AQUACULTURE ISSUE:
Management
Sustainable Aquaculture Policies are Critical for This Growing Industry
Aerial view of mangroves, rivers and shrimp pools (Photo © Tim Laman/National Geographic Stock)

Given the rapid growth of aquaculture, careful oversight is urgent. Every country has a complex mix of farms, feeds and systems that will require innovative solutions by management agencies, lawmakers and farm managers.

Decrease Dependence on Wild Fish and Fishmeal

Certifications should encourage farming that doesn't require significant amounts of fishmeal or fish oil as feed. As part of this effort, agencies should encourage farming non-carnivorous species, as well as the development of alternative feeds.

Reduce Pollution

Pollution can be reduced with improved monitoring and treatment of wastewater from fish farms. In addition, regulations can improve transparency by requiring fish farmers to report quantities of chemicals and drugs used.

Protect Habitat

Legislation needs to be created to protect habitat, since aquaculture operations often occur near sensitive environments. Such regulations should also restrict the introduction of non-native species that impact natural ecosystems when they escape, and ensure that the fishing industry chooses the optimum sites for its operations.

Data Quality and Availability

The availability of reliable information on aquaculture operations — such as feed and chemical use; escapes; disease; and habitat and effluent management — is essential to assess farming's environmental impact and sustainability. Responsible producers and governments need to collect, analyze and share this data.

Third-party Certification

Governments can't do it alone. Credible third-party certification is needed to assess each producer. In the same way that the Marine Stewardship Council has set the standard for sustainable wild fisheries, aquaculture operations need a gold standard that includes a simple label that consumers and buyers can identify.
What You Can Do

Smart Seafood Choices
Use our pocket guides
Seafood Watch pocket guides help you select seafood that is caught or farmed in ways that help promote healthy oceans. Choose from the green, "Best Choice" column. Otherwise, try a yellow "Good Alternative."
Download or print a pocket guide

Learn more about Aquaculture Issues:
WILD FISH       POLLUTION & DISEASE       ESCAPES       HABITAT DAMAGE       MANAGEMENT