When Cultured Fish Tastes as Good as the Wild

The planet can only support so much number of mouths; this is the basic concept of “carrying capacity.” As the global population grows, food gets scarcer, especially the ones derived from natural sources. Early in human history, humans learned this lesson and so they learned how to “culture” food products in land and in the waters.

Fish is an important part of the human diet. Simply relying on fishing from the seas and inland waters is not enough.  A check on the current world population would show it has reached over 7 billion and it’s still growing. This is the basic premise that is fuelling the motivation to increase fish production through aquaculture.

Do not forget that eating fish is healthy. If you care for your health, read what Necia Wilden, a Food Editor in Melbourne, has to say about “Nine reasons to eat more fish” that is posted in The Australian – Executive Living.

fishLike it or view it like a Luddite, fish farming is here to stay. Aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing primary industry and there is now more seafood farmed than red meat: at the World Aquaculture conference held earlier this month in Adelaide, it was estimated that for the first time the value of Australian aquaculture has overtaken that of the wild-catch industry.

The four-day conference hosted 2000 delegates from 70 countries. On one level, it was a talkfest for a fledgling industry starting to move beyond dog-paddle; on another, it was a powerful argument for the importance — individual, local and global — of increasing our consumption of seafood. Wild-catch is great, of course: no fish farmer will deny that, though they might point out there ain’t enough to go round. But whether farmed or wild, here are nine reasons to eat more fish.

  1. Get With the Strength:

Fish is the world’s most traded protein, and it’s twice the size of the coffee trade. It had an estimated export value of $US136 billion last year…. And it will be even more important in future. As World Aquaculture Society president Graham Mair points out … aquaculture will be pivotal to global food security.

  1. Health:

…  in a report by the High Level Panel of Experts to the UN Committee on World Food Security: the case for obtaining your essential omega-3 fatty acids from fish just keeps getting stronger … in light of increasing evidence of neurodevelopmental benefits from eating fish, the US Food and Drug Administration has revised its dietary recommendations to encourage pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and young children to eat more of it…

  1. We were meant to eat it:

… As a Scientific American article, “When the Sea Saved Humanity”, reveals, when the number of breeding humans crashed to about 600 in five locations across Africa, it was seafood and root vegetables that helped us survive, not steak.

  1. It tastes better:

Of course, we’d all like to eat wild fish … Fact is, thanks to advances in aquaculture combined with a more focused approach to eating quality, the best farmed fish in Australia is emulating those desirable wild-caught characteristics of flavour and texture.

  1. Dementia prevention:

In Don’t Miss the Bus … from the University of California, South Australian author Rex J. Lipman names a list of a dozen “Gold Medal” food groups vital to maintaining brain health and preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s. The only animal products on the list are fish — specifically salmon, trout and sardines — and dairy foods.

Other Benefits and Reasons to eat fish:fish

  • Get rid of your extra pounds: You need not look too far… eat fish instead of other meat. The author of “Lean Forever: The Scientific Secrets of Permanent Weight Loss,” Martin Bowerman, spoke at World Aquaculture Adelaide, and said that fish offers more protein for less calorie intake than other meat. This is crucial to a “high-protein weight-loss diet.”
  • Spend less for fish: You don’t need to spend as much when consuming fish. There are a lot of fish varieties that are delicious. Patronize those inexpensive, underrated fish species, such as sardines, albacore tuna, blue mussels, pink snapper, banana prawns, and eastern school whiting.
  • Environment-friendly and sustainable: Following the right aquaculture principles, converting feed to edible protein is straightforward. Certain species, such as the bivalves – oysters, clams and mussels need not be fed at all.
  • Live a longer life: A report from Canada’s aquaculture industry entitled “How Higher Seafood Consumption Can Save Lives” cited a study undertaken by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington. The results revealed that older adults with higher blood levels of fatty acids from fish have a longer longevity that is about 2.2 years longer than their counterparts with lower levels.

The Rising Stars of Australian Aquaculture

The article highlighted Australia’s “rising stars” in aquaculture: Cone Bay, a marine barramundi farm and the Pacific Reef Fisheries at Queensland that grows cobia.

Cone Bay: This is found on Turtle Island at Buccaneer Archipelago. The barramundi raised in this farm bears no traces of the muddy flavor to mar the creamy taste of this high-fat fish. “That’s because they’re living in a wild environment, not a tank,” says Sydney chef Matt Moran.

The Bay produces a yearly harvest of about a thousand tons aimed to be increased to 7000 tons in the coming years to meet Australian        demands for barra. Approximately 50 percent of the current demand is met by importation.

Aussies who want to have a taste of this delightful creamy fish can go to the following restaurants: “Coda and Press Club, Melbourne; North Bondi Fish and Chiswick, Sydney; Press, Adelaide; Urbane and Riverbar, Brisbane; and Vasse Felix, Margaret River, Western Australia.

Pacific Reef Fisheries: This is located in Ayr. Cobia, the “wagyu” of seafood is an endemic Australian fish that is regarded as even better than kingfish with its fat content and being easy to cook. It is so good so that Chef Josh Niland of Sydney’s Fish Face includes it on his menu, the only farmed species in it.

Maria Mitris of the Pacific Reef says the superior quality of their high-protein cobia can be attributed to their artisan standards that call for maintaining a small density on the stocking level of the fish. They also use high-quality feeds that are free of antibiotics and GMOs, and an advanced harvest system.

Sample this cobia in restaurants such as:  “Icebergs, Bucket List and Fish Face, Sydney; Cumulus Up and Cutler & Co, Melbourne; Blackbird, Brisbane; and Ricky’s, Noosa.”

With the right technologies, aquaculture makes a promising strategy to meet human needs for fish, a healthy source of protein and other essential nutrients such as Omega-3 oil. By the standards that these rising stars follow, it is easy to conclude that the quality of the harvest can be at par with those harvested from the wilds. If chefs find them superior in quality, foodies and the general population should have no trouble making aquaculture harvests a regular part of their daily diet.

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