Our first study into aquaculture showed us that this industry has grown rapidly and shows every sign of continuing to grow. While the aquaculture industry can be highly profitable, providing jobs and economic growth for a region, and can reduce the pressure on wild fish stocks, it is not without its issues.
An Expanding Industry Risks Damaging Wildlife
Although fish farms have notably improved the way they operate over the past few decades, there are still some cases where profitability of the business is placed above protecting the surrounding ecosystem. As a result, wildlife is damaged and biodiversity suffers.
One of the main casualties of aquaculture is mangrove forests. These important ecosystems support a wide range of species and provide coastal protection from major storms and hurricanes. Unfortunately, many are being lost to make room for the expanding aquaculture industry.
One of the benefits of aquaculture is that it can provide a sustainable alternative to consuming wild fish stocks. Overfishing and the over-consumption of certain fish has become a well-recognised issue amongst consumers in recent years. If companies want to capitalise off the environmental cache of providing a sustainable source of fish, then they must find ways to operate (and expand) without damaging mangrove forests.
Other environmental issues include high water usage, malodours from fish processing and the risk of wastewater contaminating local water sources. We discuss potential environmental issues in much more depth in our document, Environmental Hotspots in the Aquaculture Industry.
Despite Possible Environmental Issues, Aquaculture Holds Great Potential
Aquaculture has the potential to be a low-carbon, sustainable source of protein for the world’s growing population. It’s crucial that environmental issues are addressed so that it can grow sustainably and be an environmentally friendly food source.
Food and Agriculture is one of amfori’s strategic priorities for the next three years. Within Food and Agriculture, aquaculture has emerged as a priority for our members. amfori is looking forward to supporting our members to improve their global aquaculture supply chains and make them more sustainable from an environmental viewpoint.