Aquaculture is the cultivation and production of aquatic animals and plants for consumption. Acting as agriculture’s futuristic cousin, aquaculture is extremely valuable for maintaining and servicing an ever-growing demand for seafood around the world.
If you purchase or consume shrimp regularly, you’re likely already familiar with aquaculture (or at least its products). Over 90 percent of all shrimp consumed in the United States is farm-raised, which is to say, not caught in the wild, and it’s a trend that will only continue to rise.
Shrimp, one of the world’s most popular aquaculture products in terms of production and exports, is already ahead of the trend. But aquaculture will likely soon be the driving production force behind most – if not all – seafood products.
Due to rampant overfishing, some estimates indicate that our oceans and inland waters could be dry of most fish by the year 2050 if wild fish stocks are not more closely managed. Demand for seafood, however, is trending up, even as supply in the ocean is threatened.
The answer, according to environmentalists, scientists, nutritionists and more, is aquaculture. Carefully cultivated farming operations around the world will play an increasingly crucial part in keeping accessible seafood on our plates for decades to come.
Ensuring an accessible supply of healthy and safe seafood, however, doesn’t lie just in rampant aquaculture production, but sustainable aquaculture production. Currently, shrimp production in some corners of the world creates environmental waste runoff and relies on mangrove destruction and costly feeding practices. Food safety, animal welfare, traceability, and the use of antibiotics or GMOs are all valid concern often raised when discussing the rise of aquaculture.
In Ecuador, all shrimp producers are governed by a national governing body as well as global partnerships to ensure compliance to sustainability throughout all stops on the supply chain. Next time you purchase shrimp, make sure you do so with sustainability in mind.