A recent edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme (11 September) Costing the Earth is most enlightening. The Chinese used to buy vast amounts of farmed salmon from Norway. When the Nobel peace prize was given to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese government retaliated by putting up trade barriers that resulted in Norwgian salmon rotting in warehouses. Scotland could be the beneficiaries of this.
This is an example of the way that politicians play around with the world's food supply. It is quite disgusting that this should happen. The same thing could happen to Scotland.
Later on in this programme Andrew Robertson has a company Fish From and is hoping to start salmon farming. He said this:-
"You have to understand that in the next 18 years, the United Nations have identified that there is going to be a huge shortfall in aquaculture-produced food. And unless it grows by 60 million tonnes there is going to be absolutely a shortfall of nutrition. Now in 2050 when there's 9 billion people or so on the planet there isn't going to be a way of feeding these people without innovative ways of growing high-quality nutrition. And that's really one of the most sentient points of what we're trying to achive here."
This is exactly the sort of nonsensical justification of fish farming and factory farming that we have heard many times before. Pretending that we need their technology in order to 'feed the world' but in reality they are making it worse. If you feed salmon or pigs on anchovies, soya or maize then you are wasting both protein and calories. People can eat anchovies, soya and maize, and by feeding these to farmed fish or farm animals you are removing the food supply of poor people to feed the affluent of the world. Fish farming and factory farming are part of the problem of world hunger and are not part of the solution.
I didn't realize that a lot of seabass is farmed. Supermarkets want their seabass almost perfectly plate sized, but these are immature fish. It is supposed to be illegal to catch seabass under 32 inches in the wild. But I have seen seabass recently in a fishmonger's that looks smaller than that and was labeled 'wild seabass'.
The New Economics Foundation have produced a report that says if we stopped fishing for a few years, fish stocks would improve so much that we could make a much bigger profit in the long term. Barry Deas - chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations (NFFO) - has argued against the proposal though. He said we are already moving towards maximum sustainable yields. Aniol Esteban, who co-authored the NEF report, said that was like saying "that instead of driving a car over a cliff at 100mph we are driving it at 90mph". He also said "Overfishing is not being tackled for the majority of affected stocks, or at a fast enough pace".
The next edition of Costing the Earth mentioned that vast numbers of farm animals are being slaughtered because animal feed has become more expensive. I think what they mean is that farm animals that are slaughtered are not being replaced; vast numbers of farm animals are being slaughtered every day. This Guardian article has more to say about it. Meat prices are set to increase, but I think that is a good thing.