The impact of aquaculture on the marine environment is expected to surge in the coming decades due to the estimated expansion of the sector. Aquaculture depends heavily on catching wild fish to feed farmed fish, which contributes to increased pressure on wild fish populations. This exacerbates overfishing and increases the risk of biodiversity loss. Broader challenges are linked to the use of unknown quantities of veterinary drugs and chemicals, ineffective disease management, and the wider environmental impacts which are yet uncertain due to the lack of credible data. Seas At Risk aims to make the European aquaculture sector more environmentally responsible by advocating for the use of alternative and more sustainable  aquaculture feed ingredients, as well as the use of farming practices that have a lower impact on the environment such as integrated multi-trophic aquaculture systems or aquaponics.

Low impact and responsible aquaculture has the potential to contribute to the recovery of wild fish stocks and can provide an answer to the increasing demand for protein of an ever-growing world population. However, key issues such as health and feed need to be addressed to avoid the mistakes of industrial animal farming on land.

Marc-Philip Buckhout, Policy Officer at Seas At Risk.