Aquaculture  is the breeding of  fish  ,  crustaceans  ,  molluscs  ,  aquatic plants,  algae  and other aquatic organisms. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be compared to  the commercial fishery , which is wild fish harvesting. [2]  It is less commonly spelled  aquaculture  [3], and is also known as  aquafarming  . The mariculture refers to aquaculture in marine environments and in underwater habitats.

According   to the  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)  , aquaculture means “the farming of aquatic organisms, including fish, shellfish, crustaceans and aquatic plants.” Breeding involves some form of intervention in the breeding process. , feeding, protection against predators, etc. Agriculture also involves the individual or collective ownership of the cultivated stock. ”  [4] Reported production by global aquaculture operations in 2014 provided more than half of the fish and seafood consumed directly by humans. [5]  [6]  However, there are problems with the reliability of reported figures. [7] In addition, in current aquaculture practice, the products of several pounds of wild fish are used to produce a pound of fish that is  piscivorous  such as  salmon  . [8]

Special types include aquaculture  fish farming  ,  shrimp farming  , the  oyster  , the  mariculture  , the  algiculture  (such as  seaweed farming  ) and cultivation of  ornamental fish  . Particular methods include  aquaponics  and integrated multi –  trophic  aquaculture   , both of which incorporate fish farming and aquatic plant cultivation.



Workers Harvest Catfish from Delta Pride Catfish Farms in Mississippi

The indigenous Gunditjmara people   of  Victoria  ,  Australia  , may have raised eels as early as 6000 BC. Evidence suggests they developed approximately 100 km  2  (39 square miles) of  plains  of  flood  volcanic close to the  Lake Condah  in a complex channels and dams, and used  traps  woven to catch  eels  and retain to eat all year. [9]  [10]

Aquaculture operated in China  around  2500 BC. [11]  When the waters subsided after the river flooded, some fish, mainly carp, were trapped in the lakes. The first aquaculturists fed their broods with  nymphs  and silkworm excrement   , and ate them. A lucky genetic mutation of the  carp  led to the emergence of  goldfish  during the  Tang Dynasty  .

Cultivated Japanese  seaweed  by providing  bamboo  poles and, later, fillets and  oyster  shells to serve as anchor surfaces for  spores  .

The Romans  reared fish in ponds and grew oysters in coastal lagoons before 100 CE. [12]

In Central Europe,   Christian monasteries have adopted Roman aquaculture practices. [13] Aquaculture spread in Europe in the  Middle Ages,  far from the coasts and great rivers, the fish had to be salted not to rot. [14]  Improvements in transportation during the 19th century made fresh fish readily available and inexpensive, even in inland areas, making aquaculture less popular. The ponds of   the 15th century Trebon Basin in the  Czech Republic  are conserved as  UNESCO World Heritage  . [15]

Hawaiians have built  oceanic fish ponds  . An outstanding example is a fish pond dating back to at least 1000 years ago in Alekoko. Legend has it that it was built by the mythical Menehune dwarf people   . [16]

In the first half of the 18th century, German  Stephan Ludwig Jacobi experimented with  the external fertilization  of  brown trout  and  salmon  . He wrote an article  “Von der künstlichen Erzeugung der Forellen und Lachse”. During the last decades of the eighteenth century, oyster culture began in the estuaries of the Atlantic coast of North America. [17]

The word aquaculture appeared in a 1855 newspaper article referring to ice harvesting. [18]  It also appeared in the descriptions of terrestrial agricultural practice of under-irrigation at the end of the 19th century  [19]  before becoming associated mainly with the cultivation of aquatic plant and animal species.

In 1859, Stephen Ainsworth of  West Bloomfield, New York  , began experiments with  brook trout  . In 1864, Seth Green established a commercial fish hatchery at Caledonia Springs, near  Rochester, New York  . In 1866, with the participation of Dr. WW Fletcher of  Concord, Massachusetts  , artificial hatcheries were in operation in Canada and the United States. [20]  When the Dildo Island hatchery   opened in Newfoundland in 1889, it was the largest and most advanced in the world. The word aquaculture was used in descriptions of hatchery experiments with cod and lobster in 1890  [21].

In the 1920s, the American Fish Culture Company of  Carolina, Rhode Island  , founded in the 1870s was one of the leading producers of trout. During the 1940s, they perfected the method of handling the day and night cycle of fish so that they can be artificially generated throughout the year. [22]

Californians harvested   wild kelp and attempted to manage supplies around 1900, later labeling it as a war resource.

