There is a universal rule when it comes to succeeding in business, and that is supply always comes on the back of demand. Needless to say, when you are looking at industries where the demand is seriously high, you’ll have a tough job finding something more potent than fish. The world’s appetite for fish has just gone up and up and up and, to meet that, so has aquaculture.
It has doubled in the last twelve years, and it will need to do so again in order to meet the demands. The question is, how can you approach aquaculture to make it sustainable, which is the key to getting it right?
Innovation Is The Key To Advancement
As an industry, aquaculture is still immensely young, especially compared to agriculture. It is just years behind. But investment in this area is the key to success because it is the key to controlling disease, maximizing nutrition and drastically improving output. Technological innovations have allowed businesses the world over to ramp up their productivity gains, and that is now happening in the aquaculture industry too, thanks to a combination of farmers, researchers, governments, and businesses. The most famous example of this is Vietnam’s catfish industry, where high quality and pelleted feed was adopted in the year 2000 on a grand scale. Ten years later, the pond area had only doubled, but the production had grown from 50,000 tons to 1,000,000.
Information Technology Must be Used
This has been an area that has come to the forefront of so many industries in recent times, and it could be the best way for aquacultural businesses to start planning for the future and start demonstrating sustainability. Mapping technology, oxygen flow meter advancements, ecological modeling, open data and more open communication and connectivity are all showing how sustainability in this area is possible. Not only that, but they will be able to help businesses improve spatial planning and better monitor their farms, while also allowing those who are harming the sustainability to be held accountable. This could be at a business level, or it could be at a governmental level. Either way, it will help fish farming reach the supply levels needed.
Change Eating Habits
The most efficient way that fish farming and aquaculture can ease the pressure on marine ecosystems is if these farmed fish don’t need so much wild fish to be included in their diets. That’s where consumer habits can have a huge difference. It won’t mean stopping our consumption altogether, but by eating those fish slightly lower on the food chain – like catfish and carp – we can ensure that the billion poor people who rely on fish as their main source of protein will still have enough fish to eat. As an industry, the emphasis needs to be placed on low-trophic fish, especially among those in developing countries with a growing middle-class. This is where a growth in aquaculture is needed most because the nutritional needs of these people will need to be met in order for fish – both farmed and wild – to be sustainable in the long run.
Time To Reward Sustainability
One of the most effective ways to get the attention of farmers and start pushing them to be that much more sustainable in their methods and practices is to give them incentives; to reward them. Unfortunately, the developed world is not doing it’s part here, not compared to those in developing nations, such as Thailand. Here the government has been giving local shrimp farmer’s access to free training, wastewater treatment, and water supply, so long as they operate legally and in the permitted zones. This isn’t all, though. They have also begun giving out extremely low-interest loans and huge tax breaks to small local farming businesses in order to help them improve their technology. The reason for this is, better technology will allow them to improve their production while easing the pressure to clear yet more land.
Now more than ever, aquaculture farms and businesses are needed, which is why their involvement will only grow. However, in order to be successful, they need to ensure that they get their approaches to growth absolutely spot on in order to ensure that aquaculture and fish farms are able to consistently supply food sustainably. The bottom line is, the wild fish supplies are not just stagnant , but in decline, and the human population is drastically increasing.
So, yes, aquaculture isn’t going anywhere and, as an industry, could be on the brink of something huge, and will most likely see businesses and governments align themselves with that reality.
Maria Fonseca is the Editor and Infographic Artist for IntelligentHQ. She is also a thought leader writing about social innovation, sharing economy, social business, and the commons. Aside her work for IntelligentHQ, Maria Fonseca is a visual artist and filmmaker that has exhibited widely in international events such as Manifesta 5, Sao Paulo Biennial, Photo Espana, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Joshibi University and many others. She concluded her PhD on essayistic filmmaking , taken at University of Westminster in London and is preparing her post doc that will explore the links between creativity and the sharing economy.