Directions: Read the following passage carefully. Then answer questions 1-6.
Will Fish Farming Save Our Oceans?
1). Only in the last few decades have people become aware that the ocean’s teeming bounty is not, in fact, boundless. Until recently, almost all of the seafood eaten worldwide was harvested directly from the wild. People depended on the natural abundance and resilience of the oceans, rivers, and lakes. But as the human population has boomed, the need for fish as a food resource has also grown. For billions of people, fish are a primary source of protein. In some nations, such as the United States, where fish has traditionally made up only a small portion of the average diet, fish is seen as a healthier alternative to beef and pork. Around the world, the demand for seafood is on the rise.
2). However, we can no longer rely on wild-caught seafood, as we have in the past. Overfishing, pollution, and loss of habitat have strained wild fish populations. There is now an urgent need for alternatives. One of these is aquaculture or fish farming. But this solution is not without controversy
What Is Aquaculture?
3). Aquaculture means "farming or cultivating the water." The idea of farming fish is certainly not new. Like agriculture, it has been practiced since ancient times. But it was not until the 1960s and 1970s that aquaculture became a significant part of global production. It now accounts for more than 40 percent of the world’s seafood.
4). There are two basic types of aquaculture. The first is extensive aquaculture. Extensive aquaculturists set up their farms in oceans or bays, and natural currents keep the farm’s water clean and full of oxygen. Oysters, mussels, and clams are raised this way, but so are some large finfish, such as salmon and tuna. How do the farmers prevent their mobile crops from escaping into the ocean? The fish are kept in cages or “net pens” that are anchored to the ocean floor and can be densely stocked for higher production.
5). The other type of aquaculture is intensive. Freshwater fish such as catfish, tilapia, and carp are some of the species grown by intensive methods. This form of aquaculture relies on man-made ponds and advanced technology. One intensive fish farm in California grows 5 million pounds of tilapia per year in the middle of the desert! Enormous greenhouses with solar-heated tanks mimic the Tilapia’s natural environment. An advanced computer system removes waste, maintains temperature and oxygen levels, and feeds the fish on a regular schedule. An average-sized tilapia farm may have more than 200,000 fish in the tanks at any time.
6). Aquaculture seems to offer many advantages over traditional fishing. For one thing, fish farms might be able to reduce the pressure on wild fish populations. Also, some types of seafood are usually available in certain seasons only. Thanks to farms, these delicacies are available year-round. With careful breeding, farmers have produced “domesticated” fish that are fast-growing and made-to-order. Now restaurants can plan menus knowing that fish of a certain kind and size will always be delivered. Reliable production has reduced the prices of many kinds of fish, making them more accessible as an everyday food.
7). All this spells good news for the consumer. Aquaculture also seems to be good for developing nations. For example, on Zanzibar, an island off the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, seaweed raised by aquaculture has become the leading export. Researchers are now developing techniques to add finfish and shellfish to this production. Local fish farms can provide more job opportunities and make cheaper seafood available to islanders and for export.
8). But aquaculture’s supposed advantages may be too good to be true. Fish farms may not be any healthier for the environment. The fish produced in farms must be fed. Their food is made from smaller species of “trash” fish, such as herring and anchovies, which are harvested directly from the ocean, further taxing wild fisheries. It takes two pounds of fish food to produce one pound of farmed fish–not a very economical ratio, to say the least!
9). Also, hundreds of thousands of fish are crammed together in these floating feedlots, as opponents call them. Fish farms create a lot of waste in the form of uneaten food, feces, dead fish, and chemicals. In extensive fish farming, this waste is flushed by the current into the surrounding ocean and bay, where it may affect the ecosystem in strange ways. Intensive fish farmers often dump the waste from their artificial ponds and tanks into nearby waterways.
10). Fish farms not only affect the environment; they may also harm communities. The prospects for fish farming in the developing world seem promising. But the example of shrimp aquaculture in Southeast Asia casts doubts on its benefits for local residents. In Thailand and Vietnam, aquaculture has impaired rice farming, a traditional and far more efficient means of food production. Shrimp farms use up valuable freshwater and land resources vital to rice farmers, and the waste released into the environment has polluted water and farmland. Contrary to the hopeful claims of aquaculture advocates, the shrimp produced by these farms is not used to feed local populations cheaply. Instead, they are sold at high prices to the United States and other industrialized nations as luxury items.
11). Although there are compelling reasons to pursue aquaculture, it has created a whole new set of problems. With careful regulations and management, fish farms may eventually become the ideal solution to depleted fisheries. Still, there is much work to be done before this alternate source of seafood is truly sustainable.
Question 1). Based on what you have read in the passage, which of these questions requires further evidence for support?
What are the current methods of aquaculture?
What are the reasons for the reduction of fish in the wild?
What are some types of fish harvested through aquaculture?
What are some ways to limit the negative effects of fish farming?