Aquaculture is best described as the cultivation of aquatic animals or organisms for the purpose of controlling conditions as a means for production. The production process varies based on the species that is being farmed. Often, the organisms are comprised of fish, plants and shellfish. Aquaculture is utilized for a myriad of reasons, all serving a specific purpose-mainly consumption. The easiest way to think of aquaculture is to relate it directly to the concept of traditional farming. Instead of sowing the land, the farmer farms the water. Aquaculture refers to a myriad of species, typically living in freshwater conditions. As for species residing strictly in salt water conditions, the technical term is ‘Mariculture.’ Aquaculture has a long and detailed history dating back thousands of years. The concept was introduced as a method to control plants and fish in their natural environments, albeit lakes, rivers, and oceans.
Today, aquaculture has evolved into creating artificial environments and conditions to cultivate plants, fish and shellfish in sustainable tanks on land, as well as in the ocean. With this method, farmers can better control the conditions in which the species exists with less risk of pollution playing a role in production. In terms of the United States’ contribution to aquaculture, it is considered the fastest growing facet of agriculture throughout the nation. The transition from operating strictly near or in waterfronts to land-based tanks has made it easier for farmers to maintain quality as well as safety. With the tank format, water is refreshed and recycled from either a well or the surface, keeping conditions optimal for whatever the tank is holding for cultivation purposes.
A lot of what you buy from the seafood section of your local grocery store is in fact the product of fish farming. Some of the most commonly purchased farm-raised species include trout, salmon, oysters and clams. There has been a noticeable push for aquaculture initiatives in the United States in particular. For example, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, which is a recognized agency dedicated to aquaculture, has imposed federally mandated guidance and finance for various states with the aim of properly supporting and encouraging the prosperity of aquaculture.
There are plenty of benefits involved with aquaculture, so it isn’t really a surprise that it is rapidly expanding across the nation as a means for seafood production. Seafood is in constant demand, therefore a sustainable and reliable method of producing it is optimal. So, to that end, aquaculture is beneficial from an economic standpoint. However, there are a few challenges attached to aquaculture that should be addressed. The biggest issue fisheries and fish farmers face is trying to keep conditions clean and safe for the organisms living in the tanks. Keeping the water free from feces, chemicals and other contaminants is not easy depending on the system that is in place.
The concept of aquaculture is positive in theory. History has shown us that it is an incredibly effective way to produce the seafood that we enjoy at our local markets. Since aquaculture demands a controlled environment, the margin for error or inefficiency is minimized, which is good for consumers of seafood.