Posted by Jacobo Minutti | 19/05/2020
Fish has been an essential part of our diet for millennia, and aquaculture is now vital to our future, writes writes Jacobo Minutti, Global Director of Aqua.
Available land is shrinking, but food demand is rising, and so we must find alternative protein sources. However, there are simply not enough fish in the sea to feed our growing population. And so the rapidly advancing science of aquaculture – carried out sustainably – holds great promise in delivering this rich source of protein.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), aquaculture is the fastest growing food-producing sector. Figures show that in the 1980s around only nine per cent of the fish consumed came from aquaculture, but it now accounts for half of the world's fish consumption.
Why? Because fish production is one of the most resource-efficient ways to produce protein and it has a low environmental impact. One way to measure this is through the ‘feed-conversion ratio’. Fish, like salmon, convert more of the food they eat into body mass than land animals because they do not use energy for body heat – instead it’s used to fuel their growth more efficiently.
For many people in many parts of the world, fish forms a central part of their diet. And, it is an excellent nutritional source too. Salmon, for example, is a high quality easily digestible protein, which has high omega 3 content and is rich in vitamins A, D and B12.
Salmon is an amazing species, but farming it requires a complex production cycle and passionate people. The production process can take up to 18 months and it has two different stages – fresh water and seawater – which add to its complexity. But hard-working farmers are making huge progress and it’s possible for a young salmon that weighs around 100 grams to reach 5-6kg as an adult!
From an animal health perspective, our purpose is to ensure that every fish, wherever it’s raised, faces fewer barriers to healthy growth. Now, as the aquaculture sector tries to adapt to current market changes due to Covid-19, farmers are working even harder to ensure supply continues to meet demand.
When we put such a nutrient rich food on our plates, it is important to recognise that it is the result of fish farmers, academic institutions and other industry partners, working together to advance aquaculture every day.