World Oceans Day: Responsible Aquaculture and the Future of the Ocean

June 8th marks World Oceans Day, a global day of celebration and collaboration for a healthier ocean and a better future. At the Global Aquaculture Alliance, we define responsible aquaculture using four comprehensive pillars, and ocean health is rooted in the environmental segment.

For years, the ocean has provided us with the essential nutrients we need, but a growing demand for seafood has created significant pressure on wild fisheries. Responsible aquaculture holds the key to meeting the increasing need for food production in a sustainable way. Farming fish is not only imperative to the future of our working waterfronts, but it can help reduce the amount of resources we draw directly from the ocean.

Aquaculture has been around for centuries, and today accounts for greater than 50% of the world’s seafood produced for human consumption. By 2030, this figure will reach nearly two-thirds [World Bank], and with the world population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, aquaculture is the only feasible and sustainable way to feed suitable protein to future generations.

Today’s World Oceans Day theme, “Our Oceans, Our Future,” presents an opportunity to consider how the food on our plate impacts the future of the ocean’s ecosystem and why you might want to join us in advocating for responsible aquaculture.

Responsible aquaculture reduces bycatch. 

Aquaculture reduces bycatch, which is the incidental catch of “non-target species” such as juvenile fish, turtles and seabirds.

Farmed fish is the most efficient form of animal protein on the planet [National Geographic].

Fish process energy much more efficiently than mammals such as cows and pigs, thus requiring less feed per one pound of body mass.

Aquaculture produces less greenhouse gas emissions than other types of farming.

When compared with cattle production, salmon production produces seven times less carbon dioxide!

Bivalves improve water quality. 

For those that love to swim in the ocean, you’ll be happy to know that bivalves such as oysters, clams, mussels and scallops are filter feeders, meaning they remove excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphate from the water. This increases the clarity of the water, helps to stimulate plant growth, increases dissolved oxygen and can help to prevent harmful algal blooms.