Fisheries and aquaculture make a big contribution to development in the areas of employment. Describing the importance of aquaculture is not an easy task. According to M. Shahbandeh, the number of people who were engaged in fishing and aquaculture amounted to around 40.34 million and 19.27 million respectively worldwide in 2016 and the number has been increasing day by day since 1995. The vast majority of them are from developing countries, working in fish production or fish raising, fish processing, harvesting, and small-scale fish business.
Aquaculture is the controlled process of rearing, breeding and harvesting of aquatic species, both animals and plants, especially for human consumption, though it is controlled aquatic environments like the oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams. It’s a similar conception to agriculture, but with fish instead of plants or livestock. It also serves various functions such as food production, restoration of threatened and endangered species populations, wild stock population enhancement, the building of aquariums, and fish cultures, and habitat restoration.
History of Aquaculture
The husbandry of fish is therefore not a new phenomenon. Ancient practices based on the modifications of natural bodies of water or wetlands to entrap young fish in enclosures until harvest have just evolved into more systematic and scientific methods and techniques.
Aquaculture has a long tradition, which is about 4 000 years, and form the beginning of the time man identified the importance of aquaculture.. Probably aquaculture began in China before very long ago, due to the wants of an emperor to have an unremitting supply of fish in his land. It is supposed that the proficiencies for keeping fish in ponds originated in China with fishermen who kept their extra catch alive temporarily in baskets submerged in rivers or small bodies of water created by damming one side of a river bed.(Ling, S.W,Aquaculture in Southeast Asia: A Historical Overview,A Washington Sea Grant Publication).
Another theory is that aquaculture arose from ancient practices for pinning down fish, with the operations steadily improving from trapping-holding to trapping-holding-growing, and finally into complete agriculture or farming practices.
Methods of Aquaculture
The methods of aquaculture’s farm-to-table process can differ from species to species. Generally, there are four stages of the production chain, starting in hatcheries and ending at the seafood counter in your grocery store. Four stages are:
Each of these stages may vary concerning its effect on the environment and the quality and safety of the seafood they produce.
The first stage in the aquaculture production chain is the hatchery. This is where the breeding of fish, hatching of eggs and rearing of fish through the early life stages happens.
When they are enough mature, they are transferred to the commercial farm to grow up.
They are grown to harvest size or desired weight, using feed produced at feed mills which is another stage of aquaculture.
The fish are then transported to a processing facility, where they are packaged and sent to food retailers and grocery stores, where you come in to get it.
Classifications of Aquaculture
Though various aquaculture commits are used universally in three types of the environment first one is freshwater, the third one is brackish-water (Brackish water is water having more salinity than freshwater, but not as much as seawater), and the third one is marine or saltwater for a great variety of culture organisms.
Freshwater aquaculture is carried out either in fish ponds, fish pens, fish cages, or, on a defined scale, in rice paddies.
Brackish-water aquaculture is practiced mainly in fish ponds located in coastal areas.
Marine culture employs either fish cages or substrates for molluscs and seaweeds such as stakes, ropes, and rafts.
Fish culture systems layout from extensive to intensive relying on the stocking compactness of the culture organisms, the point of inputs, and the degree of management. Where government priority is directed toward increased fish production from aquaculture to help meet domestic demand, either as a result of the lack of access to large water bodies or the overutilization of marine or inland fisheries, aquaculture practices are almost exclusively oriented toward production for domestic consumption. These practices include:
(i) Pond culture in freshwater with freshwater fish species;
(ii) Integrated farming or mixed farming;
(iii) Brackish-water finfish culture;
(iv) Mariculture with saltwater fish species,
Types of Aquaculture
Generally, fish cultivation is the elementary form of aquaculture. Fish farming means the cultivation of fish in man-made ponds, lakes, tanks, and any other enclosures commercially. The most common types of farmed fish are catfish, tilapia, salmon, carp, cod, and trout these vary from country to country and demand of the local market. With the rise in over-fishing and the demand for wild fisheries, the fish-farming industry has grown to meet up the huge demand for fish products. There are four types of aquaculture are practiced in general, which are mariculture, fish farming, algaculture, and the last one is integrated fish farming. Among these, the fourth one is the latest, and most scientific methods are applied.
It is one of the branches of aquaculture that cultivates marine organisms commercially. It may either in the open ocean, an enclosed portion of the ocean, lake or tanks, or ponds filled with seawater directly or indirectly. But containing seawater for all the time in this system is a must.
So we can say that mariculture is a particularized extension of aquaculture that is undertaken in marine environments. The organisms bred here numbers of species such as flounder, whiting, prawn, oysters, kelp, and seaweed, and other shellfish.
