Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the harvesting of wild fish.
The mission of the Office of Aquaculture is to foster marine aquaculture that creates employment and business opportunities in coastal communities; provides safe, sustainable seafood; and supports healthy ocean populations and ecosystems. Aquaculture is one of a range of technologies needed to meet increasing global demand for seafood and serves as a tool to support commercial and recreational fisheries and habitat and species restoration.
There are serious environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions, eutrophication of water, and (for species such as salmon) the need for wild fish to feed the farmed ones.
Seafood industry groups and researchers have been testing large nets, pens, and other apparatus for raising fish in deep-water environments, tens of miles away from the shore. Offshore aquaculture has some natural advantages over coastal fish-farming operations because open-ocean winds, waves, and currents can naturally remove excess feed and wastes. Moving offshore also reduces conflict with boaters and real estate interests.
The new National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007—crafted by NOAA and introduced on April 24 by U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D- W.Va.), chairman of the House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee—specifically charges NOAA with establishing stringent standards and coordinating offshore its aquaculture regulation efforts with individual states. Several national aquaculture programs proposed in the past decade have been criticized for a lack of environmental safeguards.
Global total production of fish, crustaceans and molluscs has continued to increase
and reached 144.6 million tonnes in 2009. While capture production has stayed
around 90 million tonnes level since 2001, aquaculture production has continued
to show strong growth, increasing at an average annual growth rate of 6.1 percent
from 34.6 million tonnes in 2001 to 55.7 million tonnes in 2009. The value of
aquaculture production was estimated at USD 105.3 billion in 2009.
It's growth is one of the reasons why fish consumption per person reached an all-time high last year, according to UN Food and Agriculture Organization statistics.
Seafood is one of the healthiest and most popular sources of protein worldwide. Almost half of the seafood we eat comes from farms. This makes aquaculture, also known as seafood farming, the fastest growing food production system in the world.
The Freshwater Trout Aquaculture Dialogue today released the final draft of its global standards for certifying farmed trout. These standards will help farmers eliminate or minimize the key negative environmental and social impacts related to trout farming. The standards will be finalized and then handed over to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) after a guidance manual for auditing trout farms is completed over the next few months.
In 2007, global per capita consumption of fish was estimated at 17.8 kg, with fish
accounting for 16.6 percent of the global population's intake of animal proteins
and 6.4 percent of all proteins consumed. Globally, fish provides about 2.9 billion
people with almost 20 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein,
and 4.2 billion people with 15 percent of such proteins. Preliminary estimates for
2009 indicate a stable consumption, with the share of aquaculture production in
total food supply at 46 percent.
In 2009, china generated 62.5 percent of world aquaculture production of fish,
crustaceans and molluscs (34.8 million tonnes). Other five countries producing over
one million tonnes in the same year are india (3.8 million tonnes), viet nam (2.6 million
tonnes), indonesia (1.7 million tonnes), Thailand (1.4 million tonnes) and Bangladesh
(1.1 million tonnes). The top-ten producers also include norway (962 000 tonnes),
Chile (793 000 tonnes), japan (787 000 tonnes) and Myanmar (778 000 tonnes).