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DOWN TO EARTH

We meet the people behind fascinating environmental, health and technological innovations in a bid for sustainable solutions to our changing world. Saturday at 7.20 pm. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2014-01-14

A fishy food dilemma

Global appetite for fish is exceeding the oceans' ecological limits, with devastating impacts on marine ecosystems. After decades of overfishing and intensive aquaculture, new industrial models are emerging. Veta la Palma, an aquaculture farm in Andalucia, proves that sustainable aquaculture is possible.

Ever since I was a child I have never liked the taste of fish. So it came to be that, at age 33, as I prepared to fill in for Mairead Dundas on her fantastic show "Down to Earth", I was fully ignorant of - and not that interested in - pretty much everything that happens in the sea.

But what I found out as I started doing some research startled me: according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, 60% of global fish stocks are currently being fished at full capacity and 30% are overfished.

Bottom line: we have reached nature’s limit. We cannot catch more fish in the sea, lest we deplete the stocks for good. Yet global demand continues to grow as the world population increases.

That leaves aquaculture to supply what the oceans cannot. Already half the fish that end up in our plates are farmed, not caught.

So what’s the problem? Well, over the years the aquaculture industry has been blamed for polluting the seas, spreading diseases and destroying natural habitats.

But things are beginning to change. In this edition of Down to Earth we visit one of the most innovative fish farms around: Veta la Palma, in Spain’s coastal region of Andalucia. The farm manages to turn a profit, improve the environment and produce some of the tastiest fish in the Mediterranean. Other players in the industry are also now looking to shake things up and invent the aquaculture of the future. 

By Cyril Vanier

Mairead Dundas is back next week.

By Cyril VANIER , Marina BERTSCH , Juliette LACHARNAY , Anna-Gaëlle Brault

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