ANALYSIS - Aquaculture America 2014 kicked off today in Seattle, USA, with a plenary address from Patrick Sorgeloos, Ghent University, Belgium, on aquaculture as the blue biotechnology of the future, writes Lucy Towers, TheFishSite Editor, live from the show.
Aquaculture can be dived into traditional and industrial aquaculture said Mr Sorgeloos.
Traditional aquaculture accounts for more than 50 per cent of world production and is mainly for local consumption. Often integrated with rice, livestock or other fish, traditional production can be very eco-friendly.
Industrial aquaculture is different in that it is driven by profitability, efficiency and high value products. Comprised of mainly monoculture, more investment is needed to help it be able to move to integrated production.
In order to meet the FAO's prediction that seafood production must double in ten years to meet demand, new approches will be needed, commented Mr Sorgeloos.
Many of the current challenges such as legislation, food safety and lack of communication between the Western World and Asia, are all holding back the expansion of sustainable aquaculture and more effort is needed to address the challenges.
Efficient breeding of fish and seed production is one area where aquaculture finds itself far behind agriculture, said Mr Sorgeloos. Many fish species still cannot be bred in captivity and seed production needs to improve its cost efficiency and survival rates.
Moving to integrated aquaculture is also another area that needs to be addressed. China has very efficient integrated marine aquaculture involving fish, seaweed and molluscs that requires no feed input. The rest of the world needs to work with China to better understand the practice and to develop new technology, said Mr Sorgeloos.
The integration of fish farming with renewable energy sources, such as wind farms, is also important and may help reduce costs whilst making production more sustainable.
In the areas of sea lice and fish meal, many improvements have already been made but there is still more work to be done, said Mr Sorgeloos.
Mr Sorgeloos also noted that Europe needs to make more effort in restocking programmes, as it is crucial for good fisheries management.
Concluding his presentation, Mr Sorgeloos stressed the importance of the need for more dialogue between countries. we have to realise we are all equal and we all have similar issues that need to be solved together, not dictated by certain countries.