The practice of the 21st century

Stagnant harvests in  wild fisheries  and  overexploitation  of popular marine species, combined with a growing demand for high quality protein, have encouraged aquaculturists to domesticate other marine species. [24]  [25]  At the beginning of modern aquaculture, many were optimistic that a “blue revolution” could take place in aquaculture, just as the  green revolution  of the 20th century had revolutionized agriculture. [26] Although land animals have long been domesticated, most seafood species were still caught in the wild. Concerned about the impact of the growing demand for seafood on the world’s oceans,  Jacques Cousteau wrote in 1973: “With the growing human populations of the Earth to feed, we must turn to the sea with a new understanding and a new technology. ”  [27]

About 430 (97%) of the species cultivated from 2007 were domesticated during the 20th and 21st centuries, of which about 106 appeared in the decade until 2007. Given the long-term importance of agriculture to date, only 0.08% of known terrestrial plant species and 0.0002% of known terrestrial animal species have been domesticated, compared to 0.17% of known marine plant species and 0.13% of marine animal species. known. Domestication usually involves a decade or so of scientific research. [28]  Domestication of aquatic species is less of a risk to humans than terrestrial animals, which have caused many human casualties. Most of the major human diseases came from domestic animals  [29], including diseases such as  smallpox and  diphtheria. like most infectious diseases, switch to the animal man. No  human pathogen of comparable virulence has yet emerged from marine species. [  citation needed  ]

Biological pest control methods are already being used, such as cleaner fish (eg, lumps and wrasses) to control sea lice populations in salmon farming. [30]  The models are used to help spatial planning and location of fish farms to minimize impact. [31]

The decline in wild fish stocks has increased the demand for farmed fish. [32]  However, the search for alternative sources of protein and oil for fish feed is necessary so that the aquaculture industry can grow sustainably; otherwise, it represents a great risk for overexploitation of forage fish. [33]

Another recent problem following the 2008 ban on organotins by the International Maritime Organization is the need to find compounds that are environmentally friendly, but still effective, with anti-fouling effects.

Many new natural compounds are discovered each year, but their production on a sufficient commercial scale is almost impossible.

It is highly likely that future developments in this area will rely on micro-organisms, but more funding and further research is needed to overcome the lack of knowledge in this area. [34]

Groups of species 

Aquatic plants  

Micro  –  algae  , also known as  phytoplankton  ,  microphytes  or  planktonic algae  constitute the majority of  algae  grown. Macalgae commonly known as  algae  also have many commercial and industrial uses, but because of their size and specific needs, they are not easy to grow on a large scale and are most often taken from the wild.


Fish farming is the most common form of aquaculture. It involves raising fish commercially in tanks,  fish ponds  or ocean pens, usually for food. An installation that releases juvenile fish into the wild for recreational fishing or to supplement the natural numbers of a species is usually called a  hatchery  . Worldwide, the most important fish species used in fish farming are, in order, the  carp  , the  salmon  , the  tilapia  and  fish  –  cat  . [1]

In the Mediterranean, young  bluefin tuna  are caught at sea and slowly towed to the coast. They are then interned in  the  enclosure at  wide where they are then cultured for the market. [35]  In 2009, Australian researchers were successful for the first time in encouraging  southern bluefin tuna  to breed in landlocked reservoirs. Southern bluefin tuna are also caught in the wild and fattened in open sea cages in the southern  Gulf of Spencer  ,  South Australia  .

A similar process is used in the salmon farming section of this industry; juveniles are taken from hatcheries and a variety of methods are used to help them mature. For example, as noted above, some of the most important fish species in the industry, salmon, can be grown using a cage system. This is done by having net cages, preferably in open water that has a high flow rate, and feeding the salmon with a special food mixture that promotes their growth. This process allows the growth of the fish throughout the year, so a higher harvest in good seasons. [36]  [37] An additional method, sometimes known as offshore breeding, has also been used in industry. Offshore farming involves raising fish in a  hatchery for a short time and then releasing them into marine waters for further development, after which the fish are recaptured when they have matured. [38]


Commercial  shrimp farming  began in the 1970s and production increased sharply thereafter. World production reached more than 1.6 million tonnes in 2003, worth about  US $  9 billion. About 75% of farmed shrimp are produced in Asia, particularly in China and Thailand. The other 25% is produced mainly in Latin America, where Brazil is the largest producer. Thailand is the largest exporter.

