Managing biodiversity in aquaculture
Aquaculture is the farming of fish and other aquatic organisms for food and other purposes. While only about 13% of the world's fish and other aquatic products come from aquaculture, it is growing rapidly (at 6-7% annually) and it is currently the fastest growing food production sector in the world. Aquaculture productivity depends on a wide diversity of other aquatic or-ganisms for food and for maintenance of water quality. In turn, it can have adverse impacts on the diversity of natural populations of aquatic organisms and the structure of ecosystems through the release of farmed organisms or conversion of one habitat to something else.
Most aquaculture produce comes from about 200 species. Aquatic biodiversity is being lost at alarming rates in natural systems, especially inland waters. The vast majority of this decline has been caused by pollution, human-induced structural changes in aquatic habitats, and the release of introduced species. These losses will constrain efforts to evaluate the aquaculture potential of aquatic organisms. It is already becoming difficult for fish breeders to locate and collect genetic materials from healthy or relatively undisturbed wild populations.
Documentation of wild genetic resources and threats to their survival is the first step toward implementing specific measures to protect the wild population sand their environments. The International Centre for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM) and FAO have developed a database (FishBase) that now includes nearly half the world's finfish, including nearly all of those that are directly useful to humans.
UNEP recommendations to minimise the adverse impacts of aquaculture on wild stocks: