In addition to aquaculture to produce food stuffs, there is a growing ornamental fish industry. For instance, India's ornamental fish industry has taken off in the last few years; in Jalukbari, Assam, India, the local government and university biologists are outfitting and training traditional aquaculturists in ornamental fish production. In Chennai, Tamil Nadu Fisheries University (TNFU) is also dedicating a facility to training students in aquaculture of aquarium species. Of course, this industry is not cornered by India: Taiwan also has a burgeoning ornamental fish industry.
The growth of aquaculture internationally has strengthened global trade in fish and fish meal. For instance, the US is the sixth largest exporter of fish globally, sending most of these exports to the Chinese markets. However, the US also imports about 90% of its fish from international sources, mostly from China.
This type of exchange is not uncommon, but it has several implications, especially where fishmeal is concerned.
Remember that fishmeal (and fish oil) is (currently) required to feed farm raised fishes. So as aquaculture grows, the requirement for fishmeal also grows. Most fishmeal is made from groundfish, by-catch, and smaller species such as herring, whitefish, and anchovies. As larger apex pelagic predatory species such as salmon and tuna disappear from overfishing, necessitating the rise in farming of these species, smaller pelagic and groundfish species make up most of the fisheries around the world (this is called "fishing down, farming up"). But instead of feeding these edible and very nutritious fishes to nearby populations, they are turned into fishmeal for export to the aquaculture industry.
For instance, to produce one pound of farmed salmon requires the fish oil of roughly 5 smaller fishes and the fish meal of 1.3 other fishes. While the industry generally comes out even because most other fish don't require that much oil (so the additional 3.7 fish used for fish meal can be fed, without their oil, to shrimp or trout), the demand for salmon is on the rise globally.
In addition, salmon is a fish primarily destined for richer markets but feedfishes generally come from poorer countries. Take a look at this graph from Deutsch et al on the globalization of the aquaculture industry.
|Somali fisherman are being trained in new methods to bring in pelagic species for processing into fishmeal.|
In addition to the concerns about the depletion of needed resources in developing nations to those more developed, another concern raised by Deutsch et al is the dependence of major aquaculture industries on fishmeal from only a few sources. For instance, the effects of El Nino on Peruvian fishmeal production directly impacted the price of Norwegian, Scottish, and Canadian salmon because of their dependence on that fishmeal. This depended can lead to international impacts from local weather conditions.