Like it or not, we are all in this together. That phrase is more appropriate than ever in the global aquaculture sector. Each day we are reminded that our world is increasingly interconnected. A recent example involves Asian strains of Aeromonas currently causing serious losses for U.S. catfish producers. As shown repeatedly in this issue, aquaculture practices in one region can result in innovations… or problems… in many other places.
Although aquaculture involves many seemingly unrelated industries, species, countries and production methods, as the old saying goes “one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel.” Public perception of the aquaculture industry must be addressed as a whole and on a species by species basis, as pointed out by our tilapia columnist Mike Picchietti. In this day and age of 24 hour news cycles and on-line social media, any bit of “information” regarding our industry or the products we produce – no matter how slanted – can become conventional wisdom in the course of a few weeks.
And just as tilapia has expanded and become a recognizable commodity in many parts of the world where it was virtually unknown just 20 years ago, marine species will become increasingly important – and not just along the coasts. A perfect example is the yellowtail, which seems to be emerging as an adaptable fish with markets throughout the world. One day in the future when consumers see farmed yellowtail in the marketplace or on a restaurant menu, their perceptions of aquaculture in general will have significant influence over their purchasing decisions.
Another factor that will eventually impact all of aquaculture involves climate change. Some will be winners, and many will be losers. Although this is not an immediate problem for most segments of the industry, policy makers and commercial interests should take note of future opportunities and threats. In the meantime, managing an aquaculture business requires sound information on a day to day basis – and the historical framework for technology transfer of such information in U.S. aquaculture is reviewed with interesting insight by our shellfish columnist Dr. Michael Rice.
We are also doing our part to transfer some important management recommendations, as you will notice in our regular columns. Our columnists never cease to impress me with the valuable insights they share here. And, with one final thought regarding that philosophy “we are all in this together,” the Fishmonger poses some interesting questions for our industry as a whole as we relate to wild fisheries.
As always, thanks for sharing these pages with us. Let us know if you have suggestions – we always welcome your input.