Herbivorous Fish Farming & Mollusk Aquaculture
China, the birthplace of aquaculture, produces more farm-raised fish protein than the rest of the world combined. Over a span of 4000 years the Chinese have perfected the practice of pond poly-culture, a method of growing freshwater fish like carp that are herbivorous (they feed on plant-based foods, not other fish). This type of aquaculture feeds millions of people and is regarded by many experts as a state-of-the-art approach that could help feed the entire world. Traditionally these ponds have been integrated with rice farming in which agricultural wastes from the fields feed the fish, and waste from the ponds fertilize the fields.
Outside of China there are species of omnivorous fish being farm-raised that require very little fishmeal, such as tilapia and catfish. Originally from the Nile River, and thought to be the fish that Jesus fed to the multitudes, tilapia has become one of the top ten species being imported into the U.S. All of it is being farm-raised in warm water regions like Latin America and Southeast Asia. Farmed catfish have become a culinary favorite in southern states across the U.S. and catfish aquaculture has become an economic mainstay in Mississippi. Breeds have been developed that require a bare minimum of fishmeal and fish oil.
Shellfish are another type of animal that do not require fishmeal or fish oil. In China, vast areas of the Yellow Sea are regularly seeded with juvenile scallops, clams, oysters and abalone that are produced in hatcheries. The ever-increasing harvests feed millions of people throughout the country. Shellfish are also being grown in the U.S. and Europe, providing delectable, affordable seafood in volumes that now far exceed the wild harvest. Because filter-feeding bivalves and mollusks take all their nutrients from filtering seawater, they are an excellent choice for a sustainable form of aquaculture that is helping to take pressure off our oceans.