The rise and rise of aquaculture

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
25 April 2007, at 1:00am

EU - The rapid rise of aquaculture will fundamentally change the way people relate to the oceans, say scientists from the EU-funded Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning (MarBEF) project,in the journal Science.

The growth of aquaculture is very much a modern phenomenon; around 430 (97%) of the aquatic species which are cultivated today were domesticated in the last 100 years, and almost a quarter of these were domesticated in the last decade.

More than 3,000 marine species are used as food, compared to less than 200 land species. Another factor is the overexploitation of the world's fisheries.

Aquaculture production has been growing at rates of 7 to 8% per year, compensating for the stagnation of fishing. And it is likely to become the main source of marine food for humans inthe future as demands continue to grow, say the scientists.

However, there are serious environmental concerns, such as the deterioration of coastal ecosystems from run-off from aquaculture sites, and the impact it may have on wild species used as feed.

Researchers say that the continuity of present rates of domestication, and the capacity of aquaculture to meet the rising human consumption of seafood mean that a sustainable production model that minimisises environmental impact, needs to be developed.