Tips to Make Any Fish Farm More Sustainable

Tips to Make Any Fish Farm More Sustainable
Tips to Make Any Fish Farm More Sustainable. Image source: Pixabay

The aquaculture sector is growing rapidly across the world. While this is a good thing, the impacts this industry is having on the environment are going up, too. From farmed salmon displacing many indigenous salmon and an array of other fish to tons of sludge blanketing and degrading natural habitats, there is no question that old-school aquaculture techniques should be avoided.

There is some good news. Today, many aquaculture operators are utilizing the innovative technology available, gathering information about salmon farming, and taking steps to more sustainable practices. Keep reading to learn how to create an eco-friendly fish farm.

Select the Right Species of Fish

An invasive species is any type of non-native animal or plant that does not occur naturally in a certain location. The INNS, which they are often called, can spread and rob the native species of the resources needed for survival. Eventually, the INNS introduced to the area will completely overtake and replace the other species that were there or will start to hybridize them.

This is something that has happened in several countries, with fish like tilapia, which are extremely adaptable fish, displacing native freshwater species all across the tropics. In cooler climates, the non-native salmon have escaped from their pens and have started to displace the populations of native salmon. According to a recent study, in the U.S. alone, escaped exotic fish caused approximately $5.4 billion in losses each year. The investigations done in other areas have shown similar outcomes.

However, native species may perform better, because they have developed the habits and traits necessary to live in the local ecosystem. The local demand is typically higher because people from certain regions prefer the species of fish they are familiar with.

For farmers, it means they can ask a higher price and have a true incentive to select native species rather than exotic ones.

Choose the Right Location for the Farm

When choosing a new site for a fish farm, certain eco-sensitive areas, such as a mangrove forest, swamp, or coral reef should be avoided. If someone were to establish a farm in these locations, there would be significant consequences for local biodiversity. This is something that may occur if a person were to turn wetlands or mangrove forests into fishponds. Eventually, the farm effluents created would have a negative impact.

Excessive nutrients created by the new influx of farm effluents produced by the fish farm could cause eutrophication. The waters would appear murky, and sunlight would be blocked. Eventually, this results in a negative impact on plant and coral growth.

There is another benefit offered by avoiding these areas, too. Most swamp areas are prone to flooding. Coastal mangrove areas are full of mosquitoes. These present serious health and safety risks for the people working on the fish farm.

When choosing a site for marine cages, unless a person has the funds to purchase the best equipment available, an area that is susceptible to larger storms needs to be avoided. Storms can destroy expensive cages and pens. A better option is to choose a sheltered location that is protected from high waves.

Layout and Design of the Farm

Traditional fish farms, especially the pond farms, will release untreated wastewater right into the environment nearby. This is a huge concern for the natural ecosystem as well as nearby communities that may use water from public canals for washing dishes, bathing, and even drinking. Nearby fish farms may also be threatened. That is because pathogens will spread quickly if this type of disposal method is used.

Salmon. Image source: Pixabay

As a result, it is necessary for fish farms to design the pond operations in a way that will treat and then reuse the water. This is done by creating a few ponds exclusively for water treatment. For example, there could be a settling pond where solids collect on the bed. Bivalves, which are filter feeders, or some plants can be used to clean the water, and wood chips are effective at removing nitrates. It is also possible to add chemicals to eliminate pathogens present. Any discharged wastewater should go through this treatment process before it is disposed of.

A different solution would be to use a biofloc system. With this, waste materials, such as feces and uneaten food, are converted to food for shrimp and fish. This helps to reduce the output of waste and decrease overall feed costs.

Along with improving eco-sustainability, when a fish farmer embraces these practices, it will help to reduce water usage while minimizing the spread of certain pathogens.

Manage All Feeding Practices

Feeding the fish contributes to the most waste in and around fish farms. When using any trash fish food or low-quality pellets, the fish are going to ignore them. This means the food will sink to the bottom and cause the quality of the water to deteriorate. When released, the effluents will degrade the water quality found in the nearby area, too.

Similar to this, if a fish farm uses low-grade feed pellets that have a higher content of protein, higher levels of unused nutrients may wind up in the fish waste. This is going to pollute the water even more. It is best to use high-quality food that’s specifically designed for the species of fish in question. Along with minimizing pollution, higher-quality food will provide improved growth rates, higher health levels, and increase overall farm performance. It is important to remember that, when feeding fish, if trash is put in, trash will come out.

Building a Successful Fish Farm

There are several factors to consider when starting a fish farm. However, for fish farmers who want to create an eco-friendly location, the tips and information here should be followed. With this information, individuals will be ready to create a fish farm that is successful, profitable, and does not harm the local environment. Being informed, knowing what to do, and using the tips above are the best ways to create a successful fish farm.