Sustainable aquaculture

Aquatic protein or seafood is one of the fastest
growing and most highly traded food sectors. It provides an important protein source for
billions of people. We have reached a point where fishing and
the farming of fish, aquaculture, from our rivers, lakes and seas both contribute half
of the global seafood supply. Our population will reach 9 billion people
by 2050. With an increasing and aging population comes
increasing demand for food and resources and shifts in the types of food needed. Rivers and oceans will continue to provide
important sources of food. However, aquatic environments are already
strained. Improved fisheries management in many areas
and some unsustainable fishing practices in others will limit the amount of seafood that
we can obtain from fishing alone. So how can we continue to meet our population’s
requirement for seafood? Aquaculture is increasingly filling this gap. it involves the growing and harvesting of
shellfish, crustaceans, fish and seaweed in a controlled manner that, if done sustainably,
could reduce the impact of our demand for seafood on the environment. Cefas monitors and studies aquatic ecosystems
and explores the interaction between the environment, fisheries and aquaculture so that seafood
from whatever source may become more sustainable. Cefas advises home and overseas governments
to encourage a sustainable relationship between people and water. Examples may include new ways of producing
protein from aquaculture that could significantly reduce the amount of ocean space required
to produce our seafood. This reduced need for space potentially benefiting
broader marine conservation goals. Other work focuses on improving aquaculture
in low and middle income countries. Achieving sustainable aquaculture here is
important for their national prosperity and for feeding the world. Approaches to aquaculture are still developing
and the industry faces some challenges. One of the main barriers to sustainable aquaculture
is disease. Diseases have the potential to spread quickly
causing economic losses and damaging supply chains. Minimising the impact of the disease brings
us closer to realising sustainable production from this sector. Due to a lack of data and research the current
scale of the impacts of disease on global aquaculture is thought to be large but unknown. It is imperative that the government, industry
and academics work collaboratively to determine the extent of these impacts. Cefas are a global leader in aquatic health
and are designated a collaborating centre in this area by the OIE. As a global centre of excellence we work with
our partners on some of the most pressing sustainability issues facing the aquaculture
industry. Cefas and the University of Exeter have recently
established the centre for sustainable aquaculture futures to link experts in aquatic animal
health, seafood safety and broader issues of sustainability such as AMR. By improving the health and safety of consuming
seafood we will help remove one of the key barriers preventing sustainable production
from this sector. Aquaculture is the future of seafood production. We must now work collaboratively to support
enhanced sustainable production from the industry. The benefits to people and the environment
could be great.

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