environmental concerns about new fish sold here

Sales of ecological food up

Swedish Radio video of Pangasius fish farming in Vietnam (in Swedish)

Updated 16:50 PM

The website Ekoweb reports that sales of ecological foods here increased by 11 percent last year. Ecological foods now account for about 3.1 percent of all grocery sales in Sweden.

Much of the increase is attributed to ecological wines and spirits sold by the national alcohol retail monopoly, Systemetbolaget. Ecological sales there rose by 40 percent during 2010.

But Swedish Radio News warns that a new popular fish sold in Sweden is far from ecological. Vietnamese iridescent shark, or Pengasius, is not a shark, but rather a kind of catfish from southeast Asia. There are concerns about the over-use of antibiotics and the release of wastes into the environment by fish farms.

It’s sold in Sweden and other parts of Europe as an inexpensive substitute for the dwindling stocks of cod.

These are farmed in Vietnam in what Swedish Radio News says are very over-crowded tanks or enclosures, and millions of tons of their wastes are reportedly released into the Mekong River. This leads to an over-fertilization that damages the local eco-system, and threatens fish in the river consumed by the local population.

Swedish Radio News says some companies do filter the outgoing water, but the pressure from Europe to keep prices low means that many others cannot afford such measures.

The cultivated Pengasius are also fed meal made from fish caught at sea, which in turn has led to over-fishing there.

The enclosures are just around 50 by 100 meters, which can contain more than 300,000 fish of around 1 kg each. Swedish Radio News says the consequence is that the fish get sick, which has led to the abuse of antibiotics, and the resulting growth in antibiotic resistant bacteria.

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