Shrimp farming has shifted from its traditional small-scale form in Southeast Asia to a global industry. Technological advances have led to ever increasing densities per unit area, and  broodstock  are shipped worldwide. Virtually all farmed shrimp are  penaeids  (that is to say the shrimp from the  family  Penaeidae  ), and only two species of shrimp,  white shrimp  from the  Pacific  and the  shrimp  giant  , represent about 80% of all farmed shrimp. These  monocultures are highly susceptible to disease, which has decimated shrimp populations in entire regions. Growing environmental problems   , repeated epidemics, pressures and criticism from non-governmental organizations  and consumer countries led to changes in the industry in the late 1990s and generally stricter regulations. In 1999, governments, industry representatives and environmental organizations launched a program to develop and promote  the practical  farming  more  sustainable  thanks to the program  Seafood Watch  . [39]

Freshwater shrimp farming  shares many features, including many problems, with marine shrimp farming. Unique problems are introduced by the development cycle of the main species, the  giant shrimp  . [40]

The annual global production of freshwater shrimp (excluding  crayfish and  crabs  ) was about 280 000  tonnes  in 2003, of which 180 000 tonnes in China, followed by India and Thailand with 35 000 tonnes. tons each. In addition, China has produced about 370,000 tonnes of  Chinese river crab  . [41]


Farm of Abalone

Aquaculture shellfish include various species of  oysters  ,  mussels and clams. These bivalves are filter feeders and / or deposition organisms, which depend on ambient primary production rather than inputs of fish or other foods. As such, shellfish farming is generally perceived as benign or even beneficial. [42]

Depending on species and local conditions, bivalve molluscs are grown on the beach, on longlines or suspended from rafts and harvested by hand or dredging. In May 2017, a Belgian consortium installed the first of two experimental mussel farms in a wind farm in  the North Sea  . [43]

The  farming of  abalone  began in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Japan and China. [44]  Since the mid-1990s, this industry has been growing in popularity. [45]  Overfishing and  poaching  have reduced wild populations to the extent that farmed abalone now provide the majority of abalone meat. Farmed shellfish can be certified by Seafood Watch and other organizations, including the  World Wildlife Fund (WWF). WWF launched the “Aquaculture Dialogues” in 2004 to develop measurable and performance-based standards for responsible seafood products. In 2009, WWF co-founded the Aquaculture Stewardship Council  with the Dutch Initiative for Sustainable Trade to manage global standards and certification programs. [46]

After trials in 2012,  [47]  a commercial “marine ranch” was established at  Flinders Bay  , Western Australia, to raise abalone. The ranch is based on an artificial reef consisting of 5000 (in April 2016) separate concrete units called  abitats  (abalone habitats). The 900 kg abitats can accommodate 400 abalone each. The reef is seeded with young abalone from an onshore hatchery. Abalone feed on algae that have naturally grown on Abitats, enriching the Bay’s ecosystem and also increasing the number of dhufish, pink snapper, wrasse and Samson fish, among other species.

Brad Adams, of the company, emphasized the similarity with wild abalone and the difference with onshore aquaculture. “We are not in aquaculture, we are raising, because once they are in the water, they take care of themselves.”  [48]  [49]

Other groups

Other groups include aquatic reptiles, amphibians and various invertebrates, such as  echinoderms  and  jellyfish  . They are graphically represented at the top right of this section because they do not contribute enough volume to appear clearly on the main graph.

Commercially harvested echinoderms include  sea cucumbers  and  sea ​​urchins  . In China, holothurians are raised in artificial ponds of 400 hectares. [50]



In 2012, total world production of fishery products was 158 million  tonnes  , of which aquaculture accounted for 66.6 million tonnes or about 42%. [51]  The growth rate of global aquaculture has been sustained and rapid, averaging around 8% per annum for over 30 years, while wild fishery catches have been essentially stable over the past decade. decade. The aquaculture market reached $ 86 billion  [52] in 2009.  [53]

Aquaculture is a particularly important economic activity in China. Between 1980 and 1997, according to the Chinese Fisheries Bureau, aquaculture harvests increased by 16.7 percent a year, from 1.9 million tonnes to nearly 23 million tonnes. In 2005, China accounted for 70% of world production. [54]  [55] Aquaculture is also currently one of the fastest growing food producing areas in the United States  [56]

About 90% of all shrimp consumption in the United States is grown and imported. [57]  In recent years, salmon farming has become a major export in southern Chile, particularly in  Puerto Montt  , Chile’s fastest growing city.

