What if modern aquaculture would be the answer to protecting our oceans?

Shrimp cultivated in ponds could become even more of the ‘dish of the day’ in future as the world seeks sustainable sources of protein and a way to save our seas, explains Bayer Animal Health’s global species manager for aquaculture, Jan Koesling.

 

The global population is growing. It’s estimated to reach almost 10 billion by 2050,1 and we have just thirty years to ensure that we protect our resources and that there will be enough nutrition for everyone.

The most abundant source of protein is in the sea. But we’re facing a dilemma – wild fish stocks have reached their limit for sustainable fishing. For more than a decade fisheries have recorded stagnated or smaller catches, while overfishing is leading to dangerously low levels of some aquatic animal species in the ocean.

What are we to do now?

Aquaculture, specifically pond aquaculture, may provide an answer. It has developed considerably over the last decade, faster than any other livestock sector. For example, pond aquaculture is now responsible for nearly 50 percent of fish consumed and 55 percent of shrimp produced globally.2,3

The problem is, when people hear the term ‘aquaculture’, they think of marine aquaculture and its potential impact on the environment.

 

Pond aquaculture differs considerably from the marine variety. Production utilizes land that is often not suitable to efficiently sustain crops and is not connected with the ocean. Plus, there are important economic benefits – this land often exists in low income communities and shrimp production creates jobs to alleviate poverty in these areas.

It is important to understand that the aquaculture industry has evolved and rapid advancements in technology have enabled pond aquaculture to be more sustainable than ever before.

In modern shrimp aquaculture, for example, we now have shrimp seedlings with a more defined health status. Farmers also place great emphasis on biosecurity as a healthy pond environment is vital for cultivating healthy shrimp. Aquaculture farmers increasingly invest into in-door culture systems that enable better control of culture conditions, innovative water treatment products, and recirculate water to limit water exchange with the open sea environment. Not only does this reduce disease risk, but it also puts the industry on the path towards true sustainability. 

In future, shrimp is likely to contribute even more significantly to our diets. Among the high value aquatic species cultivated globally, the volume output of shrimp today already ranks the highest and demand continues to grow.

While aquaculture can help contribute to better food security, it will also help to conserve the world’s ocean resources. If much of our seafood came from pond aquaculture, we could see aquatic animal species rebound from the dangerously low levels we are recording today.

In short, supporting advancements in aquaculture could both protect our oceans and provide sustainable food for future generations. And we, at Bayer Animal Health, are committed to continue bringing innovative solutions to this space.

 

Shrimp in a basket
In aquaculture, farmers place great emphasis on biosecurity as a healthy pond environment is vital for cultivating healthy shrimp.

 

 

References:
1 United Nations, World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision
2 http://www.fao.org/fishery/aquaculture/en
3 https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/farmed-shrimp