The idea of domesticating animals for use as a food source is not a new one. For centuries, humans have kept animals on farms, but a fairly new business is that of aquaculture, or the idea of farming fish. Seafood is a rapidly growing industry, and growing with it are fish farms where the food that will end up on your plate tomorrow is being cultivated today. With any agricultural business, concerns creep up about the impact of the activity on the environment and its inhabitants. There are many positives to aquaculture, and if done right, negative effects can be eliminated.
Meet Growing Demand
According to the Environmental Defense Fund's website, demand for seafood has increased steadily over the past 30 years worldwide, and as more people begin to eat fish "the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that an additional 40 million tons of aquatic food will be required by 2030--just to maintain current levels of consumption." Seafood is a more health-conscious food choice as well, which may be contributing to increased consumption in modernized nations.
As demand for fish increases, it only makes since that the amount of fish in our waterways begins to decrease. Aquaculture is a way to keep up with this demand while maintaining safe and natural levels of fish stock in oceans, lakes and rivers. According to AquaSol, Inc., an aquaculture consulting company, "Aquaculture's contribution to global supplies of fish, crustaceans and mollusks continues to grow, increasing from 3.9 percent of total production by weight in 1970 to 27.3 percent in 2000." As new technology and procedures develop, the environmental impact of fish farming will decrease as natural levels of fish increase.
With demand for seafood increasing, there is little doubt that aquaculture is a profitable industry. Many nations use fish farming not only as a way to help feed their masses, but as a major source of income. Seafood makes a great export for many countries and also provides job opportunities for its citizens. The relative low cost and ease of starting a small-scale fish farm also makes it easier for entrepreneurs to get into the growing business of aquaculture.