Kona Kampachi - 60 Times Less Impact on Stocks than Wild-Caught Fish

Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:05pm EDT

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Sustainable Aquaculture Can Meet Growing Demand Amid Depleted Fish Stocks
KONA, Hawaii--(Business Wire)--
Kona Blue Water Farms released an analysis that demonstrates sustainably
maricultured fish actually have 60 times less ecological footprint on the ocean
than wild-caught fish. Kona Blue`s analysis supports the recent recommendation
from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that called for an increase
in fish farming amid falling wild populations and increasing fisheries closures,
such as west coast rockfish, Gulf grouper, and the impending restrictions on red

"If we examine the true environmental cost of wild-caught predatory fish -- such
as swordfish or tuna -- we find sustainably maricultured fish have some 60 times
less impact on fish stocks at the base of the food chain, such as sardines and
anchovies," said Neil Anthony Sims, President of Kona Blue. The leading offshore
mariculture operation in the U.S., Kona Blue raises sashimi-grade Kona Kampachi,
a Hawaiian yellowtail, off the coast of Hawaii. 

"What would ocean-conscious consumers rather have on their plates?" asked Sims.
"One pound of Kona Kampachi, or one sixtieth of a pound of tuna? The impact on
the oceans is about the same." 

Sims bases this estimate on three primary considerations. First, aquaculture is
continually moving towards sustainable substitutes in farmed fish diets to
lessen reliance on fishmeal and fish oil. Kona Blue`s current feed formulation
includes only 35% fishmeal/fish oil from wild baitfish, of which approximately
3% is from capture fishery by-product. Contrary to outdated ratios of 5:1 or
higher quoted by some environmental groups, the current ratio of "wild fish in
to farmed fish out" has fallen to approximately 1.5:1 (1.5 lbs. of anchovies
producing 1 lb. of sashimi-grade farmed fish). 

By contrast, wild fish are subject to the laws of trophic transfer, where only
10% of their prey`s food value is transferred up each step of the food chain.
"If a tuna eats a mackerel that earlier ate an anchovy, then there are two
trophic steps, compounding the costs," said Sims. "A tuna may therefore need to
eat the equivalent of 100 pounds of baitfish to increase its weight by one
pound." As the fishmeal/fish oil for farmed fish feed involves only one
efficient step, trophic transfer loss is minimized. 

Secondly, Sims points out that farmed fish have a life cycle that is estimated
to be three to ten times more efficient than wild predatory fish, since they are
harvested at a young age, after their most efficient growth, and do not expend
energy reproducing or competing to survive in the wild. 

The last consideration is by-catch, or those unwanted fish caught by commercial
fisheries that are discarded as unsaleable, undersized, or over quota. Some
fisheries generate up to eleven pounds of by-catch for every pound that is
retained. Experts estimate that almost 30% of the global wild harvest is
discarded. Farmed fish have no by-catch, as only fish in the pens are harvested,
and the schools of baitfish that go into fish feed rarely have any extraneous

"With these considerations," said Sims, "we`ve estimated that one pound of our
farmed Kona Kampachi requires an environmental input of close to one pound of
anchovies. A one pound serving of wild-caught tuna, however, would require
around 60 pounds of baitfish." 

Sims asserted that responsible open ocean mariculture is a key solution to the
depletion of ocean resources, but cautioned, "We still need to ensure rational,
effective management of baitfish resources, and take into account ecosystem

Kona Blue Water Farms
Kelly Coleman, 808-331-1188, ext.108

Copyright Business Wire 2009

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