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aquaculture, the raising and harvesting of fresh- and saltwater plants and animals. The most economically important form of aquaculture is fish farming, an industry that accounts for an ever increasing share of world fisheries production. Formerly a business for small farms, it is now also pursued by large agribusinesses, and by the mid-2010s it had become as significant a source of fish as the as wild fisheries.

Successful aquaculture takes into consideration the biology of the aquatic species (feeding, water flow and temperature needs, disease prevention) and engineering design (water source and water quality study, pond and tank containment systems, water filtration and aeration) as well as issues pertinent to any business. Common products of aquaculture are catfish, tilapia (St. Peter's fish), trout, crawfish, oysters, shrimp, and salmon, and tropical fish for aquariums. Caviar from farm-raised sturgeon is one of the more expensive and exotic aquacultural products. Some are raised in huge freshwater tanks or ponds; others require the running water of rivers or streams. Saltwater species are often raised in saltwater ponds, in enclosed bays, or in pens placed in coastal or deeper sea waters.

There are potential environmental problems associated with aquaculture. Most of the fish that are raised are genetically altered or hybridized for quick growth. If they escape into the wild, they compete against and can crowd out smaller or less voracious native fish. Confined fish can become a breeding ground for diseases or pests, which can be transmitted in some cases to wild fish; confinement also makes the fish more suspectible to attacks by some naturally occurring pests, such as some species of jellyfish, that would be less likely to trouble dispersed wild fish. The food fed to the fish raised in aquaculture facilities may include fishmeal and fish oil derived from fish stocks in marine ecosystems, in some cases byproducts of processing wild caught fish, but in other cases wild caught fish, potentially undermining marine fisheres. In addition, the large amounts of water that are used in freshwater aquaculture become laden with fish feces and unconsumed food that, if not removed through treatment or used as agricultural fertilizer, can add injurious amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus to a river or stream when the water is returned to it. Development of improved recirculating-tank technologies, however, may lead to a reduction in such pollution threats, as well as the spread of aquaculture to areas where large volumes of water are not available in the environment (see also aquaponics).

The practice of aquaculture dates back to 1000 B.C. in China. It is growing worldwide, in part in response to overfishing and the deterioration of the world's fisheries and concerns about the effects of pollution on seafood. In the United States, aquaculture is also a response to the increased demand for fish and shellfish as a result of changes in the nation's eating habits.


See M. Landau, Introduction to Aquaculture (1992).

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McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
He expressed these views during a briefing here in which he was informed in detail about the current state of affairs in fish-farming in the country and the potential of this sector.
He said the government would take all possible measures to facilitate the people related with fish-farming so as to benefit from the potential of this sector.
The protesters say the fish-farming operations threaten wild fish stocks, and that the company never signed agreements with their communities to operate on their traditional territories.
Some concerns about fish-farming were heightened this summer after pens holding an estimated 305,000 Atlantic salmon were damaged at a fish farm in the San Juan Islands, a Washington State island chain that faces Vancouver Island, allowing some of the fish to escape.
Local ponds are being used for fish-farming under the self-employment scheme.
government continue to pursue initiating a commercial-scale ocean fish-farming program when it could cause so many domestic problems?
In September 2002, the Commission unveiled its strategy for EU fish-farming, claiming that it could create up to 10,000 jobs in the industry over five years.
Minister of Fisheries John van Dongen found himself in hot water and had to resign after a RCMP probe began into his questionable dealings with a fish-farm concern, Then his replacement, Stan Hagen, was likewise challenged for receiving money from the fish-farming industry.
Nonetheless, the threat to Atlantic salmon is so severe that the FWS and NMFS have called for reducing water diversions to increase river flows, tighter restrictions on sport-fishing, and closer regulation of fish-farming.