Seas At Risk Spanish member ENT Foundation, highlights Carrefour’s decision tostop selling imported Pangasius in Spain due to negative environmental impacts of aquaculture practices in Southeast Asia. Pangasious is not the only product produced in intensive aquaculture with significant socio-environmental impacts.
In February of this year, the supermarket chain Carrefour announced that it would stop selling Pangasius in its supermarkets across Spain. Carrefour stated: "Given the doubts that exist about the adverse impact of Pangasius farms on the environment, we have decided to stop selling this fish."
This created a great opportunity for the Spanish media to finally talk about seafood consumption and report on the socio-environmental impacts generated by some of today's production systems and consumption habits. However, the media focussed once again only on our health, omitting that many other species generate as much or more damage to the environment as the Pangasius production does, and not that our current consumption model is clearly unsustainable.
In a period of ten years, Pangasius has become one of the most commercialized seafood products in the world, due to its fast growth rate and low production costs. Today, the majority of Pangasius that is sold in Spain comes from intensive aquaculture farms in Southeast Asia where Pangasius is cultured in shocking densities of up to 120kg of fish per cubic meter.
This raises great animal welfare and environmental concerns, as organic material from feed and fish waste builds up on the riverbed, as well as chemicals and drugs added to the water to fight fish diseases negatively impact the aquatic ecosystems. Doubts arise about the quality of fish produced and the impact on the consumers’ health.
In Spain, where the seafood consumption is 42.4 kilos per person per year -well above the European average (24.9 kg) and worldwide (18.9 kg)- overfishing continues to be an endemic problem. Especially in the Mediterranean where over 93% of fish stocks are overfished, making it a highly deficient country in seafood products and therefore highly unsustainable in this regard.
Spain thus dependends on foreign imports to meet domestic demand for fish. This creates an international trading system with a high carbon footprint, in which Spain ranks as the third world importer and ninth exporter, placing panga as the flagship product of imports.
However, ENT highlights that panga is not the only product produced in intensive aquaculture related to significant socio-environmental impacts. Other products such as salmon, Nile perch, or shrimp farmed in Ecuador, Thailand or Indonesia, for example, are also associated with critically environmental impacts. It is time to seriously consider the consequences of the Spanish consumption and production model and to shift attention to the conservation of our natural resources.
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