Aquaculture is the breeding, raring and harvesting of aquatic animals in all type of aquatic environments including ponds, lakes and oceans. The reported output from global aquaculture in 2014 supplied over half of the total quantity of fish and shellfish consumed by humans.
Currently, the world faces major challenges in aquaculture that need to be tackled head-on; not only because they’re harming our water bodies but also because they’re, indirectly, affecting the health of human beings as well. Let’s explore the challenges of aquaculture in detail.
1. Water pollution and Aquaculture: Crowded fish pens means concentrated fish; and concentrated fish means concentrated fish waste. Combined with uneaten food pellets and other toxic waste like agricultural run-offs, gases like ammonia, and industrial effluents lead to pollution of the water body. Diseases and parasites are also common in such circumstances.
On top of that, they use chemicals like algaecides to clean the ponds or lakes, and increase output. But these chemicals are not eco-friendly, and consumption of fish that live in ponds with excessive chemical application is not really healthy for humans. Plus, these chemicals also harm the environment in general.
2. Antibiotic resistance and Aquaculture: Antibiotics are an important and convenient way to tackle diseases in aquatic cultures- diseases often resulting from overcrowding of dens. However, excessive, injudicious and indiscriminate use of antibiotics has led to the risk of the pathogenic microbes becoming resistant to these antibiotics.
Antibiotic resistance is a phenomenon where pathogenic microbes become immune to antibiotics, and multiply in their presence because antibiotics have lost their efficiency. Instead of being killed or attenuated, these bacteria become ‘superbugs’- antibiotic resistant bacteria that can continue to affect host organism and proliferate; leading to amelioration of disease state becoming almost impossible.
This would have an adverse effect on fighting infectious diseases in aquatic fauna. Add to that the risk of these resistant organisms becoming enriched and leading to antibiotic resistance in humans and other land based animals. Plus, we currently lack a way to properly employ formal risk analysis methods to the diversity of aquatic life, and validated methods to collect the data resulting from such methods.
In the absence of risk analysis methods, our need to find an alternative to antibiotics, and presence of toxic organic waste that is polluting the environment, we need a solution which is efficient, cost-effective and eco-friendly.