Aquaculture's growth seen as continuing

January 2, 2009

Aquaculture production of seafood will probably remain the most rapidly increasing food production system worldwide through 2025, according to an assessment published in the January 2009 issue of BioScience. The assessment, by James S. Diana of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, notes that despite well-publicized concerns about some harmful effects of aquaculture, the technique may, when practiced well, be no more damaging to biodiversity than other food production systems. Moreover, it may be the only way to supply growing demand for seafood as the human population increases.

Diana notes that total production from capture fisheries has remained approximately constant for the past 20 years and may decline. Aquaculture, in contrast, has increased by 8.8 percent per year since 1985 and now accounts for about one-third of all aquatic harvest by weight. Finfish, mollusks, and crustaceans dominate aquaculture production; seafood exports generate more money for developing countries than meat, coffee, tea, bananas, and rice combined.

Among the most potentially harmful effects of aquaculture, according to Diana, are the escape of farmed species that then become invasive, pollution of local waters by effluent, especially from freshwater systems, and land-use change associated with shrimp aquaculture in particular. Increased demand for fish products for use in feed and transmission of disease from captive to wild stocks are also hazards.

Nonetheless, when carefully implemented, aquaculture can reduce pressure on overexploited wild stocks, enhance depleted stocks, and boost natural production of fishes as well as species diversity, according to Diana. Some harmful effects have diminished as management techniques have improved, and aquaculture has the potential to provide much-needed employment in developing countries. Diana points to the need for thorough life-cycle analyses to compare aquaculture with other food production systems. Such analyses are, however, only now being undertaken, and more comprehensive information is needed to guide the growth of this technique in sustainable ways.

Source: American Institute of Biological Sciences

Explore further: What can satellite data do for aquaculture?

Related Stories

What can satellite data do for aquaculture?

September 21, 2016

"We're shut because of a harmful algal bloom in the waters at the moment. Being shut costs us £25-30,000 a week, and last year we were shut for four months."

Can farmed fish feed the world sustainably?

September 14, 2016

The world's population is expected to soar by 2.5 billion people by 2050, bringing a host of global challenges – including how to feed so many hungry mouths.

Taking the environmental bite out of salmon farming

September 28, 2016

In a peaceful bay off Norway's Hitra island, massive nets teem with salmon destined for dinner tables worldwide—an export boon for the Nordic nation that comes with a long list of environmental side-effects.

Making fish farming more sustainable

April 14, 2016

The American Heart Association recommends that we eat fish at least twice a week, since fish are high in protein, low in saturated fats and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Global per capita fish consumption has almost doubled ...

Recommended for you

Solar panels repay their energy 'debt': study

December 6, 2016

The climate-friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday.

New method for studying individual defects in transistors

December 6, 2016

Scientists from the University of Twente's MESA+ Research Institute have developed a method for studying individual defects in transistors. All computer chips, which are each made up of huge numbers of transistors, contain ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.