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Aquaculture: A Solution to Overfishing?


As the demand for seafood has increased, technology has made it possible to grow food in coastal marine waters and the open ocean. Aquaculture is a method used to produce food and other commercial products, restore habitat and replenish wild stocks, and rebuild populations of threatened and endangered species.  There are two main types of aquaculture—marine and freshwater.  Marine aquaculture produces numerous species including oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, seaweeds, and fish such as salmon, black sea bass, sablefish, yellowtail, and pompano.   But is it safe and can it combat overfishing?

Arguments in favor of aquaculture:

  • Reduces fishing pressure on certain wild stocks
  • Can place more emphasis on protecting coastal waters from pollution, especially
    in the case of mollusk and seaweed culture
  • Creates jobs in coastal communities
  • Reduces seafood trade deficit
  • Helps feed a growing world population
  • Encourages local investment

Arguments against aquaculture:

  • Can put excess pressure on wild stocks that are used to create high protein feed
  • Can amplify and transfer disease and parasites to wild fish populations
  • Can pollute water systems with excess nutrients (fish feed & wastes), chemicals
    and antibiotics
  • Can compromise native gene pools if farmed fish and native species interbreed
  • Can conflict with other users of water bodies such as lobstermen, fishermen or
    migrating fish