top of page

Tackling the Challenges of Sustainable Aquaculture

Although the growth of aquaculture can meet employment and food security needs in developing countries, the loss of biodiversity and eutrophication are the most notable negative ecological impacts of aquaculture, which can occur due the collective impact of all farms rather than at an individual farm level. In Agriculture and Environmental Services Department Notes published by The World Bank, aquaculture specialist Randall Brummett recognizes aquaculture to be among the most sustainable animal protein production systems. How can aquaculture tackle its challenges and push forth a sustainable system?

The impact of climate change

Climate change intersects with the sustainable challenges of aquaculture. Increased salinity intrusion from the rise of sea-level and increased rainfall can create alterations to water chemistry detrimental to aquaculture organisms. Aquaculture infrastructure and crops in water and on land can be destroyed by storms. Nesar Ahmed, a Research Fellow at Deakin University who studies global seafood sustainability, argues that “climate change is the greatest challenge” to sustainability of aquaculture systems.

The destruction of 38% of mangrove habitats in the world can be accounted for by prawn cultivation in south and southeast Asia. These mangrove habitats have ecological functions such as buffering coastlines from storms and the rise in sea-level, and sequestering carbon. Saltwater intrusion of inland areas that resulted from the loss of mangroves makes terrestrial agriculture difficult. Studies have shown that this accounts for a large proportion of the carbon footprint of shrimp, with Indonesia having the worst record in the past 20 years.

The future of food

In 2016, an addition of 11.7m tons of raw material for marine feed manufacturing was produced in processing plants, which was not collected for marine ingredient production. Apart from China, Asia has the biggest potential for further production at 4.6m tons of marine ingredient production.

By 2030, aquaculture is projected to be a primary source of seafood. And by 2050, fish farming can nourish the global population and livelihoods of nine billion people. For a truly sustainable aquaculture system to support this meteoric rise to meet demands, the aquaculture system must consist of environmental, economic, and social and community sustainability; without creating significant ecosystem disruption, causing loss of biodiversity and substantial pollution, by establishing itself as a viable long-term business, and being socially responsible and contributing to community well-being. Essential practices for sustainable aquaculture include environment, community, and sustainable business and farm management practices. These practices ensure wetland and mangrove conservation, water quality control, sediment control, soil and water conservation, establishing aquaculture zones, worker safety, equitable compensation, fair labor practices, effective disease and biodiversity control systems, and minimal pharmaceutical and antibiotic use.

Systems put in place to ensure ecosystem-level sustainability of aquaculture via sustaining the abundance and diversity of indigenous species require regulatory or zoning instruments for the monitoring of aquaculture boundaries and sustainability monitoring systems and indicators in regards to local ecological carrying capacity of zones aforementioned. Effective sustainability indicators should be in accordance with the functionality of ecosystems, public expectation of the services functional ecosystems generate, are easy to monitor and robust, and are informed by local priorities as opposed to culture systems or farmed species.

The future of food calls for aquaculture sustainability. To tackle the challenges to sustainable agriculture would bring about a great contribution to global food security.

28 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page