Aquaculture is the farming of freshwater and saltwater organisms. Evidence of human aquaculture practices date back to as early as 6000 BC. The first commercial fish hatching operation was established in 1864.
About 430 (97%) of the species cultured as of 2007 were domesticated during the 20th century, of which an estimated 106 came in the decade to 2007. In 2004, the total world production of fisheries was 140,500,000 tonnes of which aquaculture contributed 45,500,000 tonnes or about 32%.
The growth rate of worldwide aquaculture has been sustained and rapid, averaging about 8 percent per annum for over thirty years, while the take from wild fisheries has been essentially flat for the last decade.
Environmental impact concerns include waste handling, side-effects of antibiotics, competition between farmed and wild animals, and using other fish to feed more marketable carnivorous fish. However, research and commercial feed improvements during the 1990s & 2000s have lessened many of these.
Friend of the Sea Sustainable Aquaculture Criteria require:
- no impact critical habitat (eg: mangroves, wetlands, etc)
- compliance with waste water parameters
- reduction of escapes and bycatches to a negligible level
- no use of harmful antifoulants, GMOs and growth hormones
- compliance with Social Accountability
- gradual reduction of carbon footprint