The Difference

Many people have become wary of “farm raised fish” and rightly so. The United States imports 84% of its seafood. Of this, half
is farm raised.

First, let’s talk about the practices of RAS (Recirculating Aquaculture Systems) at Astor Farms:

Our fish are fed a high protein, soy based feed and are raised in tanks inside of a warehouse
type structure. They are completely isolated from things like mercury, which can be present in
rain waters and surface waters. Unlike wild caught fish and other types of farm raised fish, you
can eat Astor Farms tilapia 365 days per year and never worry about mercury.

Our water circulates through mechanical and biological filtration 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The water our fish live in has less pollutants than just about any water on the surface of the earth. Our systems have virtually no detrimental impact to the surrounding environment.

Now, let’s talk about other practices of aquaculture. The two most widely implemented forms of aquaculture are Pond Culture and Mariculture (nets in the ocean or water ways).

  • In pond culture, waters are not filtered, they are simply aerated to keep fish alive. This means that pond raised fish live their entire life in the same body of water. Their waste and uneaten food simply collects in the water and on the bottom of the pond. The fish continually circulate this fowl water through their system until the day they are harvested.
  • Rain waters and runoff may contain pollutants including mercury and other chemicals, especially in less developed countries. Most of the seafood imported to the United States comes from Asia where the majority of electricity is produced by coal burning and there are very few if any environmental protection regulations. Seafood raised by pond culture and mariculture are exposed to rainwater and runoff. While not an aquaculture product, wild caught seafood is exposed to rainwater and runoff as well. This is why seafood contains mercury.
  • Mariculture can be extremely harmful to the surrounding environment. Large nets or cages are stocked very densely with fish. These farmed fish do get the benefit of clean water to live in, but their waste and uneaten food collect in the waters below the nets overloading the ecosystem. The extra nutrients create alga blooms and the surge in phytoplankton populations can very quickly suffocate all other forms of life in that ecosystem. While this example is not specific to aquaculture, it illustrates the detrimental effects of an alga bloom: