Wild fish have been exploited for generations; therefore, aquaculture is being considered to help alleviate this issue. Aquaculture, commonly referred to as fish farming, is the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of fish, shellfish, algae, and other organisms under controlled aquatic environments in all types of water environments, especially for human consumption. It is considered to be a branch of fisheries science and can happen all over the world such as in coastal ocean waters, freshwater ponds and rivers, and even on land in tanks. Aquaculture is extensively expressive and diversified which includes the type of organism cultured, type of culture technique, the aquatic environment, and specific factors of the environment. Aquaculture produces about half the seafood available in the market today, thus fulfilling the growing demand of people worldwide and addressing the global demands for fish protein and nutrition. It saves the diversity of the aquatic ecosystem by reducing the fishing activities on the wild stock. Aquaculture is classified into different types depending on hydrobiological features, the motive of farming, and special operational techniques. Hydrobiological features are based on salinity which can be further divided into freshwater, brackish water, metahaline, and mariculture. The motive of farming is based on economic and commercial considerations which can be further categorized into an extensive, intensive, and semi-intensive fish culture. Special operational techniques can be classified into cage and pen culture. There are four stages of aquaculture starting from hatchery to transportation to a processing facility and further ending at the seafood counter in the grocery store. Certain species are grown in intensive, semi-intensive, and extensive conditions. Intensive conditions where species are first grown involve the high-density culture of organisms with total food input. Semi-intensive conditions where species are grown in nursery involve lower densities with additional food. Extensive conditions where animals are grown to full size involve a low density of organisms with little or no food input. It serves different purposes including-
- Food production
- Restoration of threatened and endangered species populations
- Wild stock population enhancement
- The building of aquariums
- Fish cultures and habitat restoration
- Energy conservation
- Generating employment
- Increased national exports
- Decreased pressure on wild fisheries
- Integrated Farming
- Promoting Agro-Industrial Development
- Alternative fuel source
There are certain disadvantages associated with fish farming ranging from disease control to environmental hazards such as environmental degradation due to the site’s location, keeping fish in close proximity increases the chances of disease, requires a more initial investment, poison agricultural land by generating large amounts of effluent, farming of exotic species would release new pathogen to the environment and increase competition for food, potentially displacing the native fish. Approximately, 13% of world fish production is currently achieved through aquaculture and it is expected that it will cover the future shortfall in the supply of fish. Regulatory agencies have implemented measures to prevent the build-up of nutrients and effluent. Safe and effective vaccinations have been developed for farmed fish thus declining the use of antibiotics.
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