Aquaculture in the 21st Century: Opportunities for the Emerging Professional
John R. MacMillan and Eric A. MacMillan
You have heard the rumors—fish farming (i.e., aquaculture) is bad for the environment and causes ecological devastation. In some cases, this may be true, but in most cases aquaculture is a form of agriculture that can help feed an ever increasing world population, alleviate malnutrition, improve prospects for wild fish stock sustainability, enhance recreational fisheries, provide sustainable supplies of ornamental species, and have limited negative environmental impacts. Commercial aquaculture can also be profitable, which is essential if commercial fish farming itself is to be viable. Aquaculture is a significant part of the world economy and is here to stay.
We believe aquaculturists (public and commercial) and fishery professionals have much in common and share the same vision, that is, ensuring sustainable fisheries and a healthy aquatic environment. However, past poor aquaculture practices in some parts of the world have led to misperceptions about the current and prospective sustainability of aquaculture. While many of these past practices have now been replaced with more responsible and informed environmentally friendly practices, the negative perceptions persist. In this chapter, we will briefly identify some of the key environmental sustainability challenges confronting aquaculture, why environmentally sustainable aquaculture is likely to be more profitable than alternative forms of aquacu lture, how aquaculture can be part of sustainable fisheries management, and how the emerging fishery professional might consider focusing their career on one of the many scientific, policy, or regulatory facets of aquaculture. We believe emerging fishery professionals can help improve the prospects for aquaculture’s long-term environmental sustainability and, in so doing, help feed the world.