When you think about the seafood you order at a restaurant, you usually picture the fish being caught on a wooden boat by fisherman don’t you? However, aquaculture – or fish farming is one of the fastest growing industries and chances are, your delicious salmon was produced this way. In Australia, over 40 different types of seafood are cultivated in aquaculture farms, including barramundi, Murray cod, mussels, oysters and prawns. We also have a post dedicated to the difference between farm-raised and wild-caught fish.
Aquaculture is the farming and management of freshwater and marine animals and plants in a controlled environment. The main purpose of this aquaculture is to supply for human consumption and supports the food chain at a lower level by producing algae and other plant organisms for animal feed. Increasing global population coupled with increased seafood consumption results in the growing demand for seafood. Global seafood consumption reached 143 million metric tons in 2009, which is an increase of more than 20 million tons in 10 years. Currently, our consumer demand in Australia for seafood exceeds the supply from domestic production and continues to increase.
- Although aquaculture can be considered more sustainable, it isn’t always economically viable as this method doesn’t work for every species. Carnivorous fish, which is most fish, need to eat smaller fish, or pellets made from fish. For example, Salmon consume the fish that eat the plankton; they don’t eat the plankton directly. On the other hand, tilapia, which feed directly on phytoplankton are great for this type of farming.
- Another fundamental concerns with farming many seafood species is that aquaculture doesn’t take the pressure off wild fisheries.
- Polluted Ecosystems: The discharge of waste from aquaculture facilities into surrounding waterways can be an issue. In the case of sea cages, a build-up of matter and unused food can lead to nutrient overload and pollute the local environment. The impacts of sea-cage farming on a wide geographical scale are generally unknown, but local impacts are likely to be reversible once the cages are removed.
- Farmed tuna are harvested from the wild as juveniles: Farming of southern bluefin tuna involves the capture of juvenile wild tuna from the ocean. Around 90% of this are caught in Australian waters, who are destined for fattening pens in South Australia, placing further pressure on these critically endangered fish.
In Australia, the scale of aquaculture in ponds are relatively small and regulations are tighter compared to our neighbouring countries. However, we must take caution with further industry expansion, which will inevitably increase pressure on our local coastal environments.
Help stop overfishing by supporting our petition to ban super trawlers in Australia!
– A.K #error404fish