Aquaculture is the controlled process of cultivating aquatic organisms, especially for human consumption. It’s a similar concept to agriculture, but with fish instead of plants or livestock. Aquaculture is also referred to as fish farming. The seafood that you find at your local grocery store is likely labeled as farmed fish. Aquaculture can happen all over the world, and it does: in coastal ocean waters, freshwater ponds and rivers, and even on land in tanks.
The methods of aquaculture’s farm-to-table process can differ from species to species. Generally, there are four stages of the production chain, starting in hatcheries and ending at the seafood counter in your grocery store.
Each of these stages can vary with respect to its effect on the environment and the quality and safety of the seafood they produce, which is why the Global Seafood Alliance administers the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) third-party certification program. In the past, fish farms have had issues with respect to these four aspects of aquaculture, and BAP seeks to improve the fish farming industry across the globe. This is the only certification program that covers every step of the supply chain
Given that overfishing of our oceans and other natural resources is continuously increasing year over year, humans need alternate sources for seafood to feed the planet’s ever-growing population. “Unfortunately, the days of the ocean’s natural productivity providing for the planet is over. Wild fish have been exploited for generations. Some estimate that the annual catch of edible marine protein has already passed its peak. The oceans cannot naturally provide the demand for seafood” (Positive Aquaculture Awareness). Aquaculture is the tool to fill in the gap of seafood supply. Farming fish responsibly and sustainably is the solution to providing future generations with access to healthy and environmentally friendly protein options.
Not only is aquaculture necessary, it is also a sustainable option for consumers, especially in comparison to other farmed proteins. Seafood is highly resource efficient — it has the highest protein retention compared to chicken, pork and beef.