A graphic from an authoritative new report on global aquaculture highlights just how dangerous Chinese fish has become
Earlier today, the WorldFish Center and Conservation International released what these organizations are calling "the most comprehensive analysis of global aquaculture ever undertaken": "Blue Frontiers: Managing the environmental costs of aquaculture." The report is packed with fascinating information—for example, from 1970 to 2006, the global per capita supply of farmed fish grew by more than a factor of 10, from 0.7 kg to 7.8 kg. But the thing that stood out most was the chart above.
Why? First the obvious: It's visually striking. When the continents are adjusted to reflect their proportional contributions to global aquaculture production, that fat red China—treated as a de facto continent of its own—looks like Santa Claus among minnows. But more important is what the visuals actually mean: China accounted for 61.5 percent of global aquaculture in 2008, a fact that has profound implications for the rest of the world in terms of food safety. When we deal with fish from China, we can't be sure the fish is free of a host of risky antibiotics and other chemicals—and in the U.S., at least, the government isn't adequately prepared to check.