These sea plant and fish species are used in fabrication industries such as cosmetics and jewelry commercially. Seaweed is used to make facial creams. Pearls are picked from molluscs changing into fashionable items.
2. Fish farming
Fish farming, the well-known concept, is the most common type of aquaculture. It includes the selective breeding of fish, either in freshwater or seawater, to produce fish commercially. It is highly used as it allows for the production of a cheap source of protein for the poor and coastal countries.
It is easier to do than other kinds of farming as fish are not care-intensive, only requiring food and proper water conditions as well as temperatures.
The process is also less land-intensive as the size of ponds required at present to grow some fish species. Tilapia/catfish farming requires a smaller space than growing the same amount of protein from cattle or other livestock.
It is another form of aquaculture involving the farming of species of algae. It’s practiced is comparatively low than other forms of aquaculture.
The major partitions of it that are cultivated fall into the family of microalgae which mentioned as phytoplankton or planktonic algae also.
Macroalgae usually recognized as seaweed that also have many commercial and industrial uses. But owing to their size and the necessaries of the environment in which they need to grow, they do not lend themselves as readily to cultivation.
The uses of commercial and industrial algae cultivation, including the production of food ingredients such as omega-3 fatty acids or natural food colorants and dyes, food, fertilizer, bio-plastics, pharmaceuticals, and algal fuel. It can also be used as a means of pollution control.
However, for economic feasibility, they have to be grown and harvested in large numbers commercially. Algae are finding in many applications in today’s markets also.
4. Integrated Aquaculture
Integrated aquaculture commonly known as integrated multitrophic aquaculture is an advanced system of aquaculture where different trophic levels are mixed into the system to provide different nutritional needs for each other. It is an efficient system as it tries to simulate the ecological system existing in the natural habitat. In many situations, it is also known as mixed farming.
It makes use of these intertropical transfers of resources to ensure maximum resource utilization by using the waste of larger organisms as food sources for the smaller ones. The practice ensures the nutrients are recycled. This process is less wasteful and produces more products.
Importance of Aquaculture
All over the world, the demand for seafood is increasing rapidly as the population is increasing. It accounts for more than 50% of the world market for fish or fish products. Today people are more knowledgeable about the importance of aquaculture like seafood and its nutrias value. It provides an efficient means of protein production.
It is a regular part of the food for better health and fights cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and many other major illnesses. Aquaculture adds to wild seafood and makes it cheaper and easily accessible to all, especially the countries which depend on only imported seafood only.
The importance of aquaculture can be described in many ways, like economic importance, social importance, environmental importance, and others. Though all are related to the economic importance of aquaculture. So, here we will discuss the importance of aquaculture which is related to the economic importance of aquaculture.
The economic importance of aquaculture is discussed as follows.
1. Sources of Food
The importance of aquaculture as a source of food is indescribable. Fish and other seafood are great sources of protein for humans. They also have to a greater extent nutritional merit. We get natural oils such as omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for our health from fish. It offers us white meat which is good for the blood in reducing or controlling cholesterol levels as opposed to beef or other animal meat.
Fish is also comparatively easier to keep processing than other meat-producing animals as they can convert more feed into protein easily. Consequently, its overall spiritual rebirth from a pound of food to a pound of protein makes it more inexpensive to erect fish as they use the nutrient or food more expeditiously.
2. Sources of Fuel
Fish or aqua-cultural product is important for use as fuel for a long time. From the early time, it was not commercial but it is used today for commercial purposes as it is sustainable and eco-friendly. For, algae are tardily being formulated into substitute fuel sources by having them produce fuels that can exchange present-day fossil fuels. Algae produce lipoids that if gleaned can be cauterized as a substitute fuel source whose entire spin-offs would be water when burnt.
Such a discovery could facilitate the dependence of the world on practiced fossil fuels. It will reduce the price of energy by growing instead of drilling fossil fuels (oil, petroleum). Furthermore, algae fuel is cleaner and produces a source of energy, which means it can overturn the energy sector and create a more sustainable and eco-friendly economy that heads off the thundering nature of oil and replaces it with a more ample fuel source.
3. Job Opportunities
Aquaculture is creating an increasing number of job opportunities. Potential jobs in the market as it creates both new products for a market and creates job opportunities for the laborers are needed to keep up the pools and harvest the organisms grown properly. The rise in jobs is in general recognized in third-world countries or under-developing countries as an aquaculture provider both in food sources and additional sources of income to supplement those people who live in these areas. So economic importance of aquaculture is increasing day by day.
