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Aquaculture or Fish Farming | Meaning, Importance, Conditions, Basic Rules & Regulations

1. Aquaculture Meaning

This is the practice of cultivating aquatic organisms, such as fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants, in controlled environments. It involves the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of these organisms, usually in ponds, tanks, or other enclosures. There are several types of aquaculture, including:

  • Mariculture: This refers to the cultivation of marine organisms, such as fish, mollusks, and crustaceans, in coastal or offshore waters.
  • Freshwater Aquaculture: This involves raising aquatic organisms in freshwater environments, such as ponds, lakes, or tanks.
  • Brackish Water Aquaculture: In this type, organisms that thrive in both freshwater and saltwater conditions are raised in areas where freshwater and saltwater mix, like estuaries.
  • Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture: This approach involves cultivating different species in the same environment to create a balanced ecosystem where the waste from one species serves as nutrients for another.
  • Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS): RAS involves keeping aquatic organisms in tanks or containers and continuously filtering and recirculating the water to maintain water quality.

2. Fish Farming

This refers to the practice of cultivating fish in controlled environments for commercial purposes. It’s a subset of aquaculture that focuses specifically on raising fish species. Fish farming can take place in ponds, tanks, cages, or other enclosed spaces, and it involves providing the necessary conditions for fish growth, such