Fish-Farming — A sad “solution” to an unnecessary problem

Time reports on the “last wild food” of the human race.

A little longer than our short daily posts, this is one you need to read carefully. It’s all about fish and how our appetite for them has damaged the fragile harmony of our planet. This post was inspired by this article:

The cover story of the July 18 issue of Time Magazine is all about FISH. The article by Bryan Walsh is entitled “The End of the Line” and is loaded with some compelling information about the rapidly declining availability of our ” last wild food.”

Mr. Walsh does a great job of describing a desperate situation of pollution, cost, and unsustainability…as the great minds of the Western world try to solve the problem of providing enough “healthy animal protein” for a growing, more affluent, human population. But like 95% of the writers, doctors and nutritional scientists in the Western world, this great writer misses the main point:

Humans do not “need” to eat animals or fish. In fact, that very “animal protein” that we think we “need,” is killing us.

Our desperate search for protein should not be desperate at all; we can get all the protein that we need from whole plants — while avoiding disease, nurturing the environment, saving fossil fuels, feeding more people on a fraction of the land acreage and ending the suffering of sixty billion animals a year that we think we “need” to eat for their protein.

But 95% percent of our population has not yet learned this well-proven truth. They still think we “need” that protein. Hence, the main thrust of the Time article is the conclusion that fish farms (aquaculture) is the ONLY solution for humankind in order to provide our “needed” protein. But there are a lot of problems with those so-called “farms.” From the article:

Thousands of one-third-pound barramundi — an omnivorous fish native to Southeast Asia and Australia — swim in a 36-ft.-diameter tank (in Massachusetts) that resembles a supersize kiddie pool…The assembly line runs until the barramundi have been raised to market weight, about 2 lb., after which they’re sent off to white-tablecloth seafood restaurants and sustainability-minded retail outlets across the U.S.

Bill Clinton making a point about his “plant-based” diet to Wolf Blitzer on CNN. You can see this video on the Video tab of this website.

All of this madness begins with our perceived “need” for animal protein — despite overwhelming proof that we don’t need ANY of it. On that note, let’s consider:

  • We now have a former president of the United States who is consuming close to zero animal protein. Why is the news media not examining his diet and why are they not worried about his impending death from acute protein deficiency?
  • There are over ten million vegetarians in the United States who consume zero animal protein, yet we have never heard of a single one of them dying from a lack of protein.
  • Prominent physicians Caldwell Esselstyn of The Cleveland Clinic and Dean Ornish of UC San Francisco have proven that heart disease (our #1 killer) can be reversed in 95% of the cases — without eating ANY animal protein. In fact, they say it’s the animal protein that’s causing the heart disease in the first place.
  • Many other medical doctors (included in our book) have had similar success in reversing over 90% of their type 2 diabetes cases — again with ZERO animal protein in the diet.

Given all of the above, it is desperately frustrating to continue see brilliant people, like the many experts in this article, continue to be obsessed with solving a problem that never need exist. The great minds of the Western world continue blindly down the path of promoting the continuation of the most harmful, wasteful, and unsustainable diet-style in the history of the world.

Most people think of fish-farming as a “green” way to produce protein for humans; those people need to learn more about what’s really happening.

A link to the full article appears below, but here are a few quotes (italics) that I pulled for your convenience. As you read through them, keep in mind that all of this madness is totally unnecessary: 

