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Is feeding farmed fishes with insects really the better way?

I am very happy to read this article from Lewis Bollard who was able to put my thoughts in proper and well documented words.

Insect-based (fish) feed sounds similar to the weird dream of “ecologically" replacing fuel by woodchips for heating or soy and corn in car traffic—what about the trees and the forests? One could maybe discuss sincerely about replacing meat and fish dishes by insects, but still, it's industrially farming and killing animals, and even in billions and billions of individuals (far more individuals than the 500 millions of wild fishes caught per year and reduced to fish meal and oil to feed farmed fishes)—while there is growing evidence of personality in invertebrates, calling for attention for their welfare. Even if I am not a hardcore vegan, the manner leading people claim to “replace” animal-based food by just “lower” animals lets me stand there with open mouth…

Here come some few excerpts of Lewis Bollard's article to make you curious.
The full text is accessible here:

The Promise and Perils of Insect Farming"

*Insect farming is on the rise. Recent news stories have touted insects as “a six-legged solution to world hunger”, “the next sustainable food revolution” ), and “the future of food”. Insect protein is increasingly promoted alongside plant-based and cultivated meat as a green alternative to conventional meat."

"Insects are also unlikely to reduce the number of fish caught for fishmeal, because demand vastly outstrips supply. Depleted fisheries have capped fishmeal supply at 7-7 m tonnes/year for decades, even as demand from aquaculture has soared. So insects will likely just fulfill some of the huge unmet demand for fishmeal, enabling aquaculture to expand faster. In fact, that’s what the EU predics: it thinks that if insect farming takes off, “aquaculture production [will] increase by 1.1%, driven by the increased supply of insect meal.”

"Insect farming’s greatest effects, though, will be felt on the insects’ themselves. I hesitated on whether to write about this. We have enough trouble convincing people to care about the suffering of chickens and fish. The prospect of insect suffering has long been wielded as a reductio ad absurdum against efforts to help other animals. And I don’t even know whether insects can suffer."

"More broadly, I think this is a reminder of the importance of talking about animals’ capacity to suffer, and not just the climate, health, or other harms of meat. Those latter arguments might get people to ditch meat, but they don’t set the basis for us to expand our moral circle. The history of animal advocacy, and perhaps of most moral progress, has been one of expanding our moral circle to include more sentient beings. We may need to expand it a bit further."

Lewis Bollard is Farm Animal Welfare Program Officer of Open Philanthropy 


Some literature:

Jennifer A. Mather and Claudio Carere (eds, 2019): Consider the Individual: Personality and Welfare in Invertebrates. Springer.

Simona Kralj-Fišer and Wiebke-Schuett (2014): Studying personality variation in invertebrates: why bother? Elsevier.



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