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The environmental impact of aquaculture operations

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  1. Introduction
  2. Environmental detriments considered
  3. Sustainable aquaculture
    1. Aquacultural practices
    2. Form of recycling
  4. Perspective: Aquaculture in China
    1. The result of Porphyra yezoensis aquaculture
    2. The green-tide off the Chinese coast
  5. Conclusions
  6. References

Human cultivation has produced habitats specialized for artificially spawning and nurturing aquatic animals and plants in fresh and marine waters. By assisting to meet the market demand for seafood consumption, aqua cultural operations have yielded clear and significant financial advantages, offering employment opportunities, and, in certain instances, replenishing the depleted natural stock. However, they also present an environmental danger to local bio-diversity, and a significant risk to the health of wild or natural animal species. ?Farming? discourages the continued fishing and exploitation of marine life to the point of diminished or endangered population levels, but it also introduces diseases and mutations into that same population while damaging the natural environment through pollutant runoff. Aquaculture is therefore at once a positive and a negative solution to unmet commercial demand for seafood.

The paper will review recent scientific literature to address the concern with ancillary environmental pollutants resulting from open water and land-based aquacultural efforts (also known as ?fish farming?), and the health threat to natural (wild) marine animal populations from artificially cultivated (farmed) stocks. In examining this topic, it is the intention of this essay to explore the broader issue of human or anthropocene impact on re-shaping the natural environment, and its consequential effect upon bio-diversity and natural ecology. While humans have long inhabited coastal zones and undertaken both land and water cultivation practices, the technological advancement in tools, fishing, and farming practices has caused an anthropocene effect which poses a dramatic effect on the environmental system. As a means of exploring this hypothesis, the essay will consider the emergence of aquacultural cultivation in developing Southeast Asian countries and their subsequent effect on the natural ecology.

[...] In short, the goal of environmental conservation and sustainability when applied to aquacultural cultivation needs to consider that ponds are trying to replicate the natural environment in producing fish and crustacean crops, and the maintenance of that ecological system is the best chance for the continued success of their production and the minimal impact of biological contamination Perspective: Aquaculture in China Prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China experienced a remarkable green-tide covering six-hundred square kilometers off the coast of Qingdao: the host site for the sailing regatta [Liu et al., 2009]. [...]


[...] While aquaculture does provide an economic alternative to reliance on natural populations of wildlife for human consumption, it is not a sufficient replacement for the effective and responsible management of the oceans and their inhabitants. The fact that humans have become reliant upon artificially domesticated and bred populations of aquatic life is itself testimony to the worrisome state of ocean species population, and ought to be a cause for global concern on the future of marine ecology and sustainability. If appropriate measures are not undertaken to safeguard and encourage the growth and re-building of natural habitats and species, it is unlikely that any degree of sophistication in artificially grown, fed, and chemically enhanced seafood will prove adequate to compensate for the loss of marine plants and animals. [...]


[...] As such, effluent discharge from aquaculture ponds and coastal net-pens presents a clear and significant ecological danger to the natural environment; and the contamination of waterways from fish proteins and oils, not to mention chemical additives, is a considerable threat to sustaining natural bio-diversity. Furthermore, the establishment of coastal net-pens and pond aquaculture ?impact wild stocks through interbreeding with escaped animals, ultimately leading to reduced fitness? in the indigenous species [Tal et al., 2009]. The interaction between healthy wild populations and their farmed cousins is an important consideration in the environmental sustainability of aquacultural development, as the latter are likely to introduce foreign diseases and parasites into the natural environment and the native fishery stock. [...]

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