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And fish both! Whether it's fresh or coming from a breeding, it does not matter: it is always a food fine, which is the basis of the Mediterranean diet and which we should bring to the table more often. In this the aquaculture gives us a nice hand because the fish bred is sold throughout the year, at prices affordable and with guarantees of safety and traceability. Yet there are still many prejudices against farmed fish. And this limits the development of theaquaculture, which could help Italy reduce its dependence onimports (80% of the fish for sale in Italy comes from abroad, and half of it is bred), and it does not sufficiently enhance our national production, which is considered a foreign countryexcellence, in particular with regard to bass, sea bream, trout, char and caviar. To clarify and dispel many "Hoaxes" on farmed fish the feed company Skretting has created a practical guide aimed at consumers who want to learn more about modern aquaculture, while the CREA has promoted an information campaign on theorganic aquaculture. But, then, is fish to be trusted? Here are the 6 key issues to answer.

Is the farmed fish safe?
Paradoxically, it is more than the one caught. And for several reasons. First of all the quality of thesupply and the waters in which he lives, united with the cycle of life short, they cause the farmed fish to accumulate less contaminants chemicals (like dioxins and heavy metals) compared to that caught, which often comes from seas polluted. And then of the fish that is caught in the seas and oceans we only know the area where it was taken and the method of capture. But we don't know neither what he has eat neither the quality of the water where it is grown nor the amount of heavy metals it has accumulated. On the contrary, aquaculture fish is followed, controlled and "Traced" throughout its life cycle and must comply with specific legal requirements. In particular, the one bred in the countries of theEuropean Union must respect animal welfare (for example, are forbidden hormones growth promoters) and is monitored fromegg to consumption. This system does not provide guarantees only on the fish that arrives on the plate but also on what it has eat and the techniques with which it was bred and allows you to go back at any time to all the passages of which it was the subject. In contrast, in non-European countries, in general, checks are limited to fish ready to enter on market, which must meet the requirements set by the EU, but all the traceability of the product is missing. So, look at provenance, indicated on the label or on the signs displayed in the fish market, and attention also to price: if a bream falls below i 15-16 EUR per kg, then it comes from more competitive countries but with lower quality and less controlled productions, such as the Turkey.

What do the fish we eat eat?
On farms the fish are fed with feed balanced, safe and controlled, differentiated according to theirs age and dosed to make them grow faster. We mainly use feed based on animal flours, because they are very rich in protein, fats and mineral salts, and therefore have an excellent nutritional value for carnivorous fish species. These flours can be obtained from products slaughter of animals for consumption human or from waste from the fish processing process caught. It is a concrete way to value gods "Nutrients" that otherwise would be unused and to contribute to the economy circular. Furthermore, to make aquaculture more sustainable, feedstuffs made from raw materials are increasingly used vegetable (like algae) and the use of those based on is spreading insect meal.

Is aquaculture unsustainable because it impoverishes the seas?
On the contrary, it is one of the concrete solutions to respond to the growing demand for products fish without further exploitation seas and oceans. Today there is a serious problem of overfishing for most species and therefore the quantity of fish cannot be increased. caughtindeed it is necessary to reduce it. This is why it is important toaquaculture provided that it is conducted in a modern and sustainable way, ie by reducing the use of martens and fish oils in animal feed in favor of other "ingredients", such as the residues of slaughter animal, insects and vegetable raw materials. "The fish are the animals more ‘efficient’ in transforming what they eat in bulk corporeal: to obtain 1 kg it takes about 1.5 kg of fodderhe explains, against 2.9 kg of pigs and 6.7 kg of cattle Fabrizio Capoccioni of the Zootechnics and Aquaculture Research Center at the CREA – This is one of the most sustainable fish farms. " To minimize the impact on the aquaculture environment, new ones have been developed technologies to treat the water coming out of the farms, like the settling tanks, which reduce the polluting load, and the filtration systems that allow the reuse of most of the water used in the tanks.

Does farmed fish have less nutrients than fish caught?
No, it has nutritional characteristics similar to those of fish wild and even more stable given that the composition nutritional of the fish caught varies according to different factors (species, season, feeding, age, etc.). In general, the fish of breeding they tend to accumulate more fat in their meat. And this is a benefit, because they generally have a greater presence of Omega3, fats "Best friends". Quantifying this difference, however, is not easy because this (like many other nutritional characteristics of farmed fish) depends on what the fish eat bred. For example, those fed with vegetable oils they provide less Omega-3 than those fed fish-based feed. In any case, the advice remains to consume every two weeks portions (at least) of fatty fish or medium fat, fished or bred: this covers the needs of Omega 3.

Is the fish caught fresher than the one bred?
In Italy the farmed fish comes from spinneret short and is fished "on demand" by traders. So it always comes fresh in stores and in times, generally, less than what happens for fish caught. Furthermore, the farmed fish never comes frozen food before marketing. Another difference: the farmed fish is always of season. Indeed unlike the catch – which is not always available because subjected to the seasonality, to the fishing limits of the stock fish and also to the climatic conditions – the farmed fish is on sale, always fresh, 12 months a year.

Is organic fish raised better?
It is the one that offers even greater guarantees in terms of Welfare animal (eg stocking density), feeding and no use of antibiotics. "Organic aquaculture is the most sustainable because it is the most attentive to animal welfare (for example, fish have more space available), to the quality of feed, which must be done with ingredients bio, and to the sustainability of the farms, which must have a low impact environmental ”says Fabrizio Capoccioni of CREA. Organic aquaculture has many advantages but it is still young and not very widespread: authorized by a decade, today it represents only the 3% of fish production Italian, with over ten species among fish and mussels (especially mussels, trout, sea bass and sea bream). But it could to grow up, if we bought more, taking advantage of the fact that it can now also be bought in gdo (for example in Esselunga) and through joint purchasing groups (GAS).

Manuela Soressi
April 2019