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Aquaculture and sustainability: can the two go hand in hand? - Rariplast
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Aquaculture and sustainability: can the two go hand in hand?

Aquaculture and sustainability: can the two go hand in hand?

There are numerous innovative projects and scientific studies underway to invest in reducing the environmental impact on fish resources. Here are some of our thoughts on the matter

 

Aquaculture refers to the production of aquatic organisms in confined environments controlled by humans. Molluscsfish, crustaceans and seaweed are all bred in warm and cold waters depending on the natural habit of the species.

This type of marine farming dates back to ancient times – as far back as 2500 BC, based on a bas-relief found in an Egyptian tomb depicting a man collecting tilapia from a pond. Since then, this practice has continued to spread, and it remains a rapidly growing sector today: many species are seeing year-on-year increases of over 10%.

Extensive, semi-intensive and intensive aquaculture

This classification of aquaculture derives from the level of human intervention, which varies in how invasive it is. Based on this, a distinction is made between:

  • Extensive farming: the marine organisms feed totally independently, with no human intervention. Breeding areas are extensive and can be situated in coastal areas, lagoon environments, or even lakes and dams when it comes to freshwater species. From an economic point of view, both investments and profits are low. From an environmental standpoint, however, this method aids the recovery and conservation of environments and the aquatic species that live in them.
  • Semi-intensive farming: an intermediate solution where production is of the order of tons per hectare.
  • Intensive farming: farming is managed based entirely on human intervention. Advanced technology allows the breeder to administer food, maintain adequate levels of dissolved oxygen, and remove the waste substances produced. The spaces used in intensive farming are small and are mostly PVC, fibreglass or concrete tanks. The initial economic investment is higher, but so is the production of kilograms of fish per square metre.

Fish has excellent nutritional properties: it is rich in minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, iron, magnesium, iodine, selenium and fluorine, and it also contains proteins, amino acids and fats including Omega-3s, which can help prevent cardiovascular diseases. For all these very valid reasons, it is important to preserve our planet’s fish resources. The population of fish, algae and crustaceans in general is not unlimited, and 96% of deep-sea fish stocks in the Mediterranean are overfished.

What’s more, there are over 700 edible marine species in our oceans, but only 10% are commercialised. This is a great shame, because our marine reserves are beginning to run out.

There are numerous innovative projects and scientific studies underway to invest in reducing the environmental impact on fish resources. In particular, the development of aquaculture can only happen by means of the blue economy, a business model that creates a sustainable ecosystem by transforming wasted substances into profitable commodities.

Thanks to this reduction in waste, we will be able to mitigate humanity’s impact on marine organisms – hopefully at an ever-increasing rate.

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