ANALYSIS - The Elsevier organised conference, 'Aquaculture 2013: To the Next 40 Years of Sustainable Global Aquaculture', opened its doors yesterday in Gran Canaria, Spain. The first presentation of the day looked at the most important role of aquaculture; its contribution to a sustainable food future, writes Lucy Towers, TheFishSite Editor, live from the show.
It has been well documented that our survival now relies on turning to the waters for food production, said Sadasivam Kaushik, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), France, during his presentation.
Aquaculture production over the last 40 years has been increasing. In 1970 there was around 1.4 x106 tonnes of finfish produced, this figure rose to 39.17 x106 tonnes in 2010. It is also expected to overtake beef, pork and poultry production by 2050.
Looking towards 2050, Mr Kaushik stated that the world's population is expected to reach around 9.1 billion, meaning that net feed production must therefore increase by 70 per cent. In order to meet this demand, aquaculture will need to supply an extra 80 million tonnes.
In order to produce this 80 million tonnes, there will need to be an additional 2-3 million tonnes of feed produced each year.
Aquaculture therefore faces the challenge that it must meet these growing demands whilst ensuring that its growth is sustainable, increasing the efficiency of feed, land, water and energy use.
In terms of decreasing the amount of wild fish used in farmed fish feed, there has been much progress made in recent years. The success can be seen in many commercial feeds which now contain less fish meal and fish oil.
Ensuring the nutritional value of farmed fish as food for man also continues to be researched. However there is still room for improvement in reducing contaminants and phosphorus retention levels.
A sustainable future for aquaculture must also focus on economic issues for farmers, such as unfair competition, the abundance of eco-labels and the need for more value addition along the full chain, said Mr Kaushik.
There must also be a bigger focus on science, innovation and technologies, and further improvements need to be made in the environmental and performance aspects of fish production.
To conclude, Mr Kaushik stated that coordinated efforts on improving the efficiency of resource utilisation and the innovative use of existing but under-utilised, or novel, biological resources, will make aquaculture sustainable.