Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, shellfish and even plants. The term aquaculture refers to the cultivation of both marine and fresh water species and can range from land-based to open-ocean production. Mariculture is another term used for the farming of marine organisms in their natural habitats.
 Why should I be aware of this?
- One of the fastest growing food production systems in the world, the bulk of aquaculture’s output is currently being produced within developing countries. This sector continues to be a major contributor to food security and poverty alleviation.
- The vast majority of aquaculture practices around the world have been pursued with significant nutritional and social benefits, and generally with little or no environmental costs.
 All about aquaculture
Fishing has, since ancient times, been a major source of food for humanity and a provider of employment and economic benefits to those engaged in this activity.
However, it has later been realized that fish resources, although renewable, are not infinite. Therefore they needed to be properly managed in order to sustain their contribution to the nutritional, economic and social well-being of the growing world's population.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, adoption in 1982, provided a new framework for the better management of marine resources by giving coastal States rights and responsibilities for the management and use of fishery resources within their EEZs (Exclusive Economic Zones), which embrace some 90 percent of the world's marine fisheries.
 Increase in investment
Fisheries around the world have become a dynamically developing sector of the food industry. In response to the growing international demand, many states have increased investment in modern fishing fleets and processing factories. As a result of this unprecedented growth, many fisheries resources could not sustain an often uncontrolled increase of exploitation.
 Measures to increase efficiency
However, the industry is plagued by issues such as shortage of freshwater and land for aquaculture. In developing countries lack of sufficient capital investment is also a hindrance for producers. Environmental concerns, challenges in product safety and quality and rising energy costs are other critical areas which need special attention.
Culture fisheries have gained increasing importance owing to the exponential rate at which the world population is expanding. It is feared that at this rate the natural fish population in the ocean will be unable to provide the world with sustainable food beyond 2050. The aquaculture industry across the globe, therefore, is seeking measures for enhancing its efficiency to meet the increasing demand for seafood that the wild stocks are incapable of meeting by themselves.
 Fish farming
Though fish farming could be the apt solution for meeting the global food demand, critics argue that cultured fish are responsible for polluting the environment, destroying aquatic habitats, and eventually, damaging the ecosystem. Moreover, the rearing of carnivorous fish such as salmon creates an increased demand for smaller herbivorous fish as feed, thereby alleviating the existing pressure on marine species.
This calls for a greater focus on research and development in this domain. The industry is now witnessing developments in fields such as vaccine development, high protein aqua feeds, shape-changing sea cage designs, autonomous fish farms, and life saving fishing gear among others. Current aquaculture trends such as farming new species and developing advanced and efficient technologies for ascertaining better yield and quality of the produce, offer great prospects for the future.
 Organic aquaculture
Currently, no aquaculture-specific organic standards for organic aquaculture exist in the U.S. and the term “organic” has many different definitions throughout other parts of the world. In spite of going through a rigorous process there still exists much confusion about the current state of organic aquaculture.
- Aquaculture was first practiced in China more than 3,000 years ago. Aquaculture is a relative newcomer to the U.S., which began here during the late 19th century and first reached commercial success many decades later in the 1960's and 1970's. 
- Aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. and global agricultural economies. 
- Cattle require 8-10 pounds (3.6-4.5 kg) of feed per pound of live weight. Poultry require 3 pounds (1.4 kg) of feed per pound of live weight. Fish, because they are poikilothermic ("cold-blooded"), only require 2 pounds (0.9 kg) or less of feed per pound of live weight. No energy is required to maintain body temperature. 
- China is the world's largest aquaculture producer, accounting for 61% of all aquacultured products. Japan is a distant second and India is third. 
- Asian carps (e.g., silver carp, grass carp, etc.), common carp, and tilapia represent, by weight, the most widely produced finfish species in the world.
- Aquaculture accounts for more than 25% of all aquatic foods (more than 30% of foodfish) consumed in the world. Aquaculture will provide more than 50% by 2025. 
- The number of species under aquaculture production in the world grows larger every year, with the majority of growth in numbers provided by saltwater species.
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