Fish Fertilizer: An Environmental Concern

I used to believe that fish fertilizer was a harmless product. After all, it’s made from fish waste, right? But recently, I stumbled upon some alarming information that made me question everything I thought I knew.

Did you know that whole fish are being harvested just to make fish fertilizer? Yes, it’s true! Companies are catching fish like menhaden specifically for this purpose. Menhaden, a fish not meant for human consumption, plays a crucial role in the ecosystem as prey for many predatory fish and a food source for various bird species. By removing these fish from the food chain, the production of fish fertilizer is unknowingly damaging the environment.

Now, let’s delve deeper into the issue.

Raw Materials for Fish Fertilizer

Fish fertilizer is made from two types of ingredients: fish waste (guts, bones, and heads) or whole fish caught exclusively for fertilizer production. One company, Alaska Fish Fertilizer, a prominent supplier in the industry, sources almost all of its raw materials from whole menhaden fish. Interestingly, this company named Alaska Fish Fertilizer gets its fish from the Atlantic and Caribbean Oceans, not Alaska. It’s puzzling, isn’t it?

Environmental Impact of Fish Fertilizer

Here’s where things get concerning. Menhaden, as mentioned earlier, are a vital food source for many fish and bird species. They are a crucial part of the ecological balance. Unfortunately, the overfishing of menhaden has caused their population to decline. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission declared in 2012 that the Atlantic menhaden was depleted due to excessive fishing. Although the current website of ASMFC states that they are not overfished, it’s clear that the removal of menhaden for fish fertilizer production isn’t helping the situation.

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Fish Fertilizer: Not a Renewable Resource

While it’s not entirely accurate to blame the manufacturers of fish fertilizer for depleted fish stocks, it’s undeniable that they contribute to the problem. In fact, Alaska Fish Fertilizer alone uses a significant quantity of fish solubles per year, obtained from Zapata Haynie Corp. This further highlights the non-renewable nature of fish as a resource. If we continue down this path, fish stocks in our oceans will continue to decrease.

Brands to Watch Out For

Determining which fish fertilizers are made from whole fish isn’t always straightforward. Many brands prefer to use terms like “fresh fish,” which seems irrelevant when it comes to making fertilizer. A component called fish emulsion often remains after processing the solid parts and oil of whole fish. However, the term “fish emulsion” doesn’t accurately indicate the source of the fish used. Some manufacturers may claim their product is fish emulsion but disclose in small print that it’s made from fish remains or fish viscera. It’s a misleading practice that makes it difficult for consumers to know exactly what they’re buying.

Carp as an Alternative Source

Thankfully, some companies are catching invasive species, such as carp, and using them to make fish fertilizer. This is an excellent practice that should be encouraged. By utilizing these invasive species, we can reduce their negative impact on the environment while still producing effective fertilizer.

Is Fish Fertilizer Organic?

While I plan to discuss this topic in detail in another post, let’s assume for now that fish fertilizer is considered organic. However, if you’re using fish fertilizer made from whole fish, it’s important to note that it may not be as environmentally friendly as you think. In my opinion, true organic gardening should prioritize sustainability and avoid contributing to environmental damage.

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In summary, fish fertilizer is not as innocent as it may seem. The fishing industry’s reliance on whole fish for fertilizer production is causing harm to the environment and depleting crucial food sources for other species. It’s essential to be aware of the brands that use whole fish and consider alternative options like carp-based fish fertilizers. Let’s strive for sustainable and environmentally friendly gardening practices.