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Sunday, 3 November, 2002, 05:40 GMT
UK scientists to turn fish vegetarian
salmon farm
Dwindling wild fish stocks make farming unsustainable
British scientists are developing the means to turn fish vegetarian in an attempt to preserve dwindling stocks in oceans around the world.

Farmed salmon, trout, haddock and cod are fed on smaller, wild fish.

And as they can consume up to five times their own weight, the industry is rapidly becoming unsustainable.


The fish may swallow the idea - but will consumers?

Don Staniford, of Friends of the Earth
But now government scientists at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Agriculture Science in Lowestoft believe they have discovered a chemical to make farmed fish eat vegetable matter.

Dr Andy Moore told BBC News: "This will revolutionise fish farming worldwide."

Dr Moore and his colleagues have developed a synthetic version of the pheromone released by fish that makes them hungry.

And tests show fish start snapping at the water, looking for anything to eat, once they sense its presence.

Litmus test

The scientists say that since a certain amount of the pheromone is naturally produced in the water by the fish anyway, it is unlikely to adversely affect their health.

But although the industry has welcomed the discovery, concerns remain that consumers may be put off by what they will see as the unnatural altering of fish behaviour.

Don Staniford, of Friends of the Earth, told BBC News: "The fish may swallow the idea - but will consumers?

"That is really the litmus test at the end of the day.

"Will the public buy the end product?"

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Charlotte Smith
"Huge amounts of wild fish are caught simply to feed farmed fish"
See also:

02 Nov 02 | Science/Nature
31 Oct 02 | Science/Nature
18 Feb 02 | Boston 2002
16 Feb 02 | Boston 2002
29 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
27 Jul 01 | Science/Nature
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