Aquaculture is the same as every business; there are good and bad ways to do it.
Good aquaculture produces high-quality protein without damaging the environment. Bad aquaculture has a high impact on the environment and produces expensive, bad tasting, low in protein fish.
However, in practice, the line between good and bad aquaculture is not as clear cut as this. It’s easy to make mistakes, even if your intentions are good.
To help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls, I have curated an easy four-step process for creating a good aquaculture business.
What Is Good Aquaculture?
There are four basic stages for creating a good aquaculture business: choose the correct species, produce the right food, create a sustainable process, and limit your environmental impact.
Choose a species that are content to just eat without moving very much. The more the fish move, the more space you need, the more water you need, and therefore the more energy you need.
We apply the same principle in agriculture all the time by breeding lazy animals that are happy to just sit and eat, like pigs and sheep. We do not farm hyperactive animals like antelopes because they would be too costly to mass produce.
It is important to produce the right type of food. This means food that is high in good protein, low in cost, and with the right fat profile. It should also have the right flavour and not be full of antibiotics and hormones.
We eat fish because it's clean protein, so it would be silly to take the clean natural environment species and turn it into mass produced, factory farmed, terrible fish and replicate the problems on land.
Your process should be sustainable. This is important both for your business and the environment.
You should avoid practices like dredging at all costs because they are damaging and limiting. You cannot dredge forever, so you will not be providing your business with a long shelf life.
You should also avoid "quick win" techniques that require large quantities of energy. Whatever processes and technologies you choose should be financially and environmentally sustainable in the long run.
Above all, good aquaculture must not harm the environment.
One of the most common problems caused by aquaculture is an excess of algae blooms which form as a result of the concentrated fish waste.
The blooms increase the nitrates in the water and make it very hard for natural wildlife to survive. If left unchecked, algae blooms can decimate miles and miles of healthy sea life.
To be considered a good aquaculture business, you must avoid causing this type of damage.
What Is Bad Aquaculture?
As I previously mentioned, bad aquaculture damages the environment without producing a tasty and healthy protein.
However, there is a caveat to this. We cannot criticize the pioneers of aquaculture because they did amazing things alongside making mistakes. Although some of the early aquaculture was "bad," it was not bad to try.
Every new venture must go through less than perfect stages before it starts working well and becomes profitable.
How Do You Avoid Bad Aquaculture?
Avoiding bad aquaculture takes time, care, and patience.
Before even stepping on to a development site, make sure that your business model meets the aforementioned checklist. It will take time, much species analysis, and multiple amendments before you have the seed for a successful business.
I always must warn you against trying to reverse engineer a high value species. Caviar may be expensive, but that does not automatically mean it is profitable.
Think about a species which matches the criteria for aquaculture and then create the market after. In aquaculture, the process should always come before the product.
As long as you do your R&D, take your time, and follow the four best practices outlined above, you will avoid bad aquaculture.