There are about 7 billion people living on this planet nowadays, and the number just keeps on increasing. All those people need to be fed constantly every day, and indeed food production is the biggest industry nowadays.
The problem with food industry is that to feed all those people we need sufficient resources too. To get the amount of resources needed nowadays we need to exploit the nature. Again, we should warn you that the number of population will keep on increasing.
More and more exploitation to fulfill our needs will eventually lead us to total destruction of the nature. This is the reason why we need alternative resources, the alternative source of food that doesn’t burden the nature much.
Aquaculture can provide us alternative source for marine resources, and actually it can help us in nature conservation too. How can aquaculture do such thing? Here in this article we will tell you how.
Dealing With Numbers
Our worldwide fish consumption has increased significantly in the last four decades, compared to earlier times. Data recorded that in 2005, the amount of fish consumption per capita has reached 16.4 kilograms worldwide and the number keeps on increasing for sure.
If we take the number and multiply it with 7 billion people, then the number will reach more than 120 billion tons every year. That’s the amount of marine creature we take from the ocean every year. Isn’t it enormous number we are talking about?
The problem is, with current condition of earth, the number of fish in the ocean keeps on declining. We take such great amount of resources from the ocean, but how can we be so sure that fish in the ocean are doing well to keep up with our needs?
Another thing that we should note is our seafood consumption is limited to specific species. Surely we don’t include orca and dolphins in counting the numbers. The species most likely included in the number are sardine, tuna, lobster. It means that our choice of food is so limited.
The last thing that we should consider is that the distribution is not equal. People in Asia and Africa eat more fish than the rest of the world, that if we exclude China’s fish consumption alone, we already take 2 kilograms off from the total seafood consumption per capita.
From what we talked about above, there are some problems we are facing nowadays. First, we eat a lot of seafood every year that we constantly ‘harvest’ from one main source: the ocean. In this case, we literally take from the nature, without being able to contribute back to them.
The second is, we have very selective preference in what kind of fish to eat. It means we exploit only specific kind of resource, an enormous amount of it, and this trend is likely to continue for some more decades.
With this current condition of earth where global warming, climate change, acidification, and rising ocean temperature, we cannot say that those species we choose to be consumed will be able to keep up with the number.
This is why we need alternative source for such resources. The next question is, what can replace the ocean to be our main provider of marine protein? One suggested option is aquaculture, which is also known as aquafarming.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), aquaculture is “Farming of aquatic organisms including fish, mollusks, crustaceans and aquatic plants. Farming implies some form of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc.”
Basically it is just like farming on the land. The only difference is that we do it in controlled aquatic environment. We what kind of resources to farm, we feed them, we take care of them, and then we harvest the resources.
If you ever wonder whether fish ponds and fish pens are aquaculture, the answer is yes. This practice is called freshwater aquaculture. But what not so many people realize is that we can do it too with saltwater creatures.
Back to the definition of aquaculture, we need to mention the term ‘controlled conditions’. This is the thing that we are going to point out here. With aquaculture, we are not merely harvesting natural resource, but we have control over what we do.
Using aquaculture, we can also cultivate seafood products like lobster, crabs, even many kinds of fish under controlled conditions. This way, we have the power to control the number of resources to be farmed, where to farm it, how to determine the quality of the resources, and totally separate it from natural world.
But not only plants, we can also do it to aquatic plants like algae and seaweed. Both of those are used largely for industrial uses like cosmetics and food production. However, up to nowadays, most of those products are taken from the wild.
Aquaculture And Conservation
So, what’s the connection between aquaculture and conservation? Here is the thing, using aquafarming, we can breed our own endangered species without harming natural population, yet still able to fulfill the demands for the products.
Such kind of practice has been done with sturgeon to farm their infamous roe, caviar. The Caviar Factory, a caviar producing company from Romania, has been harvesting caviar from sturgeon raised in controlled conditions.
Using controlled environment, the company is able to maintain not only their quantity of their production, but also their quality. Using Recirculating Aquaculture System, Company owner Daniel Tabacaru said that he has been able to remove up to 99% pollutants in water.
Controlled environment also helps them to collect data about their products, and even inform the customers about it. “Each batch of our caviar will be accompanied by a roadmap diary illustrating the environmental quality of the product during its growth stages,” Tabacaru said.
Now, the company has been working with fishermen to help them set up fish farms to help reduce illegal fishing and trade of the fish. This way, the company has helped global sturgeon population in the wild to thrive into more stable number.
The Caviar Factory is just a simple example of how aquaculture can help us conserve endangered marine creatures. So, looking on how The Caviar Factory produce their high-quality caviar, why don’t we just apply aquaculture to wider range of marine produce?