments. Fish may be fed antibiotics to keep them healthy, but these drugs may leak into the marine environment causing toxic conditions for other species. Fish farms that use man-made structures may be cleaned with chlorine.
Both farmed and wild-caught fish, especially salmon, may contain traces of mercury or PCBs. Recent studies, however, conclude the health benefits of eating fish far outweigh any potential health risks from contaminants.
This description is based on the information found in the Web links listed with this topic.
Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Aquaculture (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Aquaculture Operations (Environmental Protection Agency)
Aquaculture Product Safety and Consumer Health (Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition) (PDF — 352.84 KB)
Coastal Issues: Aquaculture (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Fishwatch. Aquaculture Frequently Asked Questions (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
U.S. Seafood Market Shifts to Aquaculture (Dept. of Agriculture)
Chemicals and Fish Farms
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Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Last Updated: November 20, 2014