A  United Nations  report,  The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, published in May 2014, confirms that fisheries and aquaculture support the livelihoods of some 60 million people in Asia and Africa. [58]

National laws, regulations and management

Laws governing aquaculture practices vary considerably by country  [59]  and are often not closely regulated or easily traceable. In the United States, land and coastal aquaculture is regulated at the federal and state levels  ; [60]  However, there is no national law governing  offshore aquaculture  in waters of the US  Exclusive Economic Zone  . In June 2011, the Department of Commerce and  the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  published national aquaculture policies  [61] to meet the growing demand for healthy seafood, create jobs in coastal communities and restore vital ecosystems. In 2011, Congresswoman  Lois Capps introduces the  Sustainable National Aquaculture Act 2011 at the National Level  [62]  “to Establish a Regulatory System and Research Agenda for Sustainable Offshore Aquaculture in the States’ Exclusive Economic Zone”. -United”; However, the bill has not been enacted.


China dominates the world in reported aquaculture production,  [63] bringing in a total production that is twice that of the rest of the world. However, there are some historical problems with the accuracy of China’s returns.

In 2001, fisheries scientists Reg Watson and  Daniel Pauly  expressed their concerns in a letter to  Nature  that China reported catches in wild fisheries in the 1990s.  [7]  [64] They said that this suggests that overall catches since 1988 increased by 300,000 tonnes each year, when they actually decreased by 350,000 tonnes each year. Watson and Pauly suggested that this may have been linked to Chinese policies where state entities that oversaw the economy were also responsible for increasing production. In addition, until recently, the promotion of Chinese officials was based on production increases in their own regions. [65]  [66]

China has challenged this claim. The  news agency  official  Xinhua quoted Yang Jian, general manager of the Bureau of Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture, saying that China’s figures were “basically correct”. [67]  However, the  FAO  admitted that there were problems with the reliability of China’s statistics, and for some time processed China’s data, including aquaculture data, at the same time. except the rest of the world. [68]  [69]

Aquaculture methods


Mariculture  refers to the cultivation of marine organisms in the  water of  sea  , usually in sheltered coastal waters. Marine fish farming is an example of mariculture, as is the farming of marine crustaceans (such as  shrimp  ), molluscs (such as  oysters  ) and seaweed.

Mariculture can consist of raising organisms on or in artificial enclosures, for example in floating net enclosures for salmon and on oyster shelves. In the case of closed salmon, they are fed by operators; Oysters on grills filter naturally available foods. The abalone was raised on an artificial reef consuming algae that grow naturally on the reefs. [49]


Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) is a practice in which the by-products (wastes) of one species are recycled to become inputs (  fertilizer  ,  feed  ) for another. Aquaculture (  fish  ,  shrimp  ) is associated with extractive and organic mineral aquaculture (eg  molluscs  ) to create balanced systems of environmental sustainability (biomitigation), economic stability (product diversification and risk reduction) and social acceptability (better management practices). [71]

The term “multi-trophic” refers to the incorporation of species from different trophic  or  nutritional levels   into the same system. [72]  This is a possible distinction from the age-old practice of   aquatic polyculture , which could simply be the co-cultivation of different fish species of the same trophic level. In this case, these organisms can all share the same biological and chemical processes, with few synergistic benefits   , which could potentially lead to significant changes in the  ecosystem. . In fact, some traditional polyculture systems may incorporate a greater diversity of species occupying several  niches , as large (low intensity, poor management) crops in the same pond. The term “integrated” refers to the more intensive cultivation of different species in close proximity to one another, linked by the transfer of nutrients and energy through water.

Ideally, the biological and chemical processes in an IMTA system should be balanced. This is achieved through selection and appropriate proportions of different species providing different ecosystem functions. Co-cultivated species are usually more than just  biofilters  ; they are exploitable crops with commercial value. [72]  An IMTA operational system can result in greater total production based on mutual benefits for cocultivated species and better  ecosystem health , even if the production of individual species is lower than in short-term monoculture . [73]

Sometimes the term “integrated aquaculture” is used to describe the integration of monocultures by water transfer. [73]  However, for all intents and purposes, the terms “multinational aquaculture” and “integrated aquaculture” differ only in their descriptive character. Aquaponics  , fractional aquaculture, integrated agriculture-aquaculture systems, integrated peri-urban-aquaculture systems and integrated fisheries-aquaculture systems are other variants of the IMTA concept.

