In these days, when the current situation faced worldwide in terms of food consumption and its future, are frequently questioned, particularly the issues related to the consumption of sea products and the production of aquaculture are constantly being discussed on the top of the agenda. As the world’s population increases and continues to increase, it is expected reach 9 billion people in 2050. Feeding this population with a healthy diet constitutes one of the essential concerns, while in those developed countries where the population does not increase at the same rate with the rest of the world, concerns related to bringing up healthy generations and healthy nutrition are increasingly becoming more valid. As this is the case, the total consumption rates for red meat as well as the total poultry consumption rates are highly discussed, while in many ways aquaculture production stands out among these numbers and rates.
Sea products have been predominantly acquired through fishing throughout the history worldwide. Today still, fishing continues to prevail as the method for acquiring sea products. However, after the 1950s even though the technology related to fishing and fishing boats have advanced significantly, more fishing cannot be carried out from the oceans and seas. Again, together with this transformation the developments witnessed in aquaculture have rapidly increased the production rates as well. Therefore, the sea products that are required globally could be offered to the consumers in sufficient amounts and with affordable prices. In the coming years, it is obvious that even more sea products will be needed to feed the increasing global population and these numbers will not be fulfilled with fishing only. At the latest by 2030, the amount of sea products acquired through aquaculture is expected to exceed the amounts obtained through fishing.
Secondly, the recession experienced in red meat production has also increased the significance of sea products. As it might be seen in the following table, the production of sea products has exceeded red meat production back in 2010. Considering the infinite opportunities provided by the oceans and the seas, this growing trend in aquaculture is anticipated to continue. Many international articles and reports published with respect to this issue indicate that after the year 2030, aquaculture will acquire an even more critical role in comparison to today for feeding humanity.
The term SUSTAINABILITY, which is extremely important for aquaculture, which is such an important industry that is also open to development and for aquaculture to continue this development trend without slowing down, gains even more significance with each passing day. As aquaculture is a very young industry and could only make a breakthrough after the 1990s, in order for aquaculture industry to continue its growth and to reach the 2050 objectives, the concept of sustainability has to be internalized and for this certain steps have to be taken.
The discussions related to the environmental impacts and the sustainability of aquaculture have been accelerated after the Mangrove forests were cut down to establish shrimp farms in Asian countries, in the 1990s. Today, when the concept sustainability is mentioned, immediately the term entails issues such as the preservation of wild life areas, the utilization of the products obtained from the seas through fishing as fish meal and fish oil, water pollution and various diseases. During the last twenty years, as the aquaculture industry has made significant progress in terms of production rates, during this process the same progress could not be attained with respect to the issue of sustainability. For example, the catfish production in Vietnam was 50.000 tons in 2000, while in2010 these production rates had reached 1 million tons. Several examples such as this one and many more have created a significant pressure on the environment during the last ten years.
For this reason, in order the development and the sustainability of the aquaculture industry to continue, more sensitive production and baiting technologies have to be developed especially with respect to the fishmeal that is used in bait formulations first and foremost. The developments in relation to environment and baiting technologies are extremely limited when compared to the increase in the production levels during witnessed the past twenty years.
Moreover, the sustainability policies followed by the fish farms on an individual capacity are not sufficient most of the time. Along with these individual efforts, collective studies have to be added because many fish farms that share the same environment are also affected from the activities of the neighboring farms. For this reason, the producers located in certain regions should come together and they should coordinate to carry out the activities and take the precautions that would protect the ecosystem that they are currently living in, in a collective manner.
Today, the majority of aquaculture activities are carried out in developing countries and therefore these concepts are mostly brought to the agenda by the developed countries, as they are the clients of the products that are being produced.Particularly through certain criterias well as the documents adopted by Europe, the producer companies are trying to be developed with respect to sustainability. We have also observed at the Seafood Expo Global fair that was organized in Brussels this year that all of companies are conducting studies on sustainability and they have placed this issue at the center of their stand designs. It is such that even the European Union Commission has touched upon the issue of sustainability with the visual materials that was used during the entire fair and with the special stand that was opened during the fair.
Some of the posters designed by the firms with the theme of sustainability and one of the posters designed by the European Union that was shaped as half human half fish.
Finally, among the developed countries, if we look at Norway, which places the most emphasis on aquaculture production and has become the leading country of this industry, we can see how they tackle the issue of sustainability. When we enter the website www.fisheries.no that was prepared with the support of Norway’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries and is considered as Norway’s official sea product website, and when we examine how the issue of sustainability is displayed on this website, we can see a document entitled “Environmentally Sustainable Aquaculture Industry Strategies”, which contains a number of headings such as environment, gene pool, pollution, diseases, fish health, fish welfare and bait resources. Even this document tells us why Norway is the leading player on a number of issues within the aquaculture industry.
I hope that in the coming years, our country may also stop adapting many of the concepts including sustainability pertaining to aquaculture with external pressure and instead our companies may lead the global platforms as pioneers and exhibit a proactive stand.