Naked Scientists Podcast

Naked Scientists episode

Sat, 14th May 2011

Wet But Not Wild - Farming Fish

Workers harvest catfish from the Delta Pride Catfish farms in Mississippi. (c) Ken Hammond

We cast our nets wide this week to catch the science of aquaculture or fish farming!  We'll find out how farming marine life can reduce reliance on disappearing wild stocks, and explore the effect on the local environment.  Also, how recycled fish poo and waste water can help repair damaged wetlands, and in Naked Engineering we find out how robotic fish can keep tabs on pollution in ports.

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 01:25 - Bespoke Proteins Bind ‘Flu

    Researchers in Seattle and Washington have solved an “enormous jigsaw puzzle” to design two novel proteins that bind to a protein found in influenza viruses, proving that computer designed proteins are feasible and could form the basis of new drugs and biosensors.

  • 04:28 - Uncovering a whale shark extravaganza

    The world's largest aggregation of whale sharks has been found off the Mexican coast

  • 07:28 - Lasers Identify Key Molecular Structure in Tumours

    Using lasers and over 100,000 hours of computing time, researchers have exposed the previously unknown molecular shape of epidermal growth factor receptors, EGFRs, which are known to be involved in the development of cancer...

  • 13:54 - Immune Roadblock to Stem Cell Treatment

    Stem cells may be rejected by the animals they first came from, according to research published in the journal Nature this week. This could be a huge stumbling block in the use of induced stem cells for therapy.

  • 16:58 - Planet Earth Online - Sediment Cores Tell History of the Thames

    Wading into a river and digging until you get to the slime, soil, dirt and other matter at the bottom may not be everyone’s idea of a good day out - but, in the right hands, a core of river sediment can become an eye-opening time machine into the past...

  • 22:03 - The Pros and Cons of Aquaculture

    If you’ve been shopping for a fish supper lately you’ve almost certainly been offered both farmed and wild fish. Fish farms are found all over the world, and can be a really good way of reducing reliance on wild stock, but there are also some very real environmental concerns......

  • 34:02 - Reusing Fish Poo

    Aquaculture isn’t restricted to the oceans – many aquatic organisms can actually be farmed on land. This is potentially good news for reducing the environmental impacts of aquaculture because all the byproducts can be contained, including large amounts of solid waste and enrich...

  • 41:06 - Naked Engineering - Robotic Fish

    Fish have developed an extremely efficient way of locomotion, so researchers are trying to emulate fish for novel ways of monitoring the oceans...

  • 51:55 - Does the music at Sea World bother the whales?

    I have a question that I was hoping that you might be able to address. It occured to me during a recent visit to Sea World in San Diego California.  I was sitting there enjoying the whale show with its whale tricks and loud music and thought that the music was very loud.  I wa...



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It seems that aquaculture is the only real solution to overfishing. Cod is in short supply, but that does not stop UK consumers from being able to buy it in fish and chips shops and supermarkets. So many European countries, Spain for example, have an insatiable appetite for fish, and that is not going to slow down.  If farmers can find a way of safely culturing the fish and avoiding the transfer of sea-lice and depleting fish supplies to feed other fish, then it looks like a good alternative to wild fishing. daniel.pearce1904, Thu, 6th Oct 2011

Aquaculture may seem like a cruel method of culturing aquatic animals but in reality, most of the food we eat do come from terrestrially farmed animals (such as chicken, pigs, and cows).  Without even considering the pros and cons of aquaculture, the benefits alone are worthy enough to continue with the industry.  Not only does it create more job opportunities but also increases seafood supply for directed consumers.  Some people may argue that aquaculture can lead to the extinction of some types or breeds of aquatic creatures but they don't realize that those in the business of aquaculture are the ones responsible for keeping those breeds alive to this very day.  I can definitely say so myself coming from a family whose business centers around aquatic life. venizia.pongsathaporn, Fri, 7th Oct 2011

After listening to the interview it is clear that aquaculture has both it's benefits and it's drawbacks. Though the benefits seem to out way the drawbacks, there will always be people who pay more attention to the cons rather than the pros. This can create great conflict between people, but hopefully once the problems that rise due to aquaculture are successfully solved, culturing fish will be approved of by most of the people who currently seem to disapprove of it, which will reduce conflict. People will also start to realise that culturing fish has it's advantages for both people and fish. Maymayt, Sat, 8th Oct 2011

Since aquaculture provides people with more fish to eat I don’t think that it is beneficial. Firstly people don’t care about environment thus cause pollution. Nowadays no matter what we eat contains chemicals and animal based products are at the top of the list. Even if companies suggest that their farms are used to clean the chemicals out of fish, chance of getting a disease remains the same. As Kenny claims the risk of causing an epidemic relies on the number of fish cultured. If we encourage culturing fish we will also encourage creating diseases and becoming infected. There are many vegetables that contain nutrition we need. Instead of culturing animals we should focus on eating healthy food. Secondly altering the genetics of fish is not ethical. We o whatever we want to without caring the causes. Nature responds in many different ways just because we are changing the things we don’t like. We can not put a gene into a fish which will cause death. Animals belong to their original places we shouldn’t be putting them into cages and control them. Even worse we can not punish them with a death sentence just because they try to go back to nature. buse, Sun, 9th Oct 2011

It seems that the benefits of aquaculture and fish-farms outweigh the negative impacts of it. Aquaculture eases the process of capturing fish, which would usually mean that the prices of fish should drop. Fish stock is expensive in the market because of the effort needed to hunt them. With rising fuel prices and an environmental concern over climate change caused by motors' exhaust waste, initiating a fish farm would make it easier for fishermen to have a sense of security over their day's catch. Even though lice can infiltrate a fish farm easily, keeping the fish close would aid the fishermen in inspecting the quality of the fish growing so that consumers can rest knowing that the fish they are eating is healthy and disease-free. Ahmed Al Ahmadi, Tue, 11th Oct 2011

Aquaculture supplies more fish for people to eat and reduce the consumption of wild fish which grow in a no artificial environment. This method protects the rare species fish and slows down the extinction of those species. And they also need the high technology to keep the tasty of the fish and prove that it would not lead to some disease by eating this kind of fish, which create more job opportunities and improve the research in health. However, farmed fish still consume the nutrients and water as same as the nature ones, they may also occupy some certain things which nature fish shorted. At the end, the wild fish will also die out because of the farmed fish. yiyan.chen, Tue, 11th Oct 2011

Aquaculture may seem cruel to most people, when in fact is it a mild way of getting fish. It reduces the trade of seafood, which in turn reduces overfishing which may cause the endangerment of certain fish. It is a smart way to keep most fish around nowadays.  This also reduces the pressure of fishing for a certain type of fish since they can be cultured in a fish farm, such as salmon. Salmon is seen as a luxury food, and is therefore high in demand. The culturing of the salmon would make it available at all times. Aquaculture has also given way to the idea of biofuel, which is generated from the culturing of microalgae, which has been something that people want to invest in due to the rise in fuel prices. Aquaculture seems to be beneficial for everyone. taliatantawy93, Wed, 12th Oct 2011

With the growing demands by human beings,it seems like that the only solution to over-fishing is the aquaculture.But in my opinion,it still remains some problems to solve.Let's assume that there is a large quantity of fish of one species being fed in a small area.The concentration of the waste they produce will increase gradually which could lead some diseases to fish,and the diseases will spread quickly among the fish because of the lack of space. What is more serious is that there is no need for them to worry about food and their natural enemy which may even cause the degradation of this species that they can't survive in the wild any more. yk, Sun, 16th Oct 2011

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