COLUMN: Get some aqua-culture

South Africa is home to a wide variety of marine life and has a strong fishing industry.

The decline in fish numbers has led to the need to find an alternative that can help remove the pressure on fish populations.

Many fish populations are dwindling due to overfishing and illegal fishing, which has further resulted in the need for an alternative to sustain the current and future generations.

In the late 19th century South Africa started its first aquaculture farm that focused on farming trout.

However, only in recent decades has South Africa’s aquaculture industry began to boom. This has been as a result of the lack of food availability and due to the ever increasing population size and the coastal development.

Adding value

The abalone industry has grown especially strong in South Africa due to the large demand from Asian markets.

In places such as St Helena Bay along the west coast, several aquaculture farms have been built. These farms have focused on species such as mussels, oysters, and abalone, which all have a relatively high value for the fishing industry.

Aquaculture has its obvious benefits – it creates jobs, provides food security contributes to the income of the country.

Environmentally it relieves the stress on fish and invertebrate populations. It also helps protect the environment and habitat of these creatures by preventing harmful fishing techniques from taking place.

Not all positive

Aquaculture, however, does have negative impacts and consequences that need to be considered.

When feeding these organisms, some of the industries need to acquire food sources from the ocean. For example, in Europe the Atlantic salmon farming industry tends to catch more salmon so that they can feed the salmon that is being farmed.

Furthermore, several land-based aquaculture farms need to pump water from the ocean for the organisms that are being farmed and when they pump the water back into the ocean the water is often nutrient-rich which could result in algal blooms.

When developing the aquaculture both negative and positive consequences need to be considered.

In South Africa, great research is being done in developing ideas and innovative methods to farm organisms without causing drastic impacts to the environment.

V This column was contributed by Michael Hart-Davis, a student of Marine Science. Email him on mhartd@gmail.com.

South Africa is home to a wide variety of marine life and has a strong fishing industry.

The decline in fish numbers has led to the need to find an alternative that can help remove the pressure on fish populations.

Many fish populations are dwindling due to overfishing and illegal fishing, which has further resulted in the need for an alternative to sustain the current and future generations.

In the late 19th century South Africa started its first aquaculture farm that focused on farming trout.

However, only in recent decades has South Africa’s aquaculture industry began to boom. This has been as a result of the lack of food availability and due to the ever increasing population size and the coastal development.

Adding value

The abalone industry has grown especially strong in South Africa due to the large demand from Asian markets.

In places such as St Helena Bay along the west coast, several aquaculture farms have been built. These farms have focused on species such as mussels, oysters, and abalone, which all have a relatively high value for the fishing industry.

Aquaculture has its obvious benefits – it creates jobs, provides food security contributes to the income of the country.

Environmentally it relieves the stress on fish and invertebrate populations. It also helps protect the environment and habitat of these creatures by preventing harmful fishing techniques from taking place.

Not all positive

Aquaculture, however, does have negative impacts and consequences that need to be considered.

When feeding these organisms, some of the industries need to acquire food sources from the ocean. For example, in Europe the Atlantic salmon farming industry tends to catch more salmon so that they can feed the salmon that is being farmed.

Furthermore, several land-based aquaculture farms need to pump water from the ocean for the organisms that are being farmed and when they pump the water back into the ocean the water is often nutrient-rich which could result in algal blooms.

When developing the aquaculture both negative and positive consequences need to be considered.

In South Africa, great research is being done in developing ideas and innovative methods to farm organisms without causing drastic impacts to the environment.

This column was contributed by Michael Hart-Davis, a student of Marine Science. Email him on mhartd@gmail.com.

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