is really going on out there in the world of aquaculture? In spite of declines
and setbacks, there is still a lot going on right here in the USA. Even a few
success stories! And, if we are willing to take the time to see what’s going on
elsewhere, say in Asia, Europe or Latin America, we may be able to glean some
valuable lessons and ideas. From Australia to Mexico to Virginia, USA, there
are stories that provide inspiration, and others that serve as warnings in
terms of unexpected catastrophes.
A more fundamental question might be: what IS “aquaculture?” If you are like me, I’m sure you get that question from time to time. And, of course, there is no simple answer. In this issue we try to address everything from crab culture in open ponds (some of them get their very own personal condominiums) to intensive indoor recirculating production. It’s sometimes difficult to explain what “aquaculture” is without oversimplifying, because we work in a very diverse realm in terms of species, production systems, and markets.
However one chooses to explain it, we are told repeatedly that aquaculture production must double to help meet the world’s requirements for protein… but how can that happen? Will policy makers eventually begin to realize that many forms of aquaculture provide the most sustainable pathways in terms of feed conversion, or water and soil conservation, or protection of wild fisheries and endangered species? How will they even get that kind of information, especially when advocacy groups have tagged “aquaculture” (whatever that is…) as an easy target when their fund-raising campaigns need an industry to play the role of the villain?
Aquaculture really IS a promising way to meet demands for environmentally friendly food production, and those demands will only become more urgent in the coming decades. Perhaps the advantages will eventually become obvious to policy makers and the public, or will come to the forefront simply through economic pressures as the costs of feed components increase. Sources of capital are once again looking at “aquaculture” as a potentially profitable investment. Many observers feel aquaculture will have a bright future, in the course of our lifetimes.
Aquaculture represents many things, even among those of us who practice it. But there are some constants as well. Most of our industries face the same struggles. Diseases can appear out of nowhere and decimate farms or large segments of entire industries. Be they simple or complex, production systems rely on controlling the same natural cycling of nutrients to convert inputs into marketable products. While making a profit, by the way. Basic concepts like dealing with Nitrogen, or the fundamentals of nutritional requirements, are important for all producers to become familiar with.
As always, we try to present a mix of interesting topics you might not have been aware of, along with the basic principles that all of us need to learn, and re-learn, from time to time. Write to us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. C. Greg Lutz has a B.A. in Biology and Spanish by the Earlham College at Richmond, Indiana, a M.S. in Fisheries and a Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science by the Louisiana State University. His interests include recirculating system technology and population dynamics, quantitative genetics and multivariate analyses and the use of web based technology for result-demonstration methods.