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Irresponsible aquaculture could threaten environment, report warns

The global aquaculture industry needs to improve operational efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of fish farming as production climbs from 65.8 million tonnes (t) in 2008 to over 100 million t by 2030, according to a new report from WorldFish and Conservation International (CI) released at the ASEAN SEAFDEC Conference in June 2011.

The report, Blue Frontiers: Managing the environmental costs of aquaculture, is a comprehensive analysis of global aquaculture production across all major species and farm production systems.

In a world first, the report also offers a global assessment of trends and impacts of cultivated seafood. It compares aquaculture with other animal food production systems and extrapolates the data to identify potential future environmental impacts.

"There are a number of well-founded concerns about aquaculture, in terms of its impacts on marine ecosystems and wild fisheries", said Dr. Sebastian Troeng, vice president for marine conservation for Conservation International.

Statistics from the report:

• Over 50% of global seafood comes from aquaculture.

• 73% of salmon comes from aquaculture.

• Production of one kilogram of fin fish protein requires less than 13.5 kg of grain compared to 61.1 kg of grain for beef protein.

• The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates over 84 percent of the world's fisheries are depleted or overexploited.

Blue Frontiers was released in order to inform policy makers and NGOs on the impact of aquaculture on the environment while fostering dialog between stakeholders.

Report findings include:

• Demand for aquaculture products will continue to grow over the next two decades as a key source of animal protein for growing urban populations.

• The aquaculture industry must improve its operational efficiency and reduce its environmental impact in order to meet this demand.

• Fish farmers can understand and comply with environmental regulations while implementing good management practices.

The authors will share the study's 75 unique production data sets regarding the 13 species they looked at. This includes specific information on species, country, production system and habitat. It also includes data concerning production intensity, environmental services, fertilizer and feed use and nitrogen and phosphorous emissions.

Interested parties are invited to make use of this data and to share their comments and statistics. The authors aim to improve knowledge regarding aquaculture's environmental cost and to foster improved life cycle analysis of future aquaculture commodities, while also helping foster development of better aquaculture management strategies.

The report is available for download.

Hard copies are available at no extra charge (subject to shipping and handling charges) in WorldFish’s print publications catalogue. 

About WorldFish

WorldFish, a member of the CGIAR Consortium, is an international, nonprofit research organization committed to reducing poverty and hunger through fisheries and aquaculture.


CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research centers who are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations.

Conservation International

Based in Washington, DC and founded in 1987, Conservation International (CI) has 900 employees and 1,000 partners working in 30 countries on four continents. Building on science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, global biodiversity, and the long term well-being of people. For more information, visit, and follow us on Twitter: @ConservationOrg.

For more information or to request an interview:

Contact: Toby Johnson, Senior Media Relations Manager

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