9 challenges stumping growth in modern aquaculture

Published on
October 28, 2015

“The aquaculture industry is like an onion,” offered the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Executive Director Wally Stevens to a ballroom full of seafood industry experts attending the 2015 GOAL Conference, held this week in Vancouver, British Columbia.

After accepting the ceremonial talking stick from Chief Maurice Nahanee and the Chinook Song Catchers of the Squamish First Nation, Stevens wasted no time in addressing the challenges currently vexing seafood farmers around the world, utilizing the tear-inducing veggie to better illustrate the bigger industry picture. Aquaculture’s issues, after all, are not isolated from one another, Stevens said – rather, as with an onion, they are layered and intrinsically linked.

This particular onion consists of nine layers, argued Stevens, starting from its core:

•             Disease

•             Feed

•             Environment

•             Social responsibility

•             Marketplace

•             Investment

•             Leadership

•             Consumer awareness

•             Education

The industry at large has met some of these challenge areas more effectively than others. According to Stevens, disease and social responsibility could use the most work – he awarded those areas with “D” letter grades. Particularly when it comes to social obligations, “we have great responsibilities collectively to do a better job in dealing with the men and women who are involved in any aspect of the aquaculture community,” Stevens said.

Categories such as feed, investor support and consumer awareness were deemed middle of the road by Stevens (they were given “C” grades), while the industry has been dealing with environment and market support challenges with satisfactory aplomb (they were awarded B’s).

The improvement of all of these grades depends on the onion’s final layer – education – said Stevens: “The principle solution that will address disease, feed, environment, social responsibility, marketplace, investment, leadership and consumer awareness [challenges] is education.”

“It is education that is the hallmark of civilized society. It is education that will be the hallmark of a sustainable aquaculture industry,” Stevens concluded.  

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