fish farm in China

Modern aquaculture facilities, like this one in China, provide fish for food and other resources.

Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Contemporary Aquaculture

As we've learned, aquaculture has existed for many centuries in various forms. However, the farming of sea life as a major industry is a relatively recent phenomenon. As a result, methods for aquaculture production and the role of the aquaculturist continue to evolve.

Aquaculture is a lot like agriculture. Agriculturists carefully select areas with rich soil and favorable weather conditions for farms. On the same token, aquaculturists find aquatic sites with the right temperature, salinity and fertility where organisms can flourish. This can be a challenge for aquaculturists.

Aquaculture grows as people learn more about the basics of the biology of aquatic species. But the introduction of new organisms to aquaculture is a lengthy process. It takes a decade of research to cultivate an organism properly. Here are the factors aquaculturists weigh when choosing potential new aquatic organisms:

  • reproductive habits
  • requirements of eggs and larvae
  • adaptability to crowded conditions
  • feeding habits of organisms.

The overexploitation of wild fish has recently brought on a surge in the domestication of marine species. The natural supply from the sea just isn't keeping up with demand these days. So, we turn to farming the waters, rather than hunting them, to sustain the production of fish and other aquatic organisms.

On the next page, we'll learn about some of the issues surrounding aquaculture.