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Greg Worden

Entrepreneur and Adjunct Professor of Sustainable Business, Worden Associates

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Is aquaculture the way of the future or unsustainable?

There is currently a very quiet battle occurring between those who propose that aquaculture is the future and those that believe it ruins the future.

Those that believe aquaculture is the future will say that we must move from an extractive practice to a renewable production. This was true in our move from hunter gatherers to farmers and domesticators of animals. It may also be true of our move from fossil fuels to renewable energies.

Those who argue against this will say current aquaculture practices destroy natural fisheries and are therefore unsustainable due to the potential of diseases or escapes of genetically modified fish.

What do you think? Is aquaculture the way of the future or in the way of a sustainable wild-caught future?

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  • Mar 4 2011: Aquaculture is the present and the future whether or not one supports it. In the US, our society has been generally unaware of the development and advancement of aquaculture throughout the rest of the world. We import tremendous amounts of farmed seafood (it is one of our top trade deficits behind oil) and the quantity and proportion of farmed seafood will only continue to increase while wild fisheries contribution to food supplies will remain stagnant and proportionally its role will diminish. This is not simply what we see occurring around us but what the respected authorities on these matters such as FAO and NOAA report and forecast for the foreseeable future.

    The tremendous growth of aquaculture's contribution to our global food supply has essentially been the result of this industry's development in foreign countries. I write this from Africa where I am on business as a representative of a US company and am visiting emerging aquaculture operations and supporting their development. Africa and the rest of the world is embracing aquaculture and we are all working to make it more sustainable every single day. We must continue to improve industry practices if we expect it play the role in food production that is required of it in the future and significant strides have been made that are far too often overlooked by critics. Aquaculture can and is very often practiced responsibly. Yet in the US we continue to debate and delay its potential. As a result we suffer from paralysis by analysis, especially in regards to development of marine aquaculture in our EEZ.

    Until we can come to grips with the fact that aquaculture is not stopping whether we like it or not and begin to encourage it like the rest of the world has, our ability to reduce our seafood deficit, create jobs and produce our own seafood under our own strict standards, we will continue to sit idle, importing more and more seafood as the rest of the world passes us by.