Profitability in Aquaponics

To grow vegetables in water from a fish pond full of nutrients might sound like a brilliant idea, but is it really profitable? A study by reaearchers from the Wageningen Univesity showed that more than half of the 1000 commercial aquaponic farms worldwide make a loss. This was mainly the result of low market value for the produced vegetables and fish that were farmed. Before starting an aquaponics farm it is important to look at the market prospects. A niche in the market needs to be found that could make aquaponics more profitable. Tilapia and catfish usually won’t make it because they sell for far to cheap. Perch, burbot and pike could be interesting alternatives for the European market as their market value is much higher.

Schematic overview of a aquaponic system. Illustration retrieved from Baliga Lab, Institute for Systems Biology

Potential for Marine Aquaculture

NPR (2017). A Russian fish farming operation in Ura Bay in the Barents Sea

Consumption of seafood is expected to replace a considerable amount of meaty products in the future. Could widespread marine aquaculture in (open) coastal areas help in satisfying the global demand for seafood? Researchers from the University of California certainly think so. Using certain criteria they calculated that marine aquaculture could potentially produce 16.5 billions tons of fish per year or 4000 pounds per person! The question remains, however, where will the increased fish feed come from. Will high-protein vegetable crops be needed which production is based on land? Also, wild specimens need to caught in order to start a population of fish for breeding. Finally, care needs to taken on the implementation of marine aquaculture in coastal areas. Shrimp farms in South-East Asia have destroyed many coastal mangrove forests and discharged harmful contaminants in estuaries. Space is not necessarily an issue for marine aquaculture, it is more of applying it in a sustainable manner by rectifying the above challenges!

Link to the article:

http://www.npr.org/2017/08/15/543675398/can-we-feed-the-world-with-farmed-fish