And On His Farm He Had Some Fish


Aquaculture facility. Photo: José Aguilar Manjarrez, FAO.

Aquaculture can be traced back to ancient cultures. There are depictions of tilapia being fished out of tanks in Egypt as early as 2500 B.C.E. The earliest known written record of aquaculture techniques is attributed to Fan Li, of China, who in 475 B.C.E. described pond construction and growth characteristics of common carp.

Aquaculture is now the fastest-growing form of food production in the world. Nearly one-third of the seafood consumed in the world is farm raised. Aquaculture has the potential to relieve pressure on dwindling wild seafood populations and create sustainable food supplies. However, fish farms can also have negative impacts on the environment and wild fish populations.

In Part A of this investigation, you will examine U.S. and global aquaculture data from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) database. In Part B, you will examine trends in global aquaculture and learn about various fish farming methods and the environmental impacts associated with each of them. In Part C, you will use ImageJ to analyze satellite images showing how aquaculture drastically changed the coastline of Honduras over a very short period of time.

Aquaculture has economic, social, and environmental benefits. Globally, aquaculture is worth $56 billion, and provides one-third of the fish people consume. Increased numbers of aquaculture facilities has resulted in an increase in job availability in coastal communities. Aquaculture can also help to decrease pressure on wild fisheries. But what kinds of impacts and drawbacks come with these benefits?