  • Overfishing, disruption of the fragile harmony of nature on our planet — all so we can eat “animal protein” that we don’t need: The U.N. reports that 32% of global fish stocks are overexploited or depleted and as much as 90% of large species like tuna and marlin have been fished out in the past half-century…A recent report by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean found that the world’s marine species faced threats “unprecedented in human history.”
  • Our global appetite for fish; the “big picture.” The worldwide catch seems to have plateaued at about 90 million tons a year since the mid-1990s. That’s a lot of fish, but even if those levels prove sustainable, it’s not enough to keep up with global seafood consumption, which has risen from 22 lb. per person per year in the 1960s to nearly 38 lb. today.
  • Growing population, more people wanting to eat animal protein, over-fished oceans: With hundreds of millions of people joining the middle class in the developing world and fish increasingly seen as a tasty and heart-healthy form of protein, that trend will continue. The inescapable conclusion: there just isn’t enough seafood in the seas.
  • In less than sixty years, fish-farming has grown over 50-fold: Global aquacultural production increased from less than 1 million tons in 1950 to 52.5 million tons in 2008.
  • Fish farms are nothing new; and they’re a much bigger part of our food supply than most people think: Today about half the seafood consumed around the world comes from farms, and with the projected rise in global seafood consumption, that proportion will surely increase.
  • Because most of the farmed fish need to be fed other fish: By one count, about 2 lb. of wild fish ground up to make fish meal is needed on average to produce 1 lb. of farmed fish, which leaves the ocean at a net loss.
  • The author acknowledges that the era of eating wild fish may be over, leaving us “little choice” but to farm, which includes genetic engineering: And perhaps most of all, we need to accept that on a planet with a population of nearly 7 billion and climbing, we may no longer be able to indulge our taste for the last wild food. We’ve farmed the land. Now we have little choice but to farm the sea as well…We may even need to genetically engineer popular species to make them grow faster and bigger. 
  • Late in the article, the author reinforces our “need” for eating fish: At the same time, it’s important to look at the big picture. For health reasons, most of us should be eating more fish. For its new dietary guidelines, the U.S. government just upped the recommended consumption of seafood to 8 oz. or more a week — which is more than twice what the average American eats — and 12 oz. for pregnant women. 
  • In conclusion, another “authoritative voice” weighs in on our critical “need” for having fish in our diet: In a report this month, the U.N. said global food production would need to increase by as much as 100% by 2050 to meet growing demand — and seafood, as a vital protein source, will have to be part of that. Farming is unavoidable. “There may be a price split between expensive wild fish and cheaper farmed fish,” says Don Perkins, head of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. “But seafood consumption will spread because we need it for health reasons.”
  • But all of this comes with a price: A badly run near-shore farm of 200,000 salmon can flush nitrogen and phosphorus into the water at levels equal to the sewage from a town of 20,000 people….As production pressures have ramped up, Chinese manufacturers have packed their ponds more tightly, leading to disease and pollution from fish waste. That waste can overload coastal waters with nutrients, causing dead zones that can strangle sea life. To fight the diseases worsened by crowding, Chinese fish farmers have liberally used antibiotics and other drugs, including malachite green, an antifungal agent and potential carcinogen that was banned by Beijing in 2002 but shows up periodically in exports. “It is still a problem,” says Wong Ming Hung, a biology professor at Hong Kong Baptist University.

That last paragraph, and many more like it throughout the article, can literally make you sick — especially when you can consider that all of the above is so unnecessary. After talking about more and more issues with aquaculture, things like the GMO “Frankenfish,” carcinogens, pollution, dead zones, etc — the article ends with this lame conclusion:

But if we’re all going to survive and thrive in a crowded world, we’ll need to cultivate the seas just as we do the land. If we do it right, aquaculture can be one more step toward saving ourselves. And if we do it well, we may even enjoy the taste of it.

J. Morris Hicks, “the big picture guy” ppromoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth — SO SIMPLE yet so DIFFICULT.

I say NO, NO, NO! All of the above is completely unhealthy, unsustainable and grossly unnecessary. I am reminded of the words of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn regarding another huge — yet unnecessary — problem that we humans have created,

“Heart disease is a toothless paper tiger that need never exist.”

Likewise, we continue to wreak incalculable damage on ourselves AND our planet in our never-ending effort to provide that “vital animal protein” for the human race.

Want to be part of the solution? Please take a look at our 4-Leaf page, take charge of your own health and become an active participant in the grassroots revolution to end this madness — before it’s too late. For your convenience, here are two recent posts on this same topic.

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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1 Response to Fish-Farming — A sad “solution” to an unnecessary problem

  1. Leo M. schwaiger says:

    Recently an article stated that some farmed fish broke out of their confined area and swam into the open sea. Seals in the area who usually ate that species would not eat the farm-raised fish. Maybe they could sense a difference in the composition of the fish, similar to the rejection of GMO feeds by farm and wild animals.

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