With an increase in the total world population and a growing demand for high-quality proteins and unsatu-rated fat, the expansion of fisheries has experienced an annual growth rate of 2.4% since 1961, compared to the annual population growth of 1.8% (FAO Fisheries Department Statistical Database, 2003). Since the late 1980s, however, population has surpassed the growth in total fish supply, decreasing the supply to a level of 13.1 kg per capita (FAO Fisheries Department Statistical Database, 2003). In 2000, total catches for marine areas were 71.3 million tons and 6.6 million tons from inland waters (both excluding China due to unavailability of reliable statistics). Including catches from China, the estimate of total global catches is 94 million tons, close to the estimated maximum sustainable yield of 100 million tons; several areas have experienced overharvesting and extinction of former productive fish stocks. The increased demand cannot be met by fisheries, and aquaculture has been developed as a means of surpassing this limit.
The organized production of marine products has become an important and still growing contribution to the securing of food for humankind. Aquaculture is not a new idea. It is known to have been practiced for at least 3000 years, offering an important contribution of much-needed proteins in Southeast Asia and other places relying on the regulation of water resources. Moreover, by 2001 the global production of aquaculture products had grown to a level of around 48 million tons per year, China being the main producer with 34 million tons (FAO, 2003). Most of the production in these regions has been based on freshwater species; the development of ocean-based production is a more recent activity.
Two features are important for aquaculture—access to clean temperate water and access to sheltered conditions with either deep water or water with a high flow rate. Fish and crustaceans are poikilothermic animals, with their body temperature close to the temperature of the surrounding water. Because their life functions and growth rate are dependent on the body temperature, the temperature of the water plays a central role in their activity and growth. Fish such as salmon have an optimal growth rate at temperatures around 13—17oC and the growth rate decreases at lower temperatures. For these reasons, those interested in developing fish farming in the North have concentrated on regions where currents from the south bring warm water to nutrient-rich northern seas, and most of the Arctic generally does not provide the conditions needed for commercial aquaculture.
The perfect example of suitable conditions for aquaculture is the North Atlantic Current, which brings water from the Mexican Gulf to the west coast of Norway, creating excellent conditions for fish farming beyond the
Arctic Circle. The expansive coastline with deep fjords and clean water provides the perfect conditions for supporting fish farming. The fjords provide excellent shelter for the cages and nets used in connection with the rearing activity, just as the combination of steady currents and deep fjords provides a continuous flow of oxygen-rich water and the outflow of excess fodder and waste products from the site. Similar conditions exist at the Faroe Islands, and in part around Iceland.
The economic outcome from aquaculture contributes to the economies of the coastal communities, and may help to ensure the existence of many of the settlements in the North. Diseases among young fish kept in cages have been a major problem, but appear to be under control. There are, however, many problems in relation to the environment, which have caused major concern. The use of medicine in preventing diseases leads to outflow of unwanted antibiotics in the environment, just as the intermixture of native and introduced species may affect the continuing existence of local strains of fish. Norway is by far the largest producer of aquaculture products in the Circumpolar North. With a total production of 512,000 tons (FAO Fisheries Department Statistical Database, 2003) in 2001, the major part of the production is fish, with 438,000 tons salmon, 71,000 tons rainbow trout, and 1500 tons cod and other finfish products; crustaceans and mussels are around 3000 tons. The excellent conditions in Norway have been the basis of a boom in aquaculture during the last ten years. In the beginning, it had been seen as a new way of survival for the traditional livelihood of combining small-scale fishing and farming to also include aquaculture, eventually as a community-based activity. But by and large, the activity has developed into a large-scale industry with only a few players in the game.
Faroe Islands, well situated in the North Atlantic Current, have some of the same favorable conditions as Norway, even though the coastal conditions differ slightly. The total production in 2001 was 46,000 tons, with salmon (44,000 tons) and rainbow trout (2000 tons) as the major products.
Favorable conditions exist in Iceland also and there has been a long tradition of experiments with fish farming; yet, the total production in 2001 was only registered as 5000 tons, with salmon (3000 tons), trout (1000 tons), and Arctic char (1000 tons) as the major species.
In Greenland, the only attempt to develop aquaculture so far failed due to economic collapse. An inland-based production facility for Arctic char was established in the late 1980s, but stopped its activities in the beginning of the 1990s due to problems in finding profitable markets for the products. Recent investigations have shown possibilities for profitable production of wolffish in the South Greenland fjords, but so far no attempt has been made to start production.