Netting Materials

Various materials, including  nylon  ,  polyester  ,  polypropylene  ,  polyethylene  ,   plasticized welded wire ,  rubber  ,   patented cord(Spectra, Thorn-D, Dyneema),  galvanized steel  and  copper  are used for aquaculture fillets in the whole world. [74]  [75]  [76]  [77]  [78]  All of these materials are chosen for a variety of reasons, including design feasibility,  material strength  , cost, and  corrosion resistance  .

Recently, copper alloys have become important nets in aquaculture because they are antimicrobial (they destroy  bacteria ,  viruses  ,  fungi ,  algae  and other  microbes  ) and thus prevent  fouling. (ie, undesirable accumulation, adherence and growth of microorganisms). , plants, algae, tubers, geese, molluscs and other organisms). By inhibiting microbial growth, copper alloy aquaculture cages avoid the costly net changes that are needed with other materials. The growth resistance of organisms to copper alloy nets also provides a cleaner and healthier environment for farmed fish to grow and thrive.


If carried out without taking into account potential local environmental impacts, inland aquaculture may cause more environmental damage than  wild fisheries  , although with less waste produced per kilogram worldwide. [79] Local concerns about aquaculture in inland waters may include waste handling, side effects of  antibiotics  , competition between farmed and wild animals and the potential introduction of  invasive plant and animal species  or foreign pathogens. feed more  carnivorous commercialisablepoisson. If non-local live feeds are used, aquaculture can introduce animal plants. Improved methods resulting from advances in commercial food availability and research have alleviated some of these concerns since their greater prevalence in the 1990s and 2000s.  [80]  [81]

Fish waste is organic and composed of necessary nutrients in all components of aquatic food webs. Intra-ocean aquaculture often produces   much higher [  requirements  ] than normal levels of fish waste. Waste accumulates on the ocean bottom, damaging or eliminating seabed life. The waste can also reduce  the  levels of  dissolved oxygen in the  water column  , putting further pressure on wild animals. [82] An alternative model to feeds added to the ecosystem is the installation of artificial reef structures to increase the available habitat niches, without the need to add more than ambient foods and nutrients. This has been used in “breeding” abalone in Western Australia. [49]

Fish oils

Aquaculture tilapia has been shown to contain more fats and a much higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 oils.

Impacts on wild fish

Some species of carnivorous and omnivorous farmed fish are fed   wild forage fish . Although carnivorous farmed fish accounted for only 13 percent of aquaculture production by weight in 2000, they accounted for 34 percent of aquaculture production by value. [83]

The breeding of carnivorous species such as salmon and shrimp leads to a high demand for fodder fish that corresponds to the nutrition that is theirs in nature. Fish do not produce omega-3 fatty acids, but rather  micro  –  algae  that produce these fatty acids, as is the case for forage fish like  herring  and  sardines  , or as the  predatory fish  fats like salmon, by eating  prey fish  that have accumulated  omega-3 fatty acids  from microalgae. To meet this requirement, more than 50% of world fish oil production  is intended for farmed salmon. [84]

Farmed salmon consume more  wild fish  than it produces as a final product, although the efficiency of production improves. To produce a pound of farmed salmon, they are given products from several pounds of wild fish – which can be described as the fish-in-fish ratio (FIFO). In 1995, salmon had a FIFO ratio of 7.5 (which means that 7.5 pounds of wild fish feed was needed to produce 1 pound of salmon); in 2006, the ratio had fallen to 4.9. [85] In addition, a growing share of fish oil and fish meal comes from residues (by-products of fish processing) rather than from dedicated whole fish. In 2012, 34% of fish oil and 28% of fishmeal came from residues. [86] However, fish meal and tailings oil instead of whole fish have a different composition with more ash and less protein, which may limit its potential use for aquaculture.

