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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 ?
Martinez-Cordova, "Improving feeding strategies for shrimp farming using fuzzy logic, based on water quality parameters," Aquacultural Engineering, vol.
Farmworkers, farm, ranch, and aquacultural animals was the second largest occupation in the sector, with employment of 147,510 accounting for 15 percent of agricultural employment.
There is no comparison, for instance, in the levels of product development, commercialization and exports of salmon, mussels and related aquacultural products, on one hand, and those for scallops, abalones, and seaweed on the other (BCG, 2007; IFOP, 2006).
It may be said that this artificial distribution implies risks of an ecological and pathological nature; moreover the evident aquacultural advantages, there is at least one aquacultural risk in the reduction of survival that will be commented further on.
Successful aquacultural farming of herring and sardines has developed into support industries for tuna farming by supplying tuna feed.
* Aquacultural veterinarians will serve the fish-farming industry.
Since then, catfish has become one of the most successful aquacultural enterprises.
In the next decade, the full extent of these production, disease management and environmental strategies should be realised, enabling Australia to take its place among the world's leading aquacultural producers.
And in the article on fish farming, Anne Platt MeGinn makes a similar distinction between high-profit, high-volume shrimp farms that last a mere five years before they are abandoned (an aquacultural equivalent of slash-and-burn agriculture), and the steady reliability of Chinese pond polyculture, which has lasted centuries.
The eye of the storm was to strike 70 degrees west longitude, which was exactly my position as I worked hurriedly to secure s me aquacultural tanks and pump systems near Stage Harbor.
A favorite from the south, production of crawfish is one of the largest aquacultural industries in the U.S., but seasonal harvests and limited demand outside the south may limit growth.