Production in Finland and Sweden is primarily concentrated in the more southern parts of the countries. The Finnish production of 16,000 tons is partly based on inland production of trout (3000 tons), and the major part of the production is concentrated in the Baltic Sea with a total production of 13,000 tons of rainbow trout. In Sweden, rainbow trout (3000 tons inland, 2000 tons in the Baltic Sea) is the major part of the total of 7000 tons. In addition, there is a small production of blue mussel (2000 tons).
The second largest producer in the Circumpolar North is Canada, with a total production of 152,000 tons in 2001 (FAO, 2003), of which inland freshwater products (trout, rainbow trout, and a few other species) constitute 13,000 tons. The Canadian Atlantic coast— Québec, the Maritimes—includes a total of 64,000 tons, with salmon (37,000 tons) and mussels (21,000 tons) as the major species. And in Pacific Canada, that is, British Columbia, a total of 76,000 tons includes major species such as salmon (53,000 tons), chinook and coho (14,000 tons), and clams and oysters (9000 tons). Due to the moratorium on fisheries of major species such as cod, the aquaculture of Canada represents nearly a quarter of the total value of Canadian fish and seafood production, and in 1999 all aquaculture production in Canada accounted for close to 23% of the dollar value of the country's total harvest of fish and shellfish.
In Alaska, statute 16.40.210 prohibits finfish farming. However, Alaska does allow nonprofit ocean ranching, that is, releasing into public waters young fish that are available for harvest by fishermen upon their return to Alaskan waters as adults. The aquaculture therefore is limited to the production of shellfish and mussels, with a total production of 39,000 tons in 2001, including a total of 35,000 tons of oysters and 3000 tons of shellfish.
The Russian aquaculture production of 90,000 tons in 2001 was mainly due to more southern production of carp (89,000 tons), and only with a total production of less than 1000 tons from sea-based production facilities. In an attempt to establish more profitable production of high-value products, the Kamchatka crab (king crab) was brought from Kamchatka to a test site in the Barents Sea close to Murmansk in the late 1960s. This attempt seems to have succeeded in the sense that a stock of Kamchatka crab has been established, and is slowly expanding to the west, into Norwegian waters where a quota on Kamchatka crab has been established. The total stock is still too small to provide lucrative fisheries with the species, and small-scale fishermen in the region complain about the crab having a major influence on the environment, wiping out most of the species traditionally caught in the region.
The attempts to expand the limits of profitable aquaculture with new species are being constantly researched and focus on Arctic char as well as other northern species such as halibut, wolfish, and mussels. Arctic char has always been an important food source for the Inuit in Canada's north, but is becoming an increasingly popular delicacy all over the world. Its new-found success is partly due to aquaculture. The flesh is not only fine textured, flaky, and moist but is also leaner than its salmon relatives. The fish is well suited to aquaculture because it feeds successfully as low as 0°C and as high as 16°C. Research Stations in Troms0, Norway, Akureyri and Reykjavik in Iceland, and aquaculture companies such as Icy Waters in Canada's Yukon Territory are working to develop new and improved hybrid strains of Arctic char. One successful strain is marketed in North America under the name "Yukon Gold." Now sold in North America, the market for this char is expanding to include Europe and Asia.
The worldwide expansion of aquaculture has led to indirect negative consequences for Northern fisheries-dependent communities. The world market for fish and fish products is very sensitive to the expansion of production in specific market segments, and the expansion in the aquaculture production of salmon during the 1990s has led to a world market price for farmed salmon at a level in 2001 of one-third the price in 1991. Similarly, the expansion of shrimp farming in South East Asia, together with a marked increase in the catches of cold water shrimp, has led to a situation where the average world market price of coldwater shrimp is reduced by 10% per year (in fixed prices).
Rasmus Ole Rasmussen
See also Arctic Char; Fish; Salmon Further Reading
Coull, James R., World Fisheries Resources, New York:
Routledge, 1993 FAO Fisheries Department Statistical Database Website:
http://www.fao.org/fi/statist/FISOFT/FISHPLUS.asp Fisheries Administration in the Field of Aqua Culture and Restocking, TemaNord: Nordic Council of Ministers, 1999, p. 501
Huet, Marcel, Textbook of Fish Culture. Breeding and
Cultivation of Fish, Fishing News Books, 2001 Nordic Strategy for the Environment and Fisheries 1999-2002,
TemaNord: Nordic Council of Ministers, 1999, p. 567 A Review of Research of Market Outlets for Nordic Fishermen, Nordic Council of Ministers, Nord: 2000, p. 524
Was this article helpful?
What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.