Sir Bob Geldof, the Irish rock-star turned political activist famed for Live Aid and the charity record "Feed the World", appears to have been drinking the Kool-Aid. His decision to be keynote speaker at the AquaVision 2014 conference in Norway in June is at best ill-informed and at worst represents an alarming endorsement of a global salmon farming industry which is stealing food from the mouths of hungry people in Africa and Latin America.
"According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), current global food production needs to increase 70% by 2050 in order to feed 2 billion additional people," proclaims the press release (29 January) announcing Sir Bob's appearance (following on from the controversial 2012 keynote address of Kofi Annan). "The growth of aquaculture will become an increasingly important part of that future food supply, while paying particular attention to environmental concerns".
"Sir Bob motivates audiences through his own personal experiences, the lessons learned from Live Aid as well as from building successful commercial businesses," crowed Viggo Halseth, COO of salmon farming feed giant Nutreco Aquaculture (one of the conference sponsors). "At the conference we will explore ways in which aquaculture can contribute sustainably to feeding the planet’s growing population."
What Nutreco fails to mention is the fact that industrial aquaculture such as salmon farming is contributing to the world food problem and is quite literally stealing food fish such as anchovies out of the mouths of the hungry in Africa and Latin America to feed to farmed salmon destined for export markets in the United States, Europe and Asia. Scientists have calculated that it can take up to 10 tonnes of wild fish to produce one tonne of farmed salmon (read more via "Salmon Piranha Style").
Fish feed giants Nutreco and Skretting - sponsors of the AquaVision conference in Norway in June - are effectively stealing precious protein and are not feeding the world at all!
Far from being a panacea for overfishing, salmon farming is draining our oceans of wild fish and is exacerbating the problem (for more details read a letter sent by the Green Warriors of Norway to Kofi Annan in 2012 - online here). For more information watch a video - "The Greed of Feed" - from The Ecologist Film Unit online here.
"The salmon we produce is eaten by the mouths of people in the USA and Europe, but the asshole is here in Latin America," explained Juan Carlos Cardenas of Ecoceanos in Chile. "The true cost of the cheap salmon you eat is being paid with the blood of our people and the health of our oceans."
Read more via a factsheet on Feed online here
By speaking at the AquaVision conference, Sir Bob is associating himself with a morally bankrupt and socially repugnant industry. Does Sir Bob really want to feed into the pro-salmon farming media fuelling the myth that salmon farming feeds the world?
Does Sir Bob want his "Feed the World" legacy to be despoiled by being associated with the filthy salmon farming industry?
The Norwegian media have already seized upon Geldof's participation in AquaVision 2014:
And the Norwegian trade press has featured Geldof's participation:
"Our oceans have been the victims of a giant Ponzi scheme, waged with Bernie Madoff–like callousness by the world’s fisheries," said Professor Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia in his 2009 essay 'Aquacalypse Now'. "Some Pollyannas believe that aquaculture, or fish farming, can ensure the health of stocks without government action--a notion supposedly buttressed by FAO statistics showing such rapid growth in aquaculture that more than 40 percent of all “seafood” consumed now comes from farms."
"The problem with this argument is that China reports about 68 percent of the world’s aquaculture production, and the FAO, which has been burned by inflated Chinese statistics before, expresses doubt about its stated production and growth rates. Outside of China--where most farmed fish are freshwater vegetarians, such as carp--aquaculture produces predominately carnivorous marine fish, like salmon, which are fed not only vegetal ingredients, but also fishmeal and fish oil, which are obtained by grinding up herring, mackerel, and sardines caught by “reduction fisheries.” Carnivore farming, which requires three to four pounds of smaller fish to produce one pound of a larger one, thus robs Peter to pay Paul. Aquaculture in the West produces a luxury product in global terms. To expect aquaculture to ensure that fish remain available--or, at least, to expect carnivore farming to solve the problem posed by diminishing catches from fisheries--would be akin to expecting that Enzo Ferrari’s cars can solve gridlock in Los Angeles."
A 2012 presentation - "Role of fish and aquaculture products in human nutrition and global food security" - by Dr. Albert Tacon and Dr. Marc Metian concluded:
Read more background on why the farming of carnivorous fish such as salmon creates environmental and social problems - online here