Conventional wisdom among eco-activists considers farmed foods to be inferior to “naturally” raised alternatives. Indeed, aggressive campaigns are underway to demonize ventures such as farmed salmon, which they consider to be an environmental threat to the survival of wild salmon.
But at the same time their activist allies elsewhere are insisting consumers swear off red meat—for environmental reasons!—their “green” movement brethren are arguing that production of alternatives—including aquaculture-grown seafood—are equally unworthy.
What never seems to get as much attention is the sad state of most marine food resources, which are almost universally depleted. If one follows activist logic to its logical conclusion, then to protect both the environment and wildlife people must abandon animal foods and subsist on wheat, corn and soy—which, to feed the population of North America, requires a level mechanized cultivation that is roundly condemned by the those same activists.
At the same time, the protection of marine habitats and the preservation of threatened species struggling to survive in over-harvested fisheries and depleted ocean environments is de-linked from the commercial activities responsible for the crises in the first place.
We can’t switch to “healthier” seafood and expect to sustain the world’s current seafood harvest much longer.
A classic example is a controversy currently raging in the Cayman Islands, that Caribbean tourist destination first “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in 1503 (and originally named Las Tortugas for the abundant sea turtles there). These British territories, which lie south of Cuba, are perhaps most notable for their status as a financial haven for offshore wealth, a focal point of the last presidential election debates.
But the islands’ other attraction are its tropical waters, a scuba diving paradise, and one of the principal attractions for divers is the majestic green sea turtle. However, despite its graceful maneuverability in the water, the turtles are sluggish and slow when they trek to the sandy beaches each spring to lay their eggs. Then they’re easy to capture, and the indigenous population has long used both the turtles and their eggs as a significant food source.
Although the turtles are now protected, poaching remains a huge problem, which the Cayman government tried to address by funding a turtle farming operation. But the Cayman Turtle Farm, which receives subsidies of about $10 million a year, according to a story in the Cayman Free Press, has been attacked by animal welfare activists.