Aquaculture is Essential

Jesse Trushenski | May 17, 2024 | Education

Agriculture made civilization and all its trappings possible, irreversibly changing the trajectory of human evolution. Aquaculture, too, is transforming the way we live for the better.

The state of world fisheries and aquaculture

Global seafood consumption has reached an all-time high, supplying needed protein in the developing world and valuable nutrients wherever it’s eaten. Two-thirds of marine stocks are currently being fished within biologically sustainable limits, but the number of overfished stocks continues to climb year after year.

Capture fisheries landings are critically important to food security, but they haven’t changed appreciably in the last 30 years. Over the same time period, aquaculture has grown to close the gap between burgeoning seafood demand and limited wild catches. Half of the fish and shellfish we eat now comes from farms.1

The many forms of aquaculture

Aquaculture has become the most important source of seafood in the world, but aquaculture isn’t just about putting food on the table.  Aquaculture is also about providing fishing opportunities and contributing to fisheries conservation.

Hatcheries operated by public agencies, tribes and first nations, and nongovernmental organizations produce fish that are released into the wild, either to support commercial or recreational fisheries or to help restore populations of imperiled species.  Aquaculture also helps support fisheries conservation efforts indirectly by satisfying seafood demand that would otherwise weigh heavily on wild populations that are already under substantial harvest pressure.

The most dangerous myth

Aquaculture faces a number of persistent, troubling falsehoods—about the use of fish in feeds, about pollution and environmental footprints, and the eating quality and nutritional value of farmed vs. wild fish. In truth, farm-raised fish and shellfish are nutritious and wholesome and can be raised economically and without damaging the environment.

Hatchery-origin fish are equally misunderstood, and the contributions of hatcheries to fisheries conservation and management efforts often go unappreciated.  But perhaps the most dangerous of all the myths about aquaculture is that it is not needed, and that we can get by just catching more fish. Dismissing aquaculture as anything less than essential isn’t just wrong, it jeopardizes our ability to feed billions without razing aquatic and terrestrial environments.

The truth about aquaculture

Aquaculture is providing essential nutrition and economic opportunity where it is needed most in the world.  Aquaculture is helping current and future generations to be healthier and better fed and to know the comfort of a well-cooked meal, as wholesome as it is delicious.

Aquaculture supports fisheries that would otherwise collapse under the influences of fishing pressure and habitat loss and pulls threatened and endangered fish back from the brink of extinction. Aquaculture provides flamboyantly colored fish for our enjoyment as pets as well as hardy aquatic guinea pigs needed for biomedical and other research.

Aquaculture feeds us, provides us with jobs and entertainment, answers important scientific questions, and helps to protect the natural and cultural legacy we will give future generations.  The truth is that aquaculture is essential, now more than ever. 2


1. Food and Agriculture Organization. 2018. State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture Report. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
2. Trushenski, J.T.  2019. Understanding Aquaculture. 5M Publishing, Sheffield, UK.

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