Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 21, Issue 12, pp 3187–3220 | Cite as

Aquaculture: a newly emergent food production sector—and perspectives of its impacts on biodiversity and conservation

  • Sena S. De Silva
Original Paper


The fisheries sector in the course of the last three decades have been transformed from a developed country to a developing country dominance. Aquaculture, the farming of waters, though a millennia old tradition during this period has become a significant contributor to food fish production, currently accounting for nearly 50 % of global food fish consumption; in effect transforming our dependence from a hunted to a farmed supply as for all our staple food types. Aquaculture and indeed the fisheries sector as a whole is predominated in the developing countries, and accordingly the development strategies adopted by the sector are influenced by this. Aquaculture also being a newly emerged food production sector has being subjected to an increased level of public scrutiny, and one of the most contentious aspects has been its impacts on biodiversity. In this synthesis an attempt is made to assess the impacts of aquaculture on biodiversity. Instances of major impacts on biodiversity conservation arising from aquaculture, such as land use, effluent discharge, effects on wild populations, alien species among others are highlighted and critically examined. The influence of paradigm changes in development strategies and modern day market forces have begun to impact on aquaculture developments. Consequently, improvements in practices and adoption of more environmentally friendly approaches that have a decreasing negative influence on biodiversity conservation are highlighted. An attempt is also made to demonstrate direct and or indirect benefits of aquaculture, such as through being a substitute to meet human needs for food, particularly over-exploited and vulnerable fish stocks, and for other purposes (e.g. medicinal ingredients), on biodiversity conservation, often a neglected entity.


Food fish supply Farmed Effluents Alien species Tilapias Salmonids Shrimp Impacts Biodiversity Aquaculture 



I am grateful to a number of my colleagues and friends who engaged with me in numerous discussions on aquaculture–conservation–biodiversity issues, which have over the years enabled me to develop ideas that are reflected in this manuscript. In a similar vein my stint at the Network of Aquaculture Centres in the Asia–Pacific (NACA), 2006–2011, provided me further stimulation on the need to bring to public awareness for a balanced view on the afore mentioned issues.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life and Environmental SciencesDeakin UniversityWarrnamboolAustralia

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