For the first time in the history of the world, the planet's farmed fish production has topped beef production. This news comes from the Earth Policy Institute (EPI), an environmental think-tank.
Writing about this arguably monumental event, Janet Larsen and J. Matthew Roney for EPI, said that figures show this event passed sometime in 2011. Larsen and Roney said the gap widened in 2012 and is continuing to widen. Farmed fish accounted for 66 million tons of food in 2012, while 63 million tons of beef was produced that year.
A reason for this is the rising prices of grain and soybeans making it more expensive to raise cattle for consumption. While there is widespread opposition to aquaculture, it is less expensive than raising beef and consumers are increasingly turning to it.
"Cattle consume seven pounds of grain or more to produce an additional pound of beef," Larsen and Roney write. "Fish are far more efficient, typically taking less than two pounds of feed to add another pound of weight."
Wild fish and "natural boundaries"
The catch of wild fish for 2012 was 90 million tons, and is beginning to fall. For a variety of reasons, such as fishing-out areas and expense, EPI does see the day farmed fish production will exceed wild fish catches. It may come sooner than later.
The think-tank believes this is all part of a trend in human food consumption that is leading us toward greater food shortages. EPI does have a solution, but it's not one easily achieved.
"To live within Earth’s natural boundaries requires rethinking meat and fish production practices to respect ecology," Larsen and Rooney write. "Most important, it means reducing demand by slowing population growth and, for those of us already living high on the food chain, eating less meat, milk, eggs, and fish."