Environmental Sustainability in Aquaculture
The incorporation of environmentally sustainable business practices is a priority to most global companies today. These practices encompass business activities and managerial decisions tailored at utilizing natural resources mindfully, emphasizing conservation to ensure the environment continues to sustain human life (Sarkis & Zhu, 744). Thus, environmental sustainability focuses on establishing systems that reduce waste production and energy consumption. The trend of businesses going green is attributable to the adverse effects human economic activities have on the environment and the economic benefits. As people continue to realize the negative impact companies’ actions have on the environment, investors and consumers are increasingly opting to direct their resources towards companies that carry out environmentally sustainable practices. Therefore, to remain competitive in the current business world, companies should measure their success in financial terms and strive towards incorporating sustainability measures.
As a relatively new and growing economy, companies in the aquaculture industry need to innovate eco-friendly practices to remain relevant. In a world with limited access to resources, the aquaculture industry provides an alternative source of the much-needed supply of animal protein. Since the industry is relatively new and provides a substitute for prevalent nutrition sources, there is vast room for improvement due to its increasing demand. For instance, it is projected that aquaculture production will have to double to meet the population’s demand by 2050 (van Dijk et al., 499). This increased production will significantly boost food security and create employment for millions of people. Nonetheless, since aquaculture encompasses the rearing of fish and other aquatic animals, like other animal production industries, the sector utilizes inputs such as land, water feeds, and energy. The limited quantity of these resources thus associates the industry with several environmental impacts. The dependence of the aquaculture industry on these limited resources may substantially restrict the industry’s growth. Similarly, production generally causes pollution, which has a hand in jeopardizing the sector’s sustainability. For this reason, in a bid to grow the industry sustainably, aquaculture companies must strike a balance between increasing productivity and improving environmental performance.
Environmental Issues in Aquaculture.
The aquaculture industry heavily relies on the use of natural resources thus interacts with the environment. All forms of production that depend on natural resources can have adverse effects on the environment (Bonilla et al., 7). This includes the possibility of causing pollution and destroying ecosystems due to production processes that influence the environment and natural habitats. In this regard, the environmental issues surrounding the aquaculture industry appear to be twofold. Foremost, there is a need for increased production of feeds to meet the demands of the growing industry. These aquafeeds are mainly produced from aquatic species, which is detrimental to them due to increased demand for their harvest. Secondly, the rearing of marine animals on land may be harmful to the environment due to the environment’s carrying capacity. These environmental challenges are discussed below.
One of the environmental threats of aquaculture stems from the increasing demand for feeds (Gephart et al., 362). Aquafeeds are majorly produced using marine species. Therefore, the growing demand for feeds leads to increased fishing for the marine life used to produce the feeds. This threatens the existence of marine species due to the increased demand. Similarly, since the aquaculture industry depends on the production of feed depends on the availability of feed, the depletion of marine species used to produce the needed feed may significantly limit the industry’s growth.
Nonetheless, while the dependence on marine species-based meals is mentioned as a general limitation to the aquaculture industry as a whole, it is notable that it is only a serious issue for some forms of aquaculture such as finfish and shrimp rearing. The problem does not affect other species whose feed does not constitute marine inputs. It primarily affects aquatic carnivorous species such as salmon and bass since their feed uses high marine inputs. The producers of these species mat have a problem since they require high quantities of fish meal to sustain them. As the stock of marine life used to produce the feed steadily depletes, the fish feed prices are set to become more volatile, thus compromising the profitability of their industries.
It is notable that aquaculture production has been increasing over the years without any change in the production of fish feed (see fig 1.) Therefore, aquaculture producers have reason to shift to reduce the use of feed produced from marine ingredients due to their inevitable price increase. Nonetheless, the increased prices would only substantially affect the production of species that are highly dependent on marine feed. Most species reared in aquaculture, however, are herbivores; thus, the production of fishmeal should not seriously affect the production of fish.
As alluded to earlier, like any other form of production, aquaculture has the potential to damage the environment since it interacts with it. In this regard, the two most successful aquaculture species, i.e., salmon and shrimp, have the most detrimental effects on the environment (Bridson et al., 13). Salmon farming is notorious for the pollution it causes from the production of organic waste and the interaction of farmed salmon with wild salmon, which causes the transmission of diseases and parasites. The increase of wild salmon epidemics is associated with escaped farm salmon. On the other hand, shrimp farming is known to cause adverse environmental impacts such as depletion of mangrove forests and salination of agricultural lands.
The adverse environmental issues accompanying aquaculture, especially in the mentioned shrimp and salmon farming, is attributable to the introduction of new technology that uses ecological resources. The introduction of these technologies has culminated into an intensive process, leading to increased production in one area, thus a greater potential for environmental damage. It is potent to address these adverse impacts due to their effects on the industry. Foremost, aquaculture highly depends on natural resources. Therefore, the negative environmental impact may reduce the industry’s productivity, thus affecting company profits. Secondly, the increase of awareness of detrimental effects companies have on the environment may force the government to implement regulations that require the industry to address their environmental effects. Similarly, failure to address the issues may affect the industry’s sales since consumers are fast shifting to trends that favor green industries. Lastly, addressing environmental issues will have a positive impact on the company’s image, thus influencing its future access to locations for business expansion.
In light of the increasing need to incorporate green practices to achieve sustainability in today’s business world and the adverse effects the aquaculture industry presents to the environment, it is prudent to implement the following recommendations;
Bonilla, Silvia H., et al. “Industry 4.0 and sustainability implications: A scenario-based analysis of the impacts and challenges.” Sustainability 10.10 (2018): 3740.
Bridson, Peter B., et al. “The aquaculture sustainability continuum–Defining an environmental performance framework.” Environmental and Sustainability Indicators 8 (2020): 100050.
Gephart, Jessica A., et al. “Environmental performance of blue foods.” Nature 597.7876 (2021): 360-365.
Sarkis, Joseph, and Qingyun Zhu. “Environmental sustainability and production: taking the road less travelled.” International Journal of Production Research 56.1-2 (2018): 743-759.
van Dijk, Michiel, et al. “A meta-analysis of projected global food demand and population at risk of hunger for the period 2010–2050.” Nature Food 2.7 (2021): 494-501.
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