Monday, January 31, 2011

Aquaculture Overtakes Fishing for Global Seafood Production

In a report recently released by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, fish farming has become a more valuable industry than conventional fishing.  According to the FAO ‘State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture-2010’ report, global capture fisheries landed 90 million tonnes in 2008, while aquaculture animal production was only 52.5 million tonnes.  However, the value of global capture fisheries was $93.9 billion, while aquaculture was valued at a whopping $98.4 billion!  And that doesn’t include aquatic plant culture, valued at another $7.4 billion!!
The report states that global seafood consumption is now at an annual level of 17 kg per capita: that’s 37.5 pounds of seafood per person!  And while that figure represents both capture fisheries and aquaculture, capture fisheries has remained somewhat stagnant while aquaculture has enjoyed an average annual growth rate of 6.6% since 1970.  Currently, aquaculture is the fastest-growing food production industry in the world!

While these figures foretell of a booming industry to come, we must be cautious: many conventional aquaculture practices are harmful to the environment and are counter-productive to protecting wild fish stocks.  It is imperative that the future expansion of aquaculture be done in manner that takes the security and quality of the environment into account: rather than monoculture facilities, conduct polyculture to grow many species and create sustainable mini-ecosystems.  Utilize natural biological pesticides as opposed to chemicals to combat parasites.  Treat the wastes from fish farms to be reused as terrestrial fertilizers.  Build aquaponics facilities to grow fish and plants together, each living off the wastes of the other.  In these ways, we can create an industry that is both environmentally-sustainable AND economically-profitable for generations to come!

Find the full FAO report here:       

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