When it comes to the future of commercial seafood consumption and trading, aquaculture is one of the key components in this area. It’s a field that’s often misunderstood, but fish farming can offer many benefits to both fish farmers and companies. Of course, like almost every industry, it has its own challenges. When we discuss aquaculture, we are referring to the raising, breeding, and harvesting of fish and other aquatic organisms in order for them to be sold commercially. In general, it’s an environmentally responsible practice that offers the fish a healthier habitat to rebuild the population of endangered species. On the other hand, commercial fishing is known for the burden that it places on the ecosystem.
By the end of 2025, it’s estimated that the global fish market will reach over 376 billion dollars. With the increase in demand for seafood, new infrastructure developments, and climate change to consider, fish farmers are working to find new answers to the challenges they are facing. With the need to monitor, maintain, and track the quality of their produce, fish farmers are opting for cutting-edge technology to offer a data-driven solution to make the best decisions for everyone.
The Current Challenges Faced in the US Fish Farming Market
The US is known for its high consumption of fish, with each American consuming an average of 7.2 kilograms of fish each year. This has increased from 6.7 kilograms back in 2016, with shrimp being one of the foods consumed the most in the country. In fact, in 2018, 0.7 billion kilograms of shrimp were consumed each year, which is roughly 30% of the market. To offer consumers this much shrimp, the country primarily uses fish farms in South East Asia. In this region of the world, aquaculture is very fragmented and decentralized, and data is often not accurate. This lack of monitoring makes it very hard to see the quality of the product from the start to the end of the chain.
A big concern when consuming fish products is health and safety. Many fish farmers use antibiotics to increase the longevity of shrimp, and there’s also the risk of poor management of the water. Both of these combined increases the bacteria growth on the produce, which reduces the quality and increases the risk to our health. In South East Asia, they also lack a structure to ensure social compliance policies are monitored. This often results in companies being unable to meet the standards that are expected elsewhere in the world. By using an end-to-end data management solution, fish farmers can manage the process from start to finish. Advancements in technology allow real-time insights and an improvement to production efficiency.
The Aquaculture Industry in Europe and the Climate Crisis
When compared to the South East Asia market, Europe is much more advanced in terms of certifications and gold standards. Of course, this does not mean the region can escape the current concerns surrounding climate change. Due to the rising temperatures around the world, the oceans have started to notice an increase in temperature, current, and waves. On top of that, there has been an increase in extreme weather conditions, which puts certain species under extreme stress. This impacts their ability to grow and survive, as most species need to live within a certain temperature bracket to survive. When the water temperature rises, it also increases the parasites and pathogens in the water, which in turn makes infection more likely.
You may be surprised to learn that even just a small increase in temperature can have a huge impact on the industry. In fact, in 2019, Norway lost an incredible 8 million salmon as a result of algae blooms in warm water. The same thing happened a few years earlier in Chile, where 27 million salmon were lost during this time. This was devastating for the region of Latin America, as Chile is the largest producer of this type of fish, and it lost the country a whopping 800 million dollars of their annual production. Aquaculture has unique challenges when compared to agriculture, and companies will need to monitor and use advanced data management techniques to ensure they make the right choices moving forward. By using smart weather prediction solutions, companies are able to manage production cycles even in areas that are experiencing unpredictable weather changes. By measuring pH levels within a fish farm, techniques and practices can be assessed to ensure the right choices are made. By planning and managing water budgets during drier periods, companies can ensure they don’t lose too much stock during these challenging times. We also recommend that companies look into satellite image processing and data analytics, which can help them to achieve their production goals. There are now solutions on offer which offer all of these technological advancements within one platform, making it quick and easy to implement in any business.
The Future of Aquaculture
While there are certainly concerns for fish farmers to be aware of within the aquaculture industry, there are still some positive areas of development within the industry. When fish farmers use technology to keep track of temperatures and water quality, they can still enjoy a fruitful harvest. We all know the climate crisis is an issue we need to be aware of, and this is one of many industries which will need to make changes to keep up with the struggles we are facing around the world. As with almost any industry, it’s inevitable that digitalization will take place within aquaculture in the next decade. Both fish farmers and corporations will use data more regularly to ensure they are staying ahead of the competition and providing the products that are needed for consumers worldwide.
Technology offers so many benefits to fish farmers who are struggling with the changes that are occurring worldwide. While climate change is a concern we should all be aware of, by keeping on top of data and adjusting processes as needed, fish farmers can keep up with the production needs and ensure their business is still profitable in the upcoming years.