Seafood is one of the most popular sources of protein worldwide. Aquaculture is a critical method to meet that worldwide need, it also provides employment and a source of income for people around the world. However, if there is to be enough fish for the future generations, aquaculture must be practiced responsibility.

Almost half of the seafood we eat today comes from farms.  Aquaculture is also one of the fastest growing food producing industries around the world. The rapid growth of fish farming can have a profound impact on the environment if not done responsibly.

Negative impacts of fish farming

A significant amount of the world’s demand for protein is met through farmed fish. Fish farms and fisheries need to work hard to manage their farms responsibly to avoid negative impacts on the environment. Aquaculture can lead to high levels of pollution. Runoff water from fish farms can contaminate nearby natural bodies of water causing diseases and disturbances in the wild fish stocks, as well as disrupt the natural ecosystem. Feeding carnivorous fish with wild caught smaller fish such as anchovies or herrings also causes controversy around the world.

fish-684399_1280Aquaculture, like most other sectors of agriculture, has evolved with time, resulting in new technologies and practices which may not always have a sustainability focus. Several elements, such as chemical based herbicides, pesticides, synthetic food, GMO and so on, were introduced in the agricultural system with a production focus. These were meant to increase production and profits by reducing pathogens and weeds. However, their impact the surrounding ecosystem and community was not always strongly considered.

Concerns with responsible use of resources, use of chemicals, and genetic modification of crops and organisms in agriculture have been a point of dispute for a long time in the agricultural sector. These same issues have become more prominent in aquaculture as the practice has become more common and the scale of individual operations has grown.

So, how do you practice aquaculture responsibly without impacting the environment?

Creating global standards

Due to the controversial issues related to aquaculture it has fallen on international agencies, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, (FAO, Department of fisheries), to coordinate and set the recommended standards. These standards focus on ways to support sustainable and environmentally safe aquaculture practices to guarantee the best possible populations of harvestable fish for future generations.

The global code of conduct

gold-fish-674110_1280The member countries of the FAO adopted the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in 1995. These codes are voluntary rather than mandatory and meant as a guideline for anyone involved in the industry to follow to achieve a higher standard of sustainable production. Implementing and committing to the goals and principles of these codes worldwide would reduce impacts of agriculture significantly. The code of conduct can be found on FAO Fisheries Department Website on the Internet.

How you can help

A stronger commitment to responsible agriculture is needed, not only by farmers but also by government and non-government agencies and maybe most importantly by consumers. It is the responsibility of every individual, including consumers and producers, to know the impacts of fish farming and the best practices for aquaculture. Only with increased awareness and knowledge among the population can the potential ecological impacts of aquaculture be minimized. Improved coordination and policies as well as global monitoring is needed for management of environmentally sustainable aquaculture.

Our goal is to spread awareness and present information to anyone directly or indirectly involved with the aquaculture industry. We are dedicated to improving the planet and making it better for our generation as well as for future generations.

If you want to become a more  sustainable farmer, please let us know, we would love to help you improve your sustainable practices. To learn more about responsible aquaculture practices please give us a call at (303) 495-3705 or click here to book a meeting with us.

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Watch a replay of our free NTP/CEED webinar with Russ Biaggne. Russ has done extensive research on declining populations of salmon and steelhead that are considered endangered species today.

Video Source: Ecolonomics

Source: Worldwide Aquaculture

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