As the salmon farming industry grows, more wild forage fish is needed to feed the animals, while seventy-five per cent of the world’s monitored fisheries are already close to or have exceeded their range.  maximum sustainable yield . [8]  The industrial scale extraction of wild forage fish for salmon farming then influences the survival of wild predatory fish that depend on it for food. An important step in reducing the impact of aquaculture on wild fish is moving carnivorous species to plant-based foods. For example, salmon feed has gone from fish meal and oil to 40% vegetable protein. [87] The USDA has also experimented with the use of cereal-based foods for   farmed trout . [88] When properly formulated (and often mixed with fishmeal or oil), plant-based foods can provide adequate nutrition and similar growth rates in carnivorous farmed fish . [89]

Another impact that aquaculture production may have on wild fish is the risk of fish escaping from coastal enclosures, where they can cross with their wild counterparts, by diluting wild genetic stocks. [90] Escaped fish can become  an invasive  and competing native species  . [91]  [92]  [93]

Coastal ecosystems

Aquaculture is becoming a major threat to  coastal ecosystems  . About 20% of mangrove forests have been destroyed since 1980, partly because  of shrimp farming  . [94]  An in-  depth cost- benefit analysis  of the  total economic value  of shrimp farming based on mangrove ecosystems revealed that external costs   were much higher than external benefits. [95]  In four decades, 269,000 hectares (660,000 acres) of Indonesian mangroves have been converted into shrimp farms. Most of these farms are abandoned in a decade because of the accumulation of  toxins and  the  loss of  nutrients  . [96]  [97]

Pollution of cage aquaculture at sea 

Salmon farms  are generally located in virgin coastal ecosystems that they then pollute. A 200,000 salmon farm releases more faecal waste than a city of 60,000. These wastes are released directly into the surrounding aquatic environment, untreated, often containing antibiotics and  pesticides  . ”  [8]  There is also an accumulation of  heavy metals  on the  benthos  (seafloor) near the salmon farms, particularly  copper  and  zinc  . [98]

In 2016, fish killings affected salmon farmers along the coast of Chile and the wider ecology. [99]  Increases in aquaculture production and effluents have been identified as contributing factors to fish and shellfish mortality. [100]

Cage aquaculture is responsible for nutrient enrichment of the waters in which they are established. This results from fish waste and uneaten food inputs. The most troubling elements are nitrogen and phosphorus, which can promote algae growth, including harmful algal blooms that can be toxic to fish. Rinsing times, current speeds, shoreline distance, and water depth are important considerations when locating cages at sea to minimize the impacts of nutrient enrichment on coastal ecosystems.

The magnitude of the effects of pollution from cage-based aquaculture at sea varies according to the location of the cages, the species that are conserved, the density of the cages, and the feeding of the fish. Species-specific variables include the feed conversion rate (FCR) and nitrogen retention of the species. Studies prior to 2001 determined that the amount of nitrogen introduced into food that is lost in the water column and the seabed as waste varies from 52 to 95%. [  citation needed  ]

Genetic modification

One type of salmon called AquAdvantage Salmon has been  genetically engineered  for faster growth, although it has not been approved for commercial use, due to controversy. [101]  Modified salmon incorporates chinook salmon growth hormone   which allows it to reach full size in 16-28 months, instead of the normal 36 months for Atlantic salmon, and consuming 25% less food . [102]  The US Food and Drug Administration examined AquAdvantage salmon in a draft EA and determined that it would “have no significant impact (FONSI) on the US environment”. [103]

Ecological benefits

While some forms of aquaculture can be devastating for ecosystems, such as shrimp farming in mangroves, other forms can be very beneficial. Shellfish aquaculture adds substantial filtering capacity to an environment that can significantly improve water quality. A single oyster can filter 15 liters of water a day, eliminating microscopic algal cells. By removing these cells, the shells remove nitrogen and other nutrients from the system and retain or release it as waste that sinks to the bottom. By harvesting these molluscs, the nitrogen they retain is completely eliminated from the system  [104]. The lifting and harvesting of kelp and other macroalgae directly remove nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Reconditioning these nutrients can relieve eutrophic or nutrient-rich conditions, known for their low dissolved oxygen content that can decimate species diversity and the abundance of marine life. The elimination of algal cells from the water also increases the penetration of light, allowing plants such as eelgrass to recover and further increase oxygen levels.

