Effects of Overfishing and Aquaculture on Biodiversity

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The importance of fishery products for local food production is increasing day by day. Whether in developing or developed countries. This is generating the need for Aquaculture. Fishery production has risen up to 72.4% of all capture harvest in developing countries. Of all the culture harvest, it has risen up to 92.3%. Here comes the question, what are the Effects of Fisheries and Aquaculture on Biodiversity?

Effects of Overfishing and Aquaculture on Biodiversity

What is Aquaculture?

Aquaculture is farming of aquatic organisms like fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and aquatic plants.

The capture fisheries production remained stable over recent years. While “Aquaculture” has become the fastest-growing system for food production globally.

Aquaculture utilizes cages and other forms of storage structures to process fish production in natural water sources. A method that is comparable to feedlots or controlled animal feed operations. While total land conversion would be troublesome, there has been far less land conversion for aquaculture than for agriculture.  Aquaculture has some positive impacts on biodiversity.

Positive Effects of Fisheries and Aquaculture on Biodiversity

  • Harvested fish can reduce pressure on over-exploited wild populations
  • Stocking animals may raise distressing supplies
  • Aquaculture also enhances natural production and abundance of species
  • Aquaculture work may supplement more harmful uses of capital

Are there Negative Effects of Aquaculture on Biodiversity?

In most cases, aquaculture activities are harmful to biodiversity. So there is no such food production system that is sustainable in its true meaning. As from the perspective of energy and biodiversity, all food production system including aquaculture requires energy. It also requires changing the land cover and it generates wastes. 

Effects of Overfishing and Aquaculture

Here is a list of the most disastrous impacts of aquaculture on biodiversity

  1. Invasion of species
  2. Environmental degradation for biodiversity by eutrophication
  3. Harm to the wild marine and freshwater organisms

By way of these forms of destruction, if not properly managed, aquaculture has the potential to radically alter the present biodiversity.

The Possible Invasion of Species

The risk of escaped marine and freshwater organisms reaching ecosystems and wiping out native species is quite strong where aquaculture is in or near the existing bodies of water. A large number of organisms are farmed in aquaculture all over the world.

As a result, aquaculture has led to the introduction of many invasive species into the ecosystem, and poor practices can cause more frequent occurrences of invasions. The emergence of agricultural species may endanger both the ecosystems and gene pools of wild populations, forcing them and the local ecosystem to change dramatically.

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Many escapes are able to threaten their survival

Organisms that are either intentionally or unintentionally released can replicate quite successfully in their new habitat. Many escapes are able to threaten their survival by competing and outnumbering wild populations, such as salmon has this ability. Their interference may lead to a change in the structure of the landscape, which would have an important influence on the existing habitats that would otherwise be present.

This way, the biodiversity of surroundings can damage to a greater extent and it is then become difficult to control.  Read more about 7 Most causes of Global Warming

Environmental Degradation for Biodiversity by Eutrophication

The other impact of aquaculture on biodiversity is produced by Eutrophication. Eutrophication is the availability of nutrients in excess amounts in any water body. It destroys the environment for organisms by the growth of unnecessary plants and algae. As a consequence of the rapid growth of the industry, the productivity and environmental impact of Aquaculture is often tracked for the higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen waste, energy use and land usage are observed.

Aquaculture has a variety of harmful practices

Such as water pollution from dam drainage, improper use of pesticides to treat disease, salinization of soil by groundwater leaching, and widespread use of freshwater for agricultural purposes. Many of these activities are destroying the ecosystem and damaging biodiversity in a manner that is irreversible. These fish farms and aquaculture are increasing causes of biodiversity damages and anthropogenic disturbance.

Often, when farmed in a natural water source, fish cages and nets see the release of large quantities of organic waste that disperse through the water stream and may contribute to biochemical changes and causing deoxygenation of the aquatic environment, thus impacting benthic ecosystems.

In the aquaculture sector, the fishery will encourage an increased rate of eutrophication. This can severely damage coastal ecosystems and biodiversity by introducing factors such as phosphorous and nitrogen.

The damage caused by eutrophication may contribute to disruptions

Such impacts, which, in turn, may lead to a significant decline in the biodiversity of the region, further damaging the ecosystem. The damage to biodiversity by eutrophication is increasing. Many countries including Canda, the United States and Australia are now establishing offshore farming for improving the sustainability in these for production processes.

Other possible Effects of Fisheries and Aquaculture on Biodiversity

  • Changes in Fauna of the marine bodies by the invasion of species
  • Sensitive ecosystems such as Mangroves and wetlands conversions into aquaculture threatening their biodiversity
  • Transfer of disease and parasites to the land organisms including the humans
  • Overexploitation of fish stocks and resource use
  • Genetic modification in current supplies of escaped hatchery items.
  • Predator mortality owing, for example, to the killing of birds around aquaculture facilities
  • Hormonal and Antibiotic use may affect aquatic species in the area of aquaculture facilities

Conclusion on Effects of Fisheries and Aquaculture on Biodiversity

Aquaculture and fishery are the productions of freshwater organisms on a larger scale by humans. These systems are helpful in the production of food to a larger extent. But these systems are impacting biodiversity.

The negative impacts on biodiversity, such as species that escape from aquaculture, may become invasive in areas where they are non-native. Eutrophication may be caused by aquaculture effluents which destroy the biodiversity in return. Ecologically sensitive land including mangroves and wetlands may be converted for aquaculture use. This affects the habitat of other organisms. Aquaculture species may consume increasingly scarce fish meals leading to the extinction of a specific species. Also, aquaculture species may transmit diseases to wild fish.

This destruction to biodiversity by fishery and aquaculture should be controlled. Industries should take sustainable measures to overcome these problems.

To learn more about the environment, check 5 Books You Need to Read if You Care About Climate Change.

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