This article featured in Eurofish Magazine 6 2018.
Demand for fish and seafood products is growing throughout the world. Although catches from the fishing sector have stagnated since the 1990s per capita supply worldwide has increased. This is mainly due to global aquaculture which is growing year by year at impressive rates of between 6 and 8 per cent. In spite of this, fish farming is still criticised and its image is in many places far from good.
Without aquaculture it would not be possible to maintain today’s level of fish and seafood supply to mankind. Despite improved sustainability the quantity of fish landed cannot be increased at will, especially since the effects of regional overfishing, natural stock fluctuations, and climate change are difficult to calculate. With the targeted production of fish and seafood humanity has found a way out of this dilemma rendering aquaculture a logical step that has long been common and "normal" in other areas of food production such as fruit, vegetables and meat. We are all well aware of the fact that these products are not collected from the wild but are systematically grown or bred and produced by mankind according to his needs. Although agricultural production has a “head start” of hundreds of years, aquaculture is rapidly catching up, with its production capacity growing worldwide by 3 to 4 million tonnes a year. In the last decade alone it almost doubled. If this growth continues aquaculture could be on a level with traditional fishing by the beginning of the next decade.
There is a lot to be said for aquaculture. For example the fact that most of the production and spectacular growth rates are achieved in Asia and South America, thereby strengthening the economies of developing countries. Aquaculture has become an important source of income, providing welcome – and valuable – export goods. Low resource and feed requirements also clearly speak in favour of aquaculture. In the case of salmon only 1.3 kg of feed is needed for the fish to grow by one kilogram, whereas poultry need 2 kg and pigs 2.9 kg of feed. And measured in terms of land use per kilogram of protein produced, aquaculture performs better, too. Depending on farming intensity, 160 to 2,100 square metres of land area per kilogram of protein produced are required for cattle farming, whereas fish in aquaculture are presumed to require less than 25 square metres. And even when we look at nutrient emissions that contribute to the eutrophication of water bodies, aquaculture often scores better than people think, as the following table shows.
This article featured in Eurofish Magazine 6 2018.
St. Petersburg, the “Venice of the North”, hosted the second edition of the Global Fishery Forum and Seafood Expo Russia on 13-15 September 2018. The event centered on what to expect from the global fisheries industry and markets in the coming decades.
The forum brought together more than 1 100 business leaders, members of international food and fisheries organizations, specialized ministries, international seafood companies and fisheries representatives from 42 countries, including Canada, China, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Norway, and Turkey.
Asia strongly represented at aquaculture session
The session “Aquaculture production and development forecast by 2050” focused on the discussions of the state of the global aquaculture sector, its future growth, and environmental control and safety. Moderated by Ekaterina Tribilustova, Eurofish International Organisation, the session hosted experts from specialized agencies, ministries, sectorial organisations and unions from 8 countries, including the Federal Agency for Fisheries of Russia, the Union of Sturgeon Breeders of Russia, China’s Union of Seafood Processing Enterprises, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey, the Ministry of Agricultural Development of Islamic Republic of Iran and Shilat Organization for Fisheries and Fish Farming of Iran, and the National Institute of Research and Development of fisheries sector in the Republic of Korea.
At present, the aquaculture industry produces over 45% of fish and seafood products consumed globally, while the share of fish products is 53%, according to the FAO. At the same time, the global population has never consumed as much fish as now. Since 1961, the growth rates of fish consumption in the world have been two times higher than the population growth, while the production growth rates have been declining. It is expected that even growing at a slower rate the aquaculture sector can eliminate the gap between growing demand and declining resources playing a major role in providing the world population with the proteins they need. The aquaculture sector in particular has an especially important role in improving food nutrition and fighting hunger.
One of every two fish sold on the world’s markets already comes from aquaculture and this share will continue to grow in the coming years. New farming projects are added almost every day. Not all of them succeed at the first attempt for aquaculture is very susceptible to disturbances and damages. So far, however, only very few companies are insured against losses. Too expensive, too complicated, or simply not interested?
