I keep hearing a lot about aquaculture.
Aquaculture – the cultivation of aquatic organisms such as fish or shellfish -- has been practiced since ancient times. Aquaculture in the United States began in earnest in the 1960s, with extensive research and production of catfish in the southeast. Many finfish and shellfish species, as well as aquatic plants, have been grown to marketable size in ponds, constructed raceways, containers and support structures placed in public and private waters.
On an international level, large-scale aquaculture efforts involving raising salmon and tuna species in huge net pens in oceanic waters has been employed in recent years; in fact, the majority of shrimp we find in supermarkets today comes from Asian and tropical aquaculture facilities.
While cultivation of aquatic species has been a useful tool in the restoration of some depleted populations, there are significant challenges involved. Large-scale operations are still being evaluated for possible long-term adverse impacts on the environment, genetic integrity and disease of wild populations -- due to the inevitable escape of cultivated fish into the wild population. Intensive aquaculture, where many pounds of fish are produced in a relatively small area, usually requires the use of re-circulating water systems and elimination of waste products from the system. Finally, sources of pre-adult sizes can be limited if the “seed” must be extracted from wild populations or is expensive to produce.
Still, scientists believe that aquaculture ultimately can provide a significant portion of the worlds’ seafood if water supply and pollution problems are solved.
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