HomeFood & BeverageNot just meat: the impact of intensive farming of sea bass, sea...

Not just meat: the impact of intensive farming of sea bass, sea bream and salmon

Not just meat. In addition to the intensive rearing of pigs, chickens and calves, there is also a fishing industry has a significant impact on environmental sustainability, on food security and on resource exploitation. Pollution of natural paradises and destruction of local economies in various parts of the world. This is the heart of Until the end of the world (Italy, 2024, 58 minutes), the new documentary by the director and journalist Francesco de Augustinis.

Environmental sustainability and intensive agriculture: the connection is there and it shows

After Deforestation Made in Italy And One Earth – Everything is connectedDe Augustinis – who will present doc February 15 at Maxxi-National Museum of 21st Century Art in Rome (18:00) – returns to talk about the relationship between environmental sustainability and intensive agriculture. This time he goes deeper into what’s going on in the aquaculture industry – that is, the farming of aquatic animals – perhaps less (unfortunately) known than that of meat, but no less important in terms of environmental impact and profit.

“The documentary tells about the very rapid expansion of fish farming for the production of salmon, sea bass, sea bream or even shrimp, trout and tuna in different regions of the world – explains the author – during this trip across three continents we came across many different realities and many local communities, each fighting their own battle against the unstoppable growth of this industry, which often threatens their very existence.”

Fruit of a three-year journalistic research projectcreated thanks to the support of Journalismfund.eu and onInternews’ Earth Journalism Networkthe film tells the different stages of a journey through the footsteps of the aquaculture industry to investigate whether this production model really contributes to making the food system more sustainable, as it promises, in the face of a world population that can reach 9.7 billion people in 2050.

Aquaculture numbers

Today it is known that aquaculture is the fastest growing food industry in the world. As early as 2021, globally, the amount of farmed fish produced exceeded that obtained by fishing. Exact numbers when it comes to fish are virtually impossible to determine. However, according to some estimates (Compassion in global agriculture; FishCount) in the world are grown between 40 and 120 billion fishfor an annual production of approx 122.6 million tons (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2022). “If we go back 30 years, aquaculture did not have such a high level of production – says Alessandro Lovatelli, an expert from the FAO’s Aquaculture Department in the film – in the last three decades, however, the industry has continued to grow unabated”.

What is Blue Transformation

The documentary reveals how the exponential growth of aquaculture is no accident, but the result of accurate political will: according to the FAO, the growth of fish farming should be a main component of the so-called «Blue transformation», the UN strategy for increasing world food production with greater use of marine resources. In fact, the documentary explains, this unconditional support for farming salmon, sea bass, sea bream and other fish has gotten out of hand: it actually attracts huge investment in this relatively new industry, which subsequently grew dramatically in various regions of the world. The film therefore shows side effects of this exponential growthwhich is very reminiscent of what happened a few decades ago with intensive agriculture.

The poster of the documentary

A New Resource Colonialism

Starting from sea bass and sea bream farms in the Mediterranean, in Italy, Greece and Spain, the documentary shows the pollution of natural paradisesthe destruction of small local economic networks and the paradoxical competition of this industry with the livelihoods of entire communities, even in vulnerable areas of the planet. Places where production for mass global consumption takes resources away from local livelihoods. “The idea of ​​the documentary is also to tell and connect the events of different communities that in different parts of the world are fighting against the growth of fish farms – adds De Augustinis – from Italy, to Greece, from Spain to Senegal, to the once pristine waters of Chilean Patagonia, the film tells the story of an eternal conflict for resources related to the huge growth of this industry .” The picture that emerges is very reminiscent of a certain form of “colonialism,” a word that is repeated for different reasons at different points in the film. In fact, the documentary shows how this industry depends from the capture of natural resources, whether it is parts of the sea that will be transformed into productive areas or vast quantities of fish that will be turned into food for other fish.

Until the end of the world

The over-dependence on fishing, in a scenario where over half of marine species are already fished above safe levelsdrives industry to demand “new solutions” for feed production and feed more and more fish in the farms. The story of one of these alternative solutions takes the viewer, in the last part of the documentary, “to the end of the world”, among the icy waters around Antarctica. It is one of the most symbolic places on the planet, whose survival today is in question is seriously debated by climate change. But Antarctica, as we will discover, has to cope too the constant demand for raw materials to fuel the unabated growth of the fish farming industry.

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Source: VanityFair

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