Aquaculture: Protecting Natural Fish Stocks

Date: 17/09/18

Aquaculture: Protecting Natural Fish Stocks

As discussed in our previous aquaculture blog, fish and seafood farming is a major food provider across the world. In fact, in recent times aquaculture has taken over from wild fish and seafood catches as the number one source, in much the same way that farmed land animals took over from hunted food in the past.

Farming fish and other seafood not only ensures a high quality, dependable supply for a growing population, it also has a number of environmental benefits too, from protecting natural fish stocks and marine environments, to positively improving local water conditions around the farms themselves.

The importance of protecting natural fish stocks has been seen many times, with overfishing bringing several species to the brink of extinction. The cod stocks of the North Sea fell by 84% between the 1970s and the mid 2000s, leaving them close to collapse. Only as a result of severe restrictions on fishing have the numbers been able to recover, putting cod back on the menu. A similar situation occurred in Canada, but as yet these fisheries have yet to recover. 

Aquaculture not only protects the species being fished, it also protects other species that inevitably get caught up in the process. This includes juvenile fish that are essential to the future of fish stocks.

Not only does overfishing directly reduce fish stocks, it can also have a devastating effect on the balance of marine environments. Overfishing of trout, for example, can lead to an increase in carp numbers, which in turn creates unfavourable conditions for trout numbers to recover. Similarly, in the Irish sea, overfishing has led to a lack of competition that has allowed jellyfish numbers to proliferate. This kind of ecosystem shift can cause serious and lasting harm to commercial fishing areas, which may never recover.

In most cases, aquaculture avoids the negative impacts of commercial fishing, creating a reliable, environmentally friendly supply that does not harm the natural ecosystems. This is not always the case, however, particularly with carnivorous fish. While farming salmon means we can enjoy the fish without impacting on numbers in the wild, it does take several pounds of fish meal from wild fish to create one pound of salmon.

Sometimes, fish farming can have a surprisingly positive effect on the local marine environment. Farming shellfish, such as mussels and oysters, can actually clean the local waters as the molluscs filter algae out of the water. The process removes nitrogen and increases the oxygen levels in the water, leading to an increase in biodiversity. This can have a striking impact on the local environment, with one study showing that the local biomass increases by 2.57kg for every 10sq metres of oyster beds.

From reducing the risks from overfishing to cleaning the seawater itself, aquaculture is protecting our natural fish stocks across the globe. And now, as part of the worldwide Kersia Group, Kilco can play a global role in supporting this essential industry with products covering everything from tank cleaning and disease prevention at source, to the protection of transport and processing plants.

With aquaculture now contributing more to our food supplies than traditional fishing, Kersia and Kilco are working together to make farming in the sea as safe and sustainable as farming on the land.


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