World Employment for Fishers and Fish Farmers; 1995 to 2018
It also economizes fishermen’s time as they do not need to spend their whole days at sea fishing. It allows them spare time to engage in other economic activities such as employment in the substitute business sector. This increase in entrepreneurship provides more employing possible action and more occupations.
4. Reduce Trade Deficit
The most indescribable economic importance of aquaculture is reducing the trade deficit of aquaculture-developed countries. All countries in the world are not in the same geographical location, some are landlocked, like Nepal, Afghanistan, Bhutan, and some are water-locked like Japan, Sri Lanka, so all countries do not abound in fish or seafood. Some countries export seafood and some countries import seafood. The seafood trade in America is primarily based on trade from Asia and Europe, and most of it is imported. The consequent equilibrium places a trade deficit on the nation. On the other hand, Asia and European countries import industrial or heavy products from America.
Again it would provide a means for the diminution of this shortfall at a comparatively lower opportunity cost as local production could mean that the seafood would be fresher. It would also be more inexpensive on account of cutting down transport costs.
5. Pollution Control
As we know that soil is the natural filter of the earth molluscs or seaweed act like that. Seaweed acts are not forgettable as a lot like the grass of the sea is filtering our nature continuously. Both these beings strain the water that flows through them as brought in by the current and clean the water as well. This system allows for a buffer state that defends the rest of the sea from contamination from the land, specifically from actions that agitate the sea bed and raise dust.
Again, the economic importance of aquacultures like molluscs and seaweed can create an additional force from authorities to defend their habitats as they assist economic grandness. The financial welfare is accomplished to provide a bonus for the government or authorities to defend the seas to protect seafood revenue as well.
6. Reducing Wild Stock Pressure
The pattern of aquaculture permits substitute reservoirs of food instead of fishing the same species in their biological habitats. Population numbers of some wild stocks of some species are at risk of being run through due to overfishing by people forgetting the importance of aquaculture and its systems.
Aquaculture offers a substitute by allowing farmers to spawn those same species in enslavement and allow the wild populations to regenerate. The inducement of to lesser extent labor for more gains drives fishers to convert to fish farmers and make even more earnings than before. It also allows the check of the provider of the fish in the market giving them the power to generate excess stock or reduce their production to reap the best earnings uncommitted.
7. Using Sea Resources Sustainably
At present as using sea resources sustainably the importance of aquaculture and its systems is indefinable. Aquaculture provides alternative resources for fishing from the sea. Enhanced demand for nutrients or food sources and an increase in globalization has conducted enhanced fishing. At the same time, this has guided fishermen to become selfish and overfish the wanted or high-demand species. The cultivation of fish or aquaculture, it allows for both an alternative and a chance for wild stocks to refill over time.
8. Biodiversity Conservation
Aquacultures show the way of cultivation of various fishes whether cultivated or wild. Artificial aquacultures help us to defend biodiversity by reducing the fishing activities on the wild stock in their ecosystems. By creating alternatives to fishing, there is less attack on the wild fish’s sticks of the various species in the sea or any other natural reserves. Reduced activity of fishing saves the variety of the aquatic ecosystem from extinction on account of overfishing.
9. Efficiency Increasing
Another importance of aquaculture is increasing efficiency. Fish is more efficient to convert feed into body protein than any other protein-containing meat like cattle or chicken meat. It is much more effective meaning that the fish companies make more food for less feed comparatively. Such efficiency means that less food and energy are used to produce food, and the production process is more inexpensive as well. It economizes resources and even permits more food to be produced leading to ensuring reserves and less stress on the environs.
10. Reduce Environmental Disturbance
At present in reducing environmental disturbance the importance of aquaculture is indescribable and it is well-known to all. By increasing and practicing aquaculture commercially, fish farming in specific, there is a reduced need for the fishing of the wild stock. As a result, it puts less pressure on the environment and equally reduces human interference as well. Actions of powerboats and other human being determine such as the removal of viable breeding adult fish are all stresses put on the aquatic ecosystems. Their discontinuation allows also the ecosystem to bloom and find its natural balance.
Though the importance of aquaculture can’t be described in words some people are trying to hunt our valuable natural species indiscriminately. Some of them are abolished forever and some of them are on the way to abolish. So it is time to save them, though at present many counties have taken an initiative to protect these sea resources.
FAO has also taken some initiatives as a part of the execution of the Code of Conduct, particularly Article 9 (Aquaculture Development) the department takes charge of numerous activities related to the promotion of creditworthy aquaculture or fish farming and to ensure the best management practices for sustainability, food safety, and environmentally friendly ways for farmed fish and shellfish production.
Read Here: Steps For Environmentally Sustainable Fish Farming