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Sustainable aquaculture The importance of research

MALTA - The Food and Agriculture Organisation,states that aquaculture produces over 30 per cent of the fish consumed throughout the world; a percentage that is set to increase to more than 50 per cent by the year 2030. For this increase to take place, a lot of research and development is taking place in all branches of aquaculture and most topics that deal with aquaculture and requires more development, says Dr Francis Agius, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture and Fisheries.

Any activity carried out by man has an environmental impact, but in the case of aquaculture, the impact is exaggerated and usually without scientific proof. Generally, aquaculture depends on a clean environment, as the fish need to be reared without problems so it is in the interest of the industry to keep the environment clean and thus prevent disease or other problems.

Research and development
Research and development has made great strides forward throughout the world, especially during the last 15 years. The fish feed industry is, for example, always carrying out research to formulate diets that are highly digestible and produce minimal waste, thus improving food conversion ratios and farm management. Moreover, fish meal and fish oils are gradually being replaced by proteins and oils from other sources so that the dependence on fish oils and protein is minimised – thus creating diets that are environment friendly.

Research in Malta
Malta is not lagging behind in the aquaculture research sector, as we look ahead to have a sustainable aquaculture industry that is environment friendly and economically viable. The Aquaculture Section at Fort San Lucjan in Marsaxlokk, under the direction of Dr Robert Vassallo-Agius, is taking part in research projects that breed marine species that have a high potential for aquaculture, namely the amberjack (accjol) and blue-fin tuna (tonn).

With these projects that are already underway or in the pipeline, Malta contributes towards closing the cycle for these species, thus producing fish for aquaculture purposes resulting in a decrease in pressure on the wild stocks of these species through fishing.

Source: Malta Independent Online