The New Blue Revolution
A recent Food and Agriculture Organization report questioned whether global aquaculture production would grow fast enough to satisfy projected seafood demand while ensuring environmental and social responsibility and consumer protection. Fortunately there are organizations in place to ensure the industry accomplishes both.
The so-called Blue Revolution is waning, the report said. Global aquaculture production tallied an average annual growth rate of 7.1 percent from 1995 to 2005, compared to 11.8 percent from 1985 to 1995.
But according to a report published in the January 2009 issue of the journal BioScience, aquaculture will likely remain the world’s fastest growing food production segment through 2025.
The report’s author, University of Michigan natural resources professor James Diana, said burgeoning demand for seafood in industrialized countries and developing countries’ economic dependence on seafood production and exportation — seafood generates more income for developing countries worldwide than meat, coffee, tea, bananas and rice combined — will continue to fuel aquaculture’s growth.
Diana added that aquaculture, when responsibly practiced, is no more damaging to biodiversity than other food production segments, and aquaculture’s harmful effects are diminishing as management techniques improve.
Still, to meet projected seafood demand due simply to population growth, aquaculture will need to produce an additional 28.8 million metric tons annually by 2030, or 80.5 million metric tons overall, to maintain global seafood consumption at current levels, according to the FAO.
Initiatives such as the World Wildlife Fund’s Aquaculture Dialogues and the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices, though still in their infancy, are proof positive that the aquaculture industry is trying to grow fish in a responsible and sustainable manner. Whether aquaculture production can expand fast enough satisfy the world’s insatiable appetite for seafood in 2030 remains to be seen.