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Review your understanding of aquaculture in this free article aligned to AP standards.

Key points

  • To meet the world’s growing demand for seafood, many fishing operations have turned to aquaculture.
  • Aquaculture is the practice of raising fish, shellfish, and seaweed in controlled aquatic environments. Unlike wild-caught seafood, aquacultured seafood is bred, raised and harvested in enclosed pens and tanks.
  • There are many advantages to aquaculture.
    • Aquaculture can help alleviate pressure on overfished wild populations while still meeting demand for seafood.
    • Aquaculture can be efficient, producing a large amount of food in a small area of water, and requiring a relatively small amount of fuel.
    • Aquaculture may also help lower seafood prices and create job opportunities.
  • If carried out in a way that does not consider environmental impacts, however, aquaculture can also have disadvantages.
    • Wastewater released from aquaculture facilities may contain feces, uneaten food, and antibiotics, which can contaminate the environment.
    • Aquacultured populations are often dense, which means disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites spread easily. These pathogens can then spread to nearby wild populations.
    • Fish that escape from aquaculture facilities may compete or breed with wild fish populations, potentially disrupting the local ecosystem.
Salmon aquaculture. Image credit: Salmon aquaculture in Norway by Brataffe, CC BY-SA 4.0

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