Aquaculture Q&A

1. What is the history of aquaculture and when did its surge in popularity begin?

Aquaculture has recently gained a lot of attention with the huge growth in global demand for fish.  Mindful consumerism and healthier eating are driving a lot of that growth.  But fish farming is not new.  The Food and Agriculture Organisation[i] (FAO) says there is evidence of aquaculture activity from about 4,000 years ago.  Aquaculture in its ‘modern’ form was first introduced in Germany in 1733 and since then, the industry has continued to develop with the introduction of new advancements, techniques and technologies like Evoqua’s, as well as more responsible environmental practices.


2. What are the world’s major aquaculture markets and what are some of the key factors[1] in their success?

Allied Market Research[ii] says that the size of the ‘big five’ (pompano, snapper, salmon, milkfish, and tuna) major aquaculture market was valued at $62.5 billion in 2018, and is estimated to reach $87.6 billion by 2025. In 2018, the others segment accounted for more than 40 per cent of the total five major aquaculture market.   Developed countries like Norway, Chile, the UK, Greece, Turkey and Spain are major contributors to the market, while developing countries like China and Thailand are experiencing strong growth.

Many of these countries, like Norway, have installed non-chemical UV disinfection systems to prevent disease and ensure optimal fish health.  These aquaculture applications must be approved by the Norwegian Veterinary Institute in order to certify fish farms and adhere to strict standards about the use and dosage of any chemical treatments.  Field testing of dosage methods measure actual disinfection performance and ensures sustainability and fish health.


3. What are your thoughts on food supply security in terms of rising global populations, and how can an industry like aquaculture contribute?

The global population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2055 and fish plays a huge role in feeding that growing number[2].  Today, fish provides more than 4.5 billion people with at least 15% of their average intake of animal protein, and its nutritional properties make it essential to the health of billions of consumers in both developed and developing countries.

Fish ‘production’ has a lower carbon footprint than other animal production systems, and through activities like aquaculture, fish contribute substantially to the income (and therefore to the indirect food security) of more than 10% of the world population.

Sustainable products that create a safe environment within aquaculture are essential for the protection and growth of this market.


4. Is climate change an important factor in the aquaculture industry, and how are those risks being mitigated?

The FAO[3] says that almost 550 million people worldwide depend on fisheries and aquaculture as a source of protein and income[4] so the impact that climate change will have on world fisheries and aquatic ecosystems is critical and looming large.

The effects related to climate change will undoubtedly affect fisheries and habitats, and will have major impacts on aquaculture productivity and security, as well as their dependent communities and related economic activities.

The implications of climate change for food security and aquaculture industry are significant, but with hatcheries increasing in number, population and sophistication, sustainable production of fish for future generations is looking increasingly safe.


5. Are changes in consumption patterns impacting the industry?  If so, how?

Sustainability and the notion of a circular economy are high on both the industry and consumer radar[5]. One of the most important sustainability platforms relates to fish and seafood.  The rise of seafood as a staple alternative protein is clear. A 2017 study said that one in two UK consumers would consider fish and seafood as an alternative to meat, with industry responding to this consumer interest with a +12% rise reported in fish and seafood applications.

Growth in the global supply of fish for human consumption has outpaced population growth in the past five decades.  Fish consumption increased from an average of 9.9kg in the 1960s to 14.4kg in the 1990s and 19.7kg in 2013, with current estimates pointing towards further growth beyond 25kg[6]

The intensity of fishing activity, combined with the increasing demand for fish, has meant enormous growth in the aquaculture industry. People are choosing to live more mindful, healthier lifestyles, which includes eating more fish. This correlates to the increase the number of hatcheries and well boats required to cope with growth in demand.


6. What is the process of raising fish in a healthy aquaculture environment?

From egg to smolt, the fish spend around 12 – 18 months in a land-based hatchery. At the hatchery each fish is vaccinated by hand to resist the natural viruses and diseases found in the oceans before they are transferred to salt water.  At about 40 days, they are ready to receive food through the mouth. It is important to provide good water quality, adequate temperature and excellent feed availability and composition.  The fish are now called fry, and are held in tanks where they are fed a fine feed crumble. While they grow, they are sorted based on size and gradually introduced to pelleted feed. Smoltification is the physiological process where the fish adapts to live in sea water – which is delayed as long as possible to protect fish health and production numbers.


7. What are the solutions that Evoqua is rolling out to key players in the aquaculture industry, and what impact are they having?

Evoqua has different applications for the aquaculture industry including sustainable disinfection solutions for fish hatcheries, well boats (used to transport live salmon), recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) used to raise the smolts for up to 18 months, and fish processing plants (wastewater).  These are the types of solutions that prevent outbreaks of ISA (Infectious Salmon Anaemia) and parasitic sea lice which can not only harm fish health, but cause a total stock cull on any fish farm affected.

Utilising UV technologies to keep water clean and free from disease can increase yields in existing infrastructures.  Our expertise and solutions can help farmers produce healthier and larger fish, improved water quality, possible increases in stock density and vastly reduces the risk of disease.

Our UV systems offer the effective & proven inactivation of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, moulds & pathogens without the use of chemicals.

UV solutions are used for disinfection and removal of organic and inorganic contaminants, including chlorine, ozone and total organic carbon (TOC).  What is good about UV technology is that it is often used where conventional chlorine disinfection cannot be applied and can also be used in Advanced Oxidation (AOP).

The key benefits of Evoqua’s UV technology in aquaculture are multifarious.  UV requires no storage, handling or transportation of toxic or corrosive chemicals; it is highly effective at inactivating a wide range of microorganisms including chlorine tolerant pathogens; and it enables water reuse capabilities to meet sustainability objectives and boost production.

I am proud to say that Evoqua has the broadest range of disinfection technologies on the market, which can be applied across the aquaculture industry. Our ozone solutions remove farm water impurities such as organics, pesticides and nitrites, while reducing discoloration/tannins, thus enabling the fish to remain healthy throughout the farming process. Evoqua analyzers and controllers provide monitoring solutions for disinfection process parameters assuring compliance with health, safety and regulatory standards and providing peace of mind for aquaculture producers. 


Diane White is the Industrial Disinfection Sales Manager, Aquaculture for Evoqua Water Technologies, EMEA.

Connect with Diane White on LinkedIn.


[1][2][3] Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations[4][5][6] [i][ii]