Aquaculture in an area can provide crucial ecological functions for the inhabitants. Shell beds or cages can provide a habitat structure. This structure can be used as refuge by invertebrates, small fish or crustaceans to potentially increase their abundance and maintain biodiversity. Increased shelter increases preyfish and small crustacean stocks by increasing recruitment opportunities, providing more prey for higher trophic levels. One study estimated that 10 square meters of oyster reefs could improve the biomass of an ecosystem of 2.57 kg. [105] Molluscs acting as herbivores will also fall prey. This shifts energy directly from primary producers to higher trophic levels, potentially avoiding multiple energy-intensive trophic jumps that would increase biomass in the ecosystem.

Animal welfare

As with terrestrial animal husbandry, social attitudes influence the need for human practices and regulations in farmed marine animals. Under the guidelines recommended by the  Farm  Animal Welfare Council, animal welfare means both good physical condition and a sense of well-being in the physical and mental state of the animal. This can be defined by the  Five Freedoms  :

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Absence of pain, illness or injury
  • Freedom to express normal behavior
  • Freedom from fear and distress

However, the controversial issue in aquaculture is whether fish and farmed marine invertebrates are actually  sensitive  , or have the perception and awareness of suffering. Although no evidence has been found in marine invertebrates  [106],  recent studies conclude that fish possess the necessary receptors (  nociceptors  ) to detect harmful stimuli and are therefore likely to experience states of pain, fear and stress. [106]  [107]  Therefore, welfare in aquaculture is directed towards vertebrates; fish in particular. [108]

Common welfare concerns

Well-being in aquaculture can be affected by a number of issues such as rearing densities, behavioral interactions,  disease  and  parasitism  . A major problem in determining the cause of deteriorating well-being is that these problems are often interrelated and influence each other at different times. [109]

The optimum population density is often defined by the  ability  to  load stored for the environment and the amount of individual space for the fish, which is very species specific. Although behavioral interactions such as  the  blast  funds  can mean high storage densities are beneficial for some species,  [106]  [110]  in many crops, higher storage densities may be of concern. Overcrowding can constrain normal swimming behavior, as well as increase aggressive and competitive behaviors such as cannibalism  [111]  , competition for food, [112] territoriality and hierarchies of dominance / subordination. [113] This potentially increases the risk of tissue damage due to abrasion of fish-fish contact or fish-cage contact. [106]  Fish may experience reductions in food intake  and  efficiency of feed conversion  . [113]  In addition, high storage densities may result in insufficient water flow, creating an inadequate oxygen supply and waste disposal. [110]  Dissolved oxygen is essential for fish respiration and concentrations below critical levels can induce stress and even lead to  asphyxiation  . [113]  Ammonia, a nitrogen excretion product, is very toxic to fish at accumulated levels, particularly when oxygen levels are low. [114]

Many of these interactions and effects cause stress in fish, which can be an important factor in facilitating fish diseases. [108]  For many parasites, infestation depends on the degree of host mobility, the density of the host population, and the vulnerability of the host defense system. [115]  Sea lice are the main parasitic problem of fish in aquaculture, with high numbers causing widespread skin erosion and bleeding, gill congestion and increased mucus production. [116]  There are also a number of  pathogens important viral and bacterial agents that can have serious effects on internal organs and the nervous system. [117]

Improve well-being

The key to improving the welfare of marine breeding organisms is to reduce stress to a minimum, as prolonged or repeated stress can cause a range of adverse effects. Attempts to minimize stress can occur throughout the growing process. During fattening, it is important to maintain seeding densities at levels appropriate to each species, as well as to separate size classes and grading to reduce aggressive behavioral interactions. Keeping nets and cages clean can help positive water flow to reduce the risk of water degradation.

It is not surprising that disease and parasitism can have a major effect on the welfare of fish and it is important for farmers not only to manage infected stocks, but also to implement disease prevention measures. . However, prevention methods, such as vaccination, can also induce stress due to additional handling and injection. [110]  Other methods include the addition of antibiotics to feed, the addition of chemicals to water for treatment baths, and biological control, such as the use of  cleaner napoleons  to eliminate head lice. farmed salmon. [110]

There are many steps involved in transport including catching, starvation to reduce faecal contamination of the transport water, transfer to the net transport vehicle or pumps, and transport and transfer to the place of delivery. During transport, the water must be kept of high quality, with a controlled temperature, sufficient oxygen and a minimum of waste. [108]  [110]  In some cases,  anesthetics  may be used in small doses to calm the fish prior to transport. [110]

Aquaculture is sometimes part of an environmental rehabilitation program or helps to conserve endangered species. [118]


The  wild fisheries  worldwide are in decline, with valuable habitat such as  estuaries  in critical condition. [119]  Aquaculture or the  rearing  of piscivorous fish   , such as  salmon  , does not help the problem because they have to eat products from other fish, such as  fishmeal  and  fish oil  . Studies have shown that  salmon farming  has  major negative impacts  on wild salmon, as well as  forage fish  that must be caught to feed them. [120]  [121] The Fish that are higher up the  food chain are less efficient sources of food energy.

