Making Sustainable Aquaculture Affordable
The sustainable aquaculture industry has taken the world by storm and made significant global employment development changes. Approximately 820 million people work in fisheries worldwide, most of which are in developing countries.
Fish production has been deemed essential for food security and nutrition while also being the most affordable protein available in trade. For that reason, sustainable aquaculture is becoming increasingly prevalent to prevent the overexploitation of the ocean's fish populations.
However, some regions are struggling to make sustainable aquaculture work. The industry faces several challenges in Africa, such as difficulty accessing resources, information and quality feed.
The Middle East is meeting similar challenges, such as a reluctance from private investors to finance aquaculture initiatives as well as red tide algae blooms that threaten aquatic species and marine environments.
While specific problems in sustainable aquaculture require policy changes and large-scale financial undertakings, there are other considerations for making the practice more affordable.
1. Support a nutritionally balanced feed
The aquaculture industry is expanding rapidly, increasing demand for quality fish feed, but with a high price tag. In the United States, fishmeal accounts for about 60 percent of the operational costs in aquaculture.
Although it's important to consider the cost of fishmeal, it's vital to ensure fish are eating a nutritionally balanced feed. You can wind up with a poor feed conversion ratio (FCR) and higher costs by using substandard fishmeal.
Experts in the aquaculture industry look at several characteristics to understand feed performance:
- Feed palatability, or if the fish are eating the feed.
- The growth rate of the fish.
- Their overall health and immunity.
- Lower medication costs.
- Water quality.
Nutritionally balanced fishmeal can promote growth and vitality in different species at various life stages. Ensuring fish are eating a quality diet can improve your FCR and be more cost-effective.
You can further provide a nutritionally balanced feed by adding essential vitamins and minerals to the fish diet. This can enhance microflora in the gut, boost immune systems and improve nutrient uptake.
2. Create an effective management program
Implementing a sound best-practices management program for your aquaculture farm can help maintain or reduce feeding and biosecurity costs. It also can ensure optimal operational performance overall.
Management practices for aquaculture farms may include:
- Creating feeding tables and graphs to collect data regarding frequency, rations and times.
- Communication initiatives with team members to prevent overfeeding and to relay important information.
- Investing in feeding technologies or recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) to reduce costs of labor and fecal waste cleanup.
- Installing cameras to ensure environmental safety compliance.
Aquaculture farming has many pros, including curbing overfishing for consumption and allowing ecosystems to recover from overexploitation. However, having a best-practices management program can also prevent costly ecological damage.
Management programs can ensure quality control and prevent fish from escaping fisheries. It's estimated that more than 1.5 million farmed salmon escaped from fisheries between 1987 and 2008. When instances such as this occur, fish may be considered invasive and weaken the species gene pool by breeding with wild fish.
3. Maintain Water Quality
One essential way to make sustainable aquaculture more affordable is maintaining excellent water quality. From temperature to pollution, water conditions significantly impact the growth and reproduction of your fish.
Poor water conditions can lead to disease and reduced immunity. Like all creatures, even fish and shrimp excrete waste. It can contain harmful bacteria that pollute the water and endanger the fish.
Decrease water pollution by ensuring your fishmeal contains raw materials and is highly digestible. Low digestibility and palatability feed can ultimately lead to increased waste in the water.
The importance of aquaculture
Aside from supporting the livelihood of millions of people worldwide, aquaculture can provide food security and proper nutrition to the growing global population. The first step in increasing sustainable aquaculture is to make it more affordable to operate. That will make it a more attractive option worldwide.