Why Aquaculture

Thomas R Omara-Alwala
Thomas R Omara-Alwala, Fulbright Scholar, Professor of Agriculture and Director of Aquaculture Program at Lincoln University of Missouri, recipient of US patent for his contributions to discovery of scientific methods for lowering blood cholesterol




The cultivation of aquatic organisms such as fish, shrimp and seaweeds under controlled conditions is what aquaculture is about in the modern world of food production.  Aquaculture covers the rearing of both the marine and freshwater species and can range from land-based to open-ocean cultivation and production.

Fully the future of modern agriculture, aquaculture is the fastest growing sector of the world food economy, increasing at the rate of more than 10% per year and currently accounts for more than 30% of all fish consumed.

In 2004, the total world production of fisheries was 140 million tones of which aquaculture contributed 45 million tones, about one third. Over the last thirty years plus, the rapid growth rate for worldwide aquaculture has been sustained, while the take from wild fisheries has been essentially flat for the last decade. The aquaculture market reached $86 billion in 2009, up from $45.5 in 2004, a nearly 47.1% increase in the market share.

Fish production in uganda

Over the years fish in the wild have been hunted to the point where we are today unable to significantly increase the catch. In fact, since 1975, the world's catch has increased little. This is because most commercial fishing areas have reached their maximum sustainable yield. The catch cannot be increased without reducing the fish population's ability to reproduce and replenish their numbers. In addition, pollution and competition from sport fishing interests aggravate the situation.

Aquaculture production is the only way to make up the deficit and satisfy an increasing demand for high quality, safe, competitively priced and nutritious seafood and other fishery products. Aquaculture can be a major contributor to strategies to revitalize rural and coastal economies, providing alternative income, and creating challenging and rewarding jobs while preserving environmental quality, natural fisheries, and other water resources.

Shrimp production in Zimbabwe

Once aquaculture is established in a local economy, the citizens have a stake in protecting community water resources. Aquaculture production can stimulate other related economic development including feeds manufacturing, fish processing, and manufacture of supporting supplies and equipment, and other agricultural and aquatic trades.

The integration of aquaculture with other forms of Agriculture can have economic and environmental benefits. Aquaculture effluents and solid wastes can fertilize agricultural crops, hydroponic operations, and natural or constructed wetlands. Conversely, aquaculture can take advantage of societal "waste" materials. Agricultural and fisheries processing wastes can be incorporated into aquaculture feeds; nutrients from manures can stimulate primary productivity in aquaculture systems; cultivated aquatic crops can provide advanced treatment of sewage wastes, and discharged heat from power plants can reduce costs of heating water in aquaculture systems. Carefully planned aquaculture activities can establish artificial wetlands and provide habitat for natural species.

Aquaculture can also convert nonproductive land into economic assets; for example, reclamation of abandoned mine pits for fish farming.

Commercial aquaculture can reduce the cost of maintaining recreational and commercial fisheries. It can play an important role in stock enhancement of public waters as well as serve as a source of food. 

Private hatcheries can raise a wider variety of aquaculture species than their public sector counterparts can.  Thus, they can reduce the consumers’ reliance on expensive and aging public hatcheries.

Private aquaculture can help preserve biodiversity through programs to raise and stock threatened or endangered species.

Aquaculture is a highly diverse sector and consists of many species, systems, practices, environments and operations. It has a great potential for contributing significantly to the security of the supply of food and non-food products and services globally. For Africa the potential and the possibilities are limitless.