Rapid growth of the aquaculture sector has brought the spotlight on its environmental impacts as well. From farmed species of fish displacing indigenous ones to tonnes of aquaculture sludge blanketing and degrading coral reefs, traditional aquaculture as we know it, has become a boom-and-bust venture.
Most aquaculture operations in India often uses small ponds or cage systems built and handled by smallholder families or local companies. Fortunately, many of them are willing to embrace technology and explore the knowledge about how they can optimize their production while reducing the environmental impacts of their businesses.
Here, we offer four tips which have not only helped to improve the environmental sustainability of a few aquaculture operations, but have also improved their financial performance, creating a win-win situation for both people and nature.
1. Choice of Species
What you choose to grow is important. It has to bring you monetary benefit while ensuring it doesn’t do harm to the existing ecosystem. Introducing fish which do not naturally occur in your location can spread quickly enough to rob native species of resources. On the other hand, native species do better as they are likely to have developed characteristics and habits ideal to local function. The demand for local species is often higher as people from a specific region prefer traditionally consumed species. This gives farmers the opportunity to quote higher prices and a very real incentive to choose native species.
2. Location of Farm Site
3. Design and Layout
In our experience, traditional fish farms directly release their untreated wastewater into the environment surrounding their farms. This is a serious concern for the natural environment, as well as surrounding communities. It is therefore advantageous to design ponds such that they treat and reuse this water. One can also use a biofloc system where waste materials are converted to feed fish and shrimp. This reduces waste output while driving down feed costs and enhancing farm productivity by up to 20 percent.
4. Food for Thought