FBA Issue 5: November / December 2005


The use of probiotics in aquaculture


by Christian L¨¹ckstädt


The current situation in world food supply calls for great efforts to be made to meet the requirements for staple diets and high-quality food amid a growing world population, as well as to bridge the widening gap between food demand and supply, especially in developing countries. Setbacks in any food production sector will place greater pressure on other sectors that supply to growing populations in urban and rural areas, particularly in less developed countries.


Around one billion people depend on fish as their main source of protein, and this number is likely to increase further as world population is estimated to grow at an annual rate of 2 percent. Aquaculture now provides more than 22 percent of consumable aquatic products.


Most aquaculture production takes place in developing countries and mainly in Asia. Between 1987 and 1996, aquaculture production of food fish increased by 148 percent per annum, while livestock meat and fisheries grew yearly by only 3 and 1.6 percent respectively. At present, aquaculture is the only sector of growth in the fishing industry and is also reputed to be the fastest growing food production sector in the world.


Since the early 1980s, aquaculture has seen yearly growth rates of about 10 percent. Still, the pace of increase is much greater in the developing than developed world, because of Asia's economic progress. As a result, global production of farmed fish and shellfish has more than doubled in volume and value in the past 15 years. If aquaculture produce not directly consumed by humans, such as seaweed, are included, then the world's aquaculture production would have more than tripled by weight and value between 1984 and 1996. The contribution of aquaculture to total fish production directly consumed by humans is currently more than 25 percent.


Aquaculture should be recognised as a part of the natural environment where different farming systems operate within larger ecosystems using available natural resources such as water, natural food supply, oxygen, harvested animals and also degraded resources.  Folke and Kautsky (1992) described aquaculture as an economic subsystem of an overall ecosystem where the source of all energy and farm inputs lie. Recycling of waste matter is part of the process of this ecosystem.



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