Farmed fish have a controversial reputation. Some regard them as giant polluters that breed bacteria and harm their wild brethren, while others view farms as the only option for those who want to eat seafood and a good thing when responsibly managed.
When dining out, it can be difficult to find out where your fish came from, and if it was from a farm, how that farm is managed.
Producers are hoping a new organic label will help.
A federal advisory board has approved criteria that clear the way for farmed fish to be labeled organic, according to a Washington Post article.
The action has pleased aquaculture producers, but not environmentalists and consumer advocates, according to the article.
One issue is that farmed fish are fed wild fish. The new standards set forth by the National Organic Standards Board would still allow farms to use feed made from wild fish but it cannot exceed 25 percent of the total, and cannot come from forage species, whose numbers have declined due to the increase in fish farms.
But other organic animals are required to be fed 100 percent organic feed, prompting groups such as the Center for Food Safety to question the farmed fish standards, which would be the basis for regulations issued by the Agriculture Department.
Some worry that the proposed label will compromise the definition of organic. George Leonard, a marine ecologist and aquaculture director for the Ocean Conservancy, is quoted in the article: "This is a good example in which the devil is in the details. There is a very real risk that the decision could undermine consumers' confidence in the organic label if the goal of sustainable and environmentally friendly fish does not play out in practice."
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