Everyone has heard about the farming of crops also known as agriculture. But not many have heard about the farming of different species of fish which is known as aquaculture. Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms that includes fish, oysters, mollusks, algae and much more. Fish farming may take place in either fresh or saltwater, including ponds, rivers, lakes and oceans. Marine aquaculture is identified as the culturing of species that live in the ocean. Next, there is freshwater aquaculture which produces species that are native to lakes, rivers, and streams.
There are many various methods to fish farming which include open-net pen system, raceways, suspended aquaculture, etc. Aquaculture production is used for many different things such as aquarium trade, pharmaceutical, nourishment and biotechnology projects. Moreover, China holds its position as first in ranking for the most aquaculture production with 58.8 metric tons. In fact, China accounts for ? of the total worldwide aquaculture production by weight and approximately half by market value. Next is Indonesia in second place with 14.4 metric tons.
Lastly, there is India in third with 4.9 metric tons. Furthermore, in 1950, the aquaculture yield was two million metric tonnes which today has transformed into 50 million metric tonnes. Much has developed since the first fish that was farmed, to specifically aquaculture in Canada and through all the challenges that are faced every day. The initial evidence of fish farming takes place before the 1000 BCE in China.
About 500 BCE, Romans would farm oysters and fish in Mediterranean lagoons and only around 1000 years ago did freshwater aquaculture develop empirically. Farming carps in ponds led to the adaption of this species in the middle ages which was also when mussel farming began. Furthermore, farmers would use liquid manure from livestock farming to spur algae growth in ponds and to add nutrients.
Pond beds were later drained to be used as fertilizer. In Europe, aquaculture first started in ancient Rome where Romans created oyster farms and utilized Assyrian vivarium, a kind of swimming pool, in which the fish and crustaceans caught in lagoons were kept alive until they were eaten. These vivaria were made inside the residences of wealthy where fishes of their choice could be held. During the middle ages, religious societies and nobility were the primary users of the freshwater fish vivaria as they had a monopoly over the land, forest and watercourses. Artificial breeding commenced in Germany during the Enlightenment, and it wasn’t until the 1860’s that trout and other salmonids settled in rivers around the world including the United States, India and New Zealand. During the 1970’s, the aquaculture industry improved due to the new, lighter, hard-wearing and less expensive building materials such as fibreglass, plastic tubes and floating cages against the costly glass and cast iron saltwater ponds. This period was also when aquaculture first came to Canada.
Aquaculture in Canada first appeared in the 1970s due to high demand for fish and seafood. Since then aquaculture has become a large-scale commercial industry across Canada. In fact, aquaculture represents about a third of Canada’s total fisheries value and about 20% of the entire seafood production. Moreover, Canada is also the fourth-largest producer of farmed salmon in the world. In the last ten years, production has increased by 63%, changing from $591 in 2003 to $962 in 2013. An equal amount of production takes place at both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and has mussel as the top shellfish aquaculture export. In 2013, British Columbia accounted for 45% of the total production volume, whereas Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island both at 15%, New Brunswick at 11% and Nova Scotia at 5%. Furthermore, a 2009 study claims that aquaculture offers about 14,000 in full-time and well-paying jobs which are mainly located in smaller coastal and rural communities.
Canada’s farmed-salmon industry alone provides more than 10,000 jobs in which most are in the coastal areas of British Columbia and New Brunswick. Also, the aquaculture industry produces a little more than half a billion dollars in labour income. Not to mention, the future of Canada’s aquaculture industry associates to its increased access to domestic and international markets, its achievement in creating stable jobs and its economic viability.
But with great things also come bad ones which unfortunately in this industry are quite dangerous. The last thing that comes up when talking about aquaculture is pollution, diseases and waste, but it’s still there. Bodies of water near fish farms are being polluted with excess nutrients, diseases are spread from farmed to wild fishes, and there are disease outbreaks. Also along with pollution, there is a high volume of waste. But that’s not it; poor land use practices take place, there is a danger of genetic inbreeding, unjust use of resources, and a health risk to farm workers from the waterborne disease. Moreover, high amounts of water are needed for fish in general, their growth, to renew oxygen and also remove waste.
Though every type varies, on average one ton of fish need eight tonnes of water. But intensive shrimp production requires ten times the more water. As a result, in the Ranot region of Thailand, the average groundwater levels lowered by four meters from 1989-1991 due to the accelerated development of shrimp ponds. This industry also leads to habitat destruction as the clearing of mangroves, coral reefs and many other places and threatens the genetic diversity through the release of farmed species into the wild. Furthermore, the industry has placed greater dependence on artificial inputs. For example, fishmeal, high-protein feed, chemicals and antibiotics. More toxic compounds are utilized in aquaculture cages for prevention from being eaten by marine animals.
Not only that but mechanization has also been introduced to the industry as the diverse pond systems are replaced with a high range of high tech and high volume systems. Some examples include tanks with mechanical controls on feed, light, growth simulations, and structured raceways providing artificial flows of water. Lastly, local waters and animals are contaminated by antibiotics and medicines that are used to keep animal crops wholesome. As the farming of aquatic organisms exists and takes place all across the world, this industry has a bright future as it proceeds to develop and mechanize, specifically in Canada. Starting with farming fishes in ponds, to in an Assyrian vivarium and now with the knowledge and access to technology. As this industry already provides approximately 14,000 jobs and produces a bit over half a billion dollars in labour income in Canada.
Furthermore, due to the rising of the aquaculture industry, the Blue Revolution has taken place. Just like the Green Revolution, which is a high increase in agriculture production, there is a Blue Revolution, a promise to match the Green Revolution’s success from the 1950s onwards.