In addition to fish and shrimp, some aquaculture companies, such as algae and filtering bivalve molluscs such as  oysters  ,  clams  ,  mussels and  scallops  , are relatively benign and even restore the environment. [25]  Filter filters filter pollutants and nutrients from the water, improving the quality of the water. [122]  Algae  extract nutrients such as inorganic nitrogen and  phosphorus directly from water  [71], and   filter-feeding molluscs can extract nutrients when they feed on particles such as phytoplankton  and  detritus  . [123]

Some profitable aquaculture cooperatives promote sustainable practices. [124]  New methods reduce the risk of   biological and chemical pollution by minimizing stress in fish, setting aside mosquito nets and applying  integrated pest management  . Vaccines  are being used more and more to reduce the use of  antibiotics  in the fight against diseases. [125]

Land recirculating aquaculture systems,  polyculture-based  facilities, and appropriately located facilities (eg, high-water offshore areas) are examples of ways to manage adverse environmental effects.

Recirculating aquaculture systems  (RAS) recycle water by circulating it through filters to remove fish waste and food and then recirculating it back into the tanks. This saves water and the waste collected can be used in the  compost  or, in some cases, could even be treated and used on land. While the SCR was developed with freshwater fish in mind, scientists associated with  the Agricultural Research Service have found a way to raise saltwater fish using SAR in low salinity waters. [126] Although saltwater fish are either raised in cages at sea or caught with nets in water that typically has a salinity of 35  parts per thousand(ppt), the scientists were able to produce healthy pompano, a saltwater fish, in tanks with a salinity of only 5 ppt. Commercialization of low salinity SARs is expected to have positive environmental and economic effects. Unwanted nutrients from fish food would not be added to the ocean and the risk of disease transmission between wild and farm-raised fish would be greatly reduced. The price of expensive seawater fish, such as pompano and combia used in experiments, would be reduced. However, before all this can be done the researchers must study all aspects of the life cycle of the fish, including the amount of ammonia and fish nitrate tolerate the presence in the water, storage rate  that will produce the healthiest fish, etc. [126]

Some 16 countries are now using  geothermal energy  for aquaculture, including China,  Israel  and the United States. [127]  In California, for example, 15 fish farms produce tilapia, bass and catfish with warm water from the subsoil. This warmer water allows the fish to grow all year round and mature more quickly. Collectively, these California farms produce 4.5 million kilograms of fish each year. [127]


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Read more

  • William McClarney (2013). Aquaculture in freshwater  . Echo Point Books & Media, LLC. ISBN   1-62654-990-7  .
  • AquaLingua  ISBN   978-82-529-2389-6
  • Rice-fish culture in China  (1995),  ISBN   978-0-88936-776-0  ,  OCLC  35883297
  • Stickney, Robert R. (2009). Aquaculture: an introductory text  . CABI. ISBN   978-1-84593-589-4  .
  • Nash, Colin (November 23, 2010). The history of aquaculture  . John Wiley & Sons. ISBN   978-0-470-95886-5  .
  • Wilkey, Ryan; Myers, Mackenzie; Rintoul, Lyla; Robinson, Torie; Spina, Michelle (June 1st, 2011). “Fiji Aquaculture / Rice Farming Analysis”. Digital Commons at Cal Poly  .
  • Ottinger, M .; Clauss, K .; Kuenzer, C. (2016). “Aquaculture: Relevance, Distribution, Impacts and Spatial Assessments – A Review”  . Oceans and coastal zone management  . 119  : 244-266. doi  :  10.1016 / j.ocecoaman.2015.10.015  .
  • Ottinger, M .; Clauss, K .; Kuenzer, C. (2017). “Large-Scale Evaluation of Coastal Aquaculture Ponds with Sentinel-1 Time Series Data” . Remote sensing  . 9  (5): 440.  doi  :  10.3390 / rs9050440  .

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