Guyana is well-known for its agricultural industry, particularly when it comes to the production of rice and sugarcane. In fact, the country has been known by the nickname “the breadbasket of the Caribbean” since the late 1950s. However, rice and sugarcane are not the only factors that contribute to Guyana’s agricultural industry. The country also has a growing aquaculture sector, which is just beginning to make its mark in the country. The aquaculture industry offers significant potential to aid the fight against food scarcity and to improve the population of various types of marine life at the same time. Read on to learn how aquaculture could be used as a tool to help improve sustainability, particularly in the areas of fish and marine life within the global food market.
What Is Aquaculture?
Aquaculture, which is more commonly known as fish farming, involves the organized cultivation of various types of marine life, ranging from fish to shrimp and other animals. Aquaculture is a versatile industry, as animals can be raised in pens within the ocean, as well as in large tanks on land, which makes it relatively easy to do in a variety of areas. Commonly farmed marine animals include tilapia, salmon, and shrimp, and there is great potential to expand this into other types of aquatic animals, including those that have been subject to over-fishing practices and habitat destruction in the wild. The global consumption of seafood remains high, and traditional fishing methods are no longer able to source enough. Fish farming is a potential solution for combatting global food problems created by a continuously growing population combined with a steady decrease in available land to raise traditional crops and livestock. Since fish and other marine life can be raised in tanks, as well as in pens in the ocean, the potential is strong for these animals to be raised in places where cultivating other livestock and crops would not be possible.Already, aquaculture provides nearly 50% of the world’s seafood. As long as aquaculture is practiced responsibly, it will be able to provide sustainable seafood that will ultimately benefit everyone.
Aquaculture also provides a number of opportunities, both in terms of sustainability and as a source of food. As the global population continues to increase each year, producing enough food to feed people around the world is a continuing problem. With half of the world’s seafood already coming from aquaculture, it could potentially serve as an excellent source of food and help to reduce food scarcity around the world. Aquaculture may also present an opportunity to increase the population of certain wild species that are becoming more scarce due to overfishing and habitat destruction. These species could conceivably be raised in captivity and eventually released back into the ocean.
There are several ways that aquaculture can be made more sustainable as it continues to grow and become more common. One of the best ways to reduce the environmental impact of aquaculture and to improve its sustainability is to move to more recirculating, exclusively land-based systems. These provide an opportunity to achieve nearly 100% water recycling within the system, reducing waste and allowing aquaculture to be practiced anywhere. Land-based systems could offer exciting opportunities for desert or urban-based communities to produce fish and other marine life close to home. As the distance between production and consumption is reduced, the environmental impact of food transportation is decreased, as well, making production more sustainable.
The offshore production of fish is also an option. Most aquaculture currently occurs in tanks on land or in nets placed directly offshore. But with so much more open ocean to use, why not move some aquaculture operations offshore? These areas have fewer nutrients and less biodiversity than coastal areas, making it easier to disperse any waste produced and lessen the impact that it would otherwise have on the overall environment. Additionally, there is more open ocean in the world than we would likely ever be able to use, which is beneficial, as the amount of available land to use tanks becomes scarce.
Aquaculture has great potential to become more sustainable, and if it does, it could become a major source of food for the global community. As new and emerging aquaculture markets get started, like those in Guyana, farmers would do well to explore sustainable farming methods as the industry grows.