Feeding a growing world population could become problematic, but aquaculture might hold the key. If humans are anything, we are resourceful. We see a problem with the world, and we do what we can to fix it. When being nomadic and following food sources was no longer sustainable, we solved the problem by developing agriculture. Currently, as the population continues to grow and our taste for seafood increases, we’re trying to find ways to meet demand and, at the same time, sustain wild populations of fishes.
Aquaculture is the answer to this current dilemma. Farming fish for food has been around since about 2000 B.C. Since then, technology has helped it advanced and developed better techniques to raise fish for food.
Benefits of Aquaculture
Fish is a great source of protein, and it also contains essential minerals including potassium, zinc, iodine and magnesium. Fish are also rich in phosphorus and calcium. For a healthy heart, the American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week.
The health benefits of fish are more than enough reason to eat them, but they are also a delicious meal. There is a large variety of fish to choose from, including freshwater and saltwater varieties. However, the increased amount of people eating fish has had an impact on wild populations. To prevent certain species from being overfished, it is important to find an alternative to providing fish to people, and that includes aquaculture.
Different types of aquaculture must be used to raise different species of fish. Large companies can engage in aquaculture on an industrial scale with fish held in tanks or in pens in lakes, ponds or even the ocean. Families can even perform aquaculture in their backyard. The variety of fish that you can raise for food includes catfish, bait minnow, trout, carp and tilapia, among others. It’s also possible to raise shellfish, including oysters and shrimp. Want to try your hand at growing water plants? You can also use aquaculture principles for water chestnuts and red and brown algae.
Studies have shown that marine aquaculture has the potential to produce 16.5 billion tons of fish per year, which is more than enough to feed the growing population and meet nutritional needs.
In some areas, such as parts of Africa, aquaculture has made an enormous impact on the local community’s economy and employment as well. The food produced helps to sustain Africa’s growing population and provides local jobs with steady income.
The Downside of Aquaculture
While it has the potential to feed hungry communities and contribute to local economies, there are some problems associated with aquaculture. Having too many fish in a tank can lead to the spread of disease. Also, the type of feed the fish eat can impact how healthy they are for humans. Keeping fish in pens in lakes, ponds or the ocean might cause the spread of parasites to wild populations. Farmed fish could also escape their enclosure and, as a result, alter the natural ecosystem.
Recognizing the shortcomings of aquaculture is the first step to remedying its problems. As technology and farming practices advance and techniques improve, it’s possible that we will resolve many of these issues. This will lead to greater benefits for the human population that depends on fish for food.
Humans have the ingenuity and drive to make the world a better place for themselves and others. Population growth isn’t going to slow down any time soon, and we need to make sure everyone is taken care of and has enough to eat. While aquaculture has its pros and cons, it can be a sustainable and economic way to feed hungry people. In time, it may even be the answer to world hunger.