Farm-Raised vs. Wild-Caught Fish: What's the Difference?
Fish are a great source of protein, Omega-3 fatty acid, and a lot of other important nutrients. The growing demand for fresh fish has created a need for aquaculture or fish farms. While wild-caught fish is still a major source of fresh fish, farm-raised fish comprise more than 50% of all fish produced for human consumption. What's the difference between farm-raised and wild-caught fish? Keep reading to find out!
Farm-raised fish are raised in a man-made enclosure. They're usually kept in large tanks. Because they don't have the freedom to roam, farm-raised fish are a lot more fatty. Not only do they have less space to swim, farm-raised fish are more likely to contract diseases. To counteract this, farm-raised fish are given a lot of antibiotics. The habitat of farm-raised fish is a lot more limited.
Wild-caught fish are raised in the wild. They have the freedom to swim anywhere they want to. Because these fish are traveling and exercising more, they're leaner and healthier. The habitat of wild-caught fish is wide and unlimited.
Because the lives of farm-raised fish are controlled by their farmers, they're given a limited diet. To supplement the lack of variation in their food, farm-raised fish food is fortified with vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. This means that farm-raised fish are known to have more omega-3 fatty acid than wild-caught fish. Their limited diet has benefits and negative effects on farm-raised fish.
Wild-caught fish are known to have a wide and varied diet. Because they eat more colorful food, wild-caught fish have naturally brighter flesh. Things like krill are known to provide a more vibrant hue. Wild-caught fish are known for being less fatty not only because they can swim longer distances, but because they aren't actively trying to be fattened. They eat the food that nature provides and are, in turn, more lean and colorful.
There are arguments on both sides as to what practice is more sustainable. It all depends on the method of the fisher. In some instances, wild-caught fish are more sustainable because it allows for some population control. It becomes unsustainable when there aren't enough fish left in the water. This comes from over-fishing certain waters and robbing the natural habitat.
Farm-raised fish have been given a bad reputation for breeding fish with poor health. In some cases, farmed fish are more sustainable than wild-caught because they can allow for less strain on the world's oceans. While keeping up with the demand for fresh fish, farmed fish don't over-fish from natural waters. It becomes unsustainable when the fish are raised poorly and unhealthy fish are sold. Not all farmed fish are unhealthy, but it's very common.
When deciding between farm-raised fish and wild-caught fish, you need to do more research about your supplier. If they catch their fish in the wild, are they leaving enough in the water? If they farm their fish, are the fish healthy? There's not a black and white answer to which fishing practice is the most sustainable. Just make sure you trust your supplier.