What is Aquaculture and How Important is it for us?

Aquaculture can be described as the discipline of breeding, rearing, and harvesting of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, and aquatic plants. The aquaculture market has been proliferating as it provides a means to restore habitats, rebuild populations under threat, and meet the increasing food demand to feed the ever-growing population.

Asian cuisine, which predominantly deals with meat and other kinds of seafood utilising traditional and local ingredients, has become increasingly popular around the world and China, Vietnam, and Japan, are among the largest consumers of seafood. As a result, the production of seafood for human consumption has dramatically increased across the world.

Although overfishing is not the only factor damaging our aquatic biomes, it is true that it has become a significant issue for the aquatic environment and has endangered many species, making us think about what can we do to stop this.

Now, picture this, what if we can breed and raise fish, molluscs, crustaceans, and aquatic plants in a controlled and natural environment, wouldn’t this help us meet the ever-increasing demand for seafood and help protect aquatic life at the same time?

This is exactly what we are going to understand in this article today. We will come to know more about aquaculture and why it is important to us.

Aquaculture has been practised for thousands of years and has progressively evolved due to the increasing knowledge of the practice and its integration with natural, cultural, social, and economic environments.

Scientific advancements in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have significantly aided in the development of aquaculture. Now, the sector has developed enough to support the majority of the seafood demand in the world.

With the developments in the field of animal breeding and rearing for commercial purposes, fish farming has also become a prevalent area of animal food production. Fish farming is a part of aquaculture where fishes and aquatic organisms are raised in an enclosed artificial environment. Due to this reason, aquaculture is also known as fish farming or fish culture. The most farmed aquatic species in the fish farming market include salmon, trout, tuna, halibut, and cod.

Aquaculture farming procedure of farm-to-table can differ depending on the species of fish. Generally, aquaculture consists of four stages in production from the hatcheries to the seafood counter of stores.

The first stage involves the hatchery, where the breeding of fish, hatching of eggs, and rearing are done. The next stage involves the feeding of mature fish after transferring them to a farm. The fish are grown using feed from mills, which is another step in the aquaculture procedure.

The last is the transportation of the fish to a processing facility where it will be packaged and will be delivered to retail stores and marketplaces. And this is how the product reaches the customers.

Why is Aquaculture Important for us?

The ever-increasing demand for seafood has resulted in overfishing, creating a need for other seafood sources to reduce the negative impacts associated with the overfishing of our seas and other natural resources. Sadly, the days when nature’s abundant production fed the world are long

gone. Overfishing has driven the habitat and production of aquatic lifeforms to a corner. The demand for seafood cannot be met naturally by the ocean. The method to address the supply gap for seafood responsibly and sustainably is aquaculture.

Aquaculture comes as the solution for future generations to access wholesome and ecologically friendly protein sources. In addition to being essential, aquaculture offers customers a sustainable alternative, particularly in comparison to other farmed or animal-based proteins.

When compared to chicken, pig, and beef, seafood has the best protein retention, making it a very resource-efficient meal choice. Moreover, among the identical types of protein, it has the lowest feed conversion ratio. Compared to other farming methods, aquaculture produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Aquaculture’s main role is to effectively supplement wild-caught fish alternatives in order to improve the amount of seafood that is available on a global scale.

As long as it is carried out in a way that is ecologically friendly, socially responsible, and takes into account food safety and animal welfare, aquaculture has the potential to enhance both the health of our planet and the health of the population.

By Michael Caine

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