With the world’s population projected to reach 9 billion by 2050, finding sustainable ways to feed everyone is more important than ever. Aquaculture, also known as fish farming, will play a key role. According to the International Trade Administration, by 2026, the global aquaculture market is expected to reach $262 billion. It’s also expected it will produce many new aquaculture jobs. But what exactly makes aquaculture sustainable? Let’s explore some of the factors.
Choose Sustainable Species
When starting an aquaculture operation, carefully choose which species you’ll raise. Some fish and shellfish require less wild-caught fish in their feed, making them more sustainable. For example, herbivorous fish like tilapia and carp can thrive on plant-based feeds. And shellfish like oysters, clams, and mussels don’t need to be fed at all since they filter nutrients from the water. Opting for these species over predatory fish like salmon can reduce dependency on wild fisheries.
Use Recirculating Systems
Recirculating aquaculture systems allow for greater control over fish waste and water quality. Water is cleaned and recycled back into the tanks rather than discharged, conserving and reusing this precious resource. This also prevents pollution and enables high-density fish farming with minimal environmental impact. Though recirculating systems require more technology and higher startup costs, they enable increased production and sustainability over time.
Get Aquaculture Certified
Seeking third-party sustainability certification for your aquaculture operation is a smart move. Programs like Best Aquaculture Practices, Global Aquaculture Alliance, and Aquaculture Stewardship Council have standards addressing environmental, social, and food safety issues. Being certified shows customers your commitment to responsible aquaculture. It also gives you a model for continuously improving your practices. Sustainable certification can provide a marketing edge and open up new sales opportunities.
Choose Locally Sourced Feeds
When feeding your fish, choose regionally grown feed ingredients like soybeans, corn, and algae when possible. Locally sourced feeds reduce carbon emissions from long-distance transport. Feeds containing crop byproducts are also great options, as these make use of residues rather than human-edible grains. Just remember to supplement with omega-3 oils from sustainable fisheries to provide complete nutrition.
With global demand for seafood booming, sustainable aquaculture operations will be well-placed to take advantage of growth opportunities. So implement eco-friendly production methods now, and you’ll reap both environmental and economic benefits down the road. With some careful planning, your aquaculture jobs can also provide employment and contribute to local food security for years to come. If you’re looking to learn more about aquaculture jobs, reach out to Maine Aquaculture Association today.