ShouldFish Farming be allowed in the Great Lakes?
Fishfarming is one of the most common forms of aquaculture. FAO definesaquaculture as the rearing ofaquatic organisms such as fish in controlled conditions usually infresh or salty water (Hayse-Gregson & Kempke n.d.). It is largelypracticed to supply rare types of fish and also to bring fish andother forms of seafood closer to markers. The US imports most ofseafood consumed in the country giving ample room for fish farmingexpansion (Payette 2014.). Cage culture or water pens are used torear fish in open waters such as lakes, oceans and rivers where thefeeding and mating is highly controlled. While this approach has thepotential to boost fish farming phenomenally and grow the localeconomy, it has been resisted on various grounds byenvironmentalists, sport fishing enthusiasts, tourism companies inthe region noting that it will affect tourism and sports fishingactivities.
Cageculture is relatively less capital intensive compared to other fishfarming methods.The open water pens require comparatively low initial capital outlayas it does not require for construction of ponds and flushingsystems. Therefore, it is more economical to the farmers and benefitsconsumers with competitively price seafood. Thequality and types of fish available in the market can be closelycontrolled.This is because farmers can choose specific species to rear and thuscontrol and respond to consumer needs more appropriately. This alsotakes place in controlled natural environments which is critical inpreserving the natural characteristics of the fish. Some of thecommon species being reared in the region include trout, whitefish,salmon and tilapia among others (ISU 2009).
Cagecultureincreases fish production in the region exponentially.This provides for creation of jobs, support the local hotel industryand ensure a steady supply of seafood at the right prices in the US.Although sports fishing enthusiasts have greatly opposed cageculture, the existing small farms using cage culture supply livebaits to the sports fishing industry. Additionally, opencage-culture farms provide fingerlings to other inland fish farmsthereby boosting the agriculture and fish farming in general(ISU 2009).
Increasedaquaculture activities in the region pose a great risk to theenvironment. Cage-cultureallows high density fish population whereby the fish waste poses adanger to the environment.Fish waste feeds a certain type of bacteria that produces phosphorousas a toxic waste. The high phosphate content on the other hand leadsto eutrophication and decreases oxygen levels in water (hypoxia).Eutrophication is a natural response by the ecosystem to highphosphate content in water which is characterized by growth of toxicalgae and bacteria that makes water unsafe for agriculture, domesticuse and also affects the ecosystem (Stransky, n.d.).
Increasedaquaculture practices in the lake region will impact on sportsfishing activities.Since the introduction of new fish species in the lakes in the 1950’sto support sports fishing, the region has benefited from billions ofdollars from domestic and international tourism. Cage-culture willhinder these tourism activities (Paeyetts,2014).Additionally,cage culture will hinder and obstruct smooth navigation on thewaters.The waters are an essential transport system for industries aroundthe lakes mostly dealing in steel, automobile and coal. It is alsovery clear that fish pens are suited in deep waters close to thechore which are suited for recreational water sports and fishing (ISU2009).
Fromthe issues discussed above, it is clear that the concerns againstcage culture can be amicably addressed. I believe that the countrycannot afford to oppose this new fish farming method based on theseissues. The water currents in the lakes can clear the waste from fishand create a natural balance similar to the wild waters. As such, Ipersonally support these farms as they will ensure availability ofseafood at local supermarkets and food outlets at an affordable priceand create jobs for thousands in a struggling economy.
ISU(2009). Managing Iowa Fisheries Cage Fish Culture. Retrieved from
Payette,P. (2014). Debate ongoing over fish farming in the Great Lakes.
Hayse-Gregson,K. & Kempke, S. (n.d.) Aquaculturein Michigan.University of Michigan,
Schoolof Natural Resources. Retrieved from
Stransky,M., Joyce, N., Ferons, D., & Johnson, J. (n.d.). Consof aquaculture.Retrieved from