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New technology and innovation in aquaculture and offshore cage farming

Aquaculture

Technology can be most broadly defined as the entities, both material and immaterial, created by the application of mental and physical effort in order to achieve some value. In this usage, technology refers to tools and machines that may be used to solve real-world problems. Technology is important because it makes you feel more secure with every area in life for both personal and business reasons. With technology advancing more people can have access to supplies such as fresh water and food because technology can help deliver those items to people that otherwise couldn’t get it. With proper use of technology life on earth, can be made a lot better for all humans.

Aquaculture Technology:

The systems, equipment and technology used in aquaculture has developed rapidly in the last fifty years. They vary from very simple facilities (e.g. family ponds for domestic consumption in tropical countries) to high technology systems (e.g. intensive closed systems for export production). Much of the technology used in aquaculture today is relatively simple, often based on small modifications that improve the growth and survival rates of the target species, e.g. improving food, seeds, oxygen levels and protection from predators. Simple systems of small freshwater ponds, used for raising herbivorous and filter feeding fish, account for about half of global aquaculture production.

A greater understanding of complex interactions between nutrients, bacteria and cultured organisms, together with advances in hydrodynamics applied to pond and tank design, have enabled the development of closed systems. These have the advantage of isolating the aquaculture systems from natural aquatic systems, thus minimizing the risk of disease or genetic impacts on the external systems.


New Developments:

There has been rapid development of advanced technology in the aquaculture industry, particularly as used in intensive aquaculture where there is high production per cubic meter farming volume. It is predicted that the expansion of the aquaculture industry will lead to further technical developments with more, and cheaper, technology being available for use in the industry in future years.

Developments in engineering, some adapted from offshore oil rig construction, increase the possibilities for a progressive offshore expansion of aquaculture using robust cages. Culture-based capture fisheries involving the release of young fish into the wild to improve harvest (an operation also referred to as restocking, stock enhancement or ranching) have existed for a long time for freshwater and anadromous species (e.g. salmon). Sea ranching, however, has just made a start but its long-term viability is being assessed. Advances have also been made in capture-based aquaculture involving the growing/fattening of young fish (e.g. tuna) captured from the wild. Potential conflicts with capture fisheries are being assessed. Major progress has also been made in the aquafeeds technology, combining many ingredients into very small pellets.

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Author

  • Manager, Aquaculture, Department of Animal Sciences, Stellenbosch University

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