Insurance companies don’t have a very good image. They are sometimes scorned for lending out umbrellas but immediately reclaiming them when the first drops of rain fall. Nearly everyone can relate examples of how skilfully insurance companies will evade their obligations when things get really tight for the insured party. Nevertheless, interest in insuring aquaculture projects has never been greater than it is today. The gap between this increase in demand and the available offers of aquaculture insurance is getting wider and wider. More than ten years ago FAO experts estimated the number of insurance policies taken out at around 8,000, and even if this number is likely to have increased by a few thousand since then it is still negligible compared to the total number of large and small aquaculture companies which amounts to several hundred thousand! It is striking that a large share of existing insurance policies is concluded in western industrialised countries while other regions, such as large parts of Asia, which accounts for around 80 per cent of global aquaculture production, are much less represented. What are the causes of this unsatisfactory situation? Do insurance companies simply shy away from the eff ort and cost of auditing farms or, in general, from the risks of fish farming? Or is it because fish farmers fear the costs of insurance and underestimate the benefits of insurance cover? Another noticeable feature of aquaculture insurance is that many insurers only offer products for a few species and production methods: mainly for salmon and shrimps. It is much more difficult to find useful offers for new species and innovative methods. This is understandable, because insurers need a broad database and industry-specific standards in order to realistically assess the risks of aquaculture production and calculate the resulting premiums. What has long been routine in car insurance, because there are detailed time series on the type, frequency and severity of possible damage that can even be grouped regionally and for specific car types, is still very difficult in aquaculture. The diversity of species and methods can hardly be forced into uniform, universally applicable standards.
Mainstreaming IMTA calls for regulatory change
Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA), growing multiple species from different trophic levels in a system that reduces the impact of the cultivation on the environment, is potentially a way of rethinking aquaculture as it is known in the west.
Feeding a human population that is not only growing, but is also seeking greater food and nutrition security and dietary diversity will soon be a major challenge. Marine organisms constitute a much-coveted resource for seafood and many other derived products; however, there is a need to reduce the pressure on remaining fish stocks. Aquaculture, which has been growing rapidly to the point of now delivering approximately half the world’s seafood, has developed a controversial reputation in some parts of the world, due to high density operations, environmental degradation, algal blooms, and the increased risk of disease. Consequently, a major rethinking is needed regarding the functioning of an “aquaculture farm”, and innovative practices need to be developed if we want this sector to become the most efficient and responsible food production system of the future.
The EU Commission has adopted the implementing rules of organic aquaculture in the new EU Organic Regulation. The rules are geared to what is practicable and constitute only the smallest common denominator upon which all participants could agree after lengthy discussions. As was to be expected, their publication was soon followed by criticism…
For years there have been predictions that the fast-growing marine aquaculture species, cobia (Rachycentron canadum), is about to take off, but so far it has been hard to spot on the market. If you want cobia, it seems you either have to catch it yourself (it is a great game fish in Australia and southern USA), or you have to go to Asia
Modern feeds are high-tech products. They offer fishes and crustaceans in aquaculture everything they need for their existence and ensure that the organisms grow fast, remain healthy and develop normally. But who knows exactly what such feeds contain? There is probably no area of aquaculture where so many rumours are rampant, or where so much is assumed, speculated and alleged as in the feed sector.
Recirculation aquaculture is essentially a technology for farming fish or other aquatic organisms by re-using the water in the production. The technology is based on the use of mechanical and biological filters, and the method can in principle be used for any species grown in aquaculture such as fish, shrimps, clams etc. Recirculation technology is however primarily used in fish farming, and this guide is aimed at people working in this field of aquaculture.
Chapter 2: The recirculation system step by step
In a recirculation system it is necessary to treat the water continuously to remove the waste products excreted by the fish, and to add oxygen to keep the fish alive and well. A recirculation system is in fact quite simple. From the outlet of the fish tanks the water flows to a mechanical filter and further on to a biological filter before it is aerated and stripped of carbon dioxide and returned to the fish tanks. This is the basic principle of recirculation.
Sturgeon stocks are threatened worldwide by extinction. Various factors have led to a dramatic drop in populations during the last two decades. Since aquaculture can make a considerable contribution towards saving wild sturgeon and satisfying demand for “black caviar”, Aquatir Ltd decided in 2005 to build a modern recirculation system for farming sturgeon.