Aviva Directory » Business & Industry » Agriculture & Aquaculture » Aquaculture

Sometimes known as aquafarming, aquaculture is the farming of fish, seaweed, and other aquatic species in all types of water environments.

The United States Department of Agriculture defines aquaculture as "the production of aquatic organisms under controlled conditions throughout part or all of their lifecycle," while Britannica describes it as "the propagation and husbandry of aquatic plants, animals, and other organisms for commercial, recreational, and scientific purposes."

Although aquaculture has existed since as far back as 500 BC, it wasn't until the mid-20th century that it achieved commercial significance. As the demand for seafood has increased, aquaculture technology has enabled fishing industries to go beyond harvesting fish and other seafood species in the wild, to grow and cultivate food in coastal marine waters and the open ocean, as well as artificial marine and freshwater environments.

Aquaculture methods have also been used to restore natural habitats, replenish wild stocks, and rebuild the genetic stock of endangered species.

In the United States, common aquaculture species include clams, oysters, mussels, shrimp, and various species of edible algae or seaweeds, as well as black sea bass, pompano, sablefish, salmon, and yellowtail. Shellfish can be farmed by seeding small shellfish on the sea floor or growing them in floating cages or cages placed at the bottom of the sea. Marine fish farming is generally accomplished in net pens in the water or in tanks on land.

Fish farming differs from commercial fishing in that the former is the farming of fish, or other aquatic plants and organisms, under controlled conditions. At the same time, the latter refers to wild-caught fish from a natural habitat, such as rivers, lakes, or oceans.

Aquaculture can be carried out in artificial environments built on land, using fish tanks, ponds, aquaponics, or raceways, where aquafarmers are responsible for controlling the water quality, temperature, oxygen levels, and feed. They can also be situated on sheltered waters near the shore of a body of water, or within fenced sections of open water away from the shore.

Today, approximately ninety percent of shrimp consumed in the United States is farmed and imported, while US freshwater aquaculture produces catfish and trout, largely utilizing ponds or other man-made systems. More than four hundred aquatic species are farmed around the world, in the ocean, along the coast, or in freshwater on land. More than sixty percent comes from inland ponds or freshwater tanks, while marine and coastal aquaculture (mariculture) account for the rest.

Although China, Indonesia, and the Philippines are the largest algae producers, there are algae farms in several other countries. Seaweed, a type of algae, is especially easy to grow. The most commonly cultivated seaweed grown in the United States is sugar kelp, a fast-growing annual crop with a two-month harvesting window. Farmed seaweed is used in industrial products, as food, as an ingredient in animal feed, and as source material for biofuels.

Aquaculture businesses and industries are the focus of topics in this portion of our web guide.



Recommended Resources

Search for Aquaculture on Google or Bing