A recent study suggests that farmed seafood production will need to increase over 130% by 2050 in order to meet projected worldwide demand. And as production increases so too will the environmental impacts, cautions the report. But there are a number of strategies producers can take to keep impacts to a minimum while still encouraging the growth of sustainable aquaculture.
These are the findings and recommendations in the report released by the World Resources Institute (WRI), WorldFish, Kasetsart University and INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique). The report, Improving Productivity and Environmental Performance of Aquaculture, is the latest instalment of the 2013-2014 World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future.
“Increased production from aquaculture will be essential in meeting the world’s food security and nutrition needs,” said Michael Phillips, Director of Aquaculture and Genetic Improvement at WorldFish.
“Fish contribute one-sixth of the animal protein people consume, and also contain important micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids that are often deficient in the diets of the poor. But as with all agricultural production, aquaculture production has environmental impacts. Our future scenario analysis suggests that there are things we can do to reduce aquaculture’s environmental impact while increasing production. If we take action on multiple fronts, we can get aquaculture growth right.”
The report highlights five approaches to grow aquaculture production sustainably:
- Invest in technological innovation and transfer, specifically breeding and hatchery technology, disease control, feeds and nutrition, and development of low-impact production systems;
- Use spatial planning and zoning to reduce cumulative impacts of many farms and ensure that aquaculture stays within the surrounding ecosystem’s carrying capacity;
- Shift incentives to reward sustainability;
- Leverage the latest information technology, including satellite and mapping technology, ecological modeling, open data, and connectivity so that global-level monitoring and planning systems support sustainable forms of aquaculture development; and
- Shift fish consumption toward fish that are low on the food chain – “low-trophic” species such as tilapia, catfish, carp and bivalve mollusks.