Definition and Background
Aquaculture is defined as “
The farming of aquatic organisms including fish,mollusks, crustaceans and aquatic plants. Farming implies some sort of intervention inthe rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc. Farming also implies individual or corporate ownership of the stock being cultivated.”For statistical purposes, aquatic organisms which are harvested by an individual or corporate body which has owned them throughout their rearing period contribute toaquaculture, while aquatic organisms which are exploited by the public as a common property resource, with or without appropriate licenses, are the harvest of fisheries.
The earliest records of aquaculture can be found in the ancient Chinese, Japaneseand Egyptian cultures, dating back several thousand years. Until quite recently,aquaculture was not adopted as a means of commercial food production. However, withworld population increasing at a rapid rate, there has been an increased demand for animal protein. This has in turn created a strain on marine capture fisheries, and hasresulted in the collapse of valuable fisheries around the world. Because of this situation,aquaculture production has been increasing.The majority of aquaculture is practiced in freshwater (58.7%), followed bymariculture (35%), and brackish water culture (6.3%). Starting from an insignificanttotal production, inland and marine aquaculture production grew by about 5 percent per year between 1950 and 1969 and by about 8 percent per year during the 1970s and 1980s,and it has increased further by 10 percent per year since 1990. In 1998, aquacultureaccounted for 30.9 million tons, or 26.4% of total world fisheries production. Productionis dominated by Asian countries, particularly China.The most widely cultured fish are the carps, which are grown in China, India and parts of Europe. Tilapia are widely grown in many tropical countries, and in NorthAmerica, fish like salmon, trout and channel catfish are cultured. Non-fish species, suchas oysters, clams, seaweed, shrimp and eels are also cultured. Aquaculture is also carriedout for purposes other than the production of food fish, such as pearl culture and the production of aquarium fish.In Guyana, as part of the diversification drive of the agriculture sector, thegovernment is actively promoting aquaculture as a means of earning foreign exchange.This is due in part to globalization and the recent problems encountered in the rice andsugar sectors. In addition, we have seen a decline in the catches of several economicallyimportant marine fish and shrimp species. Aquaculture is therefore seen as an essentialactivity in our future.Locally, we are seeking initially to promote the culture of tilapia, freshwater prawns, swamp shrimps and hassar. In the future, other species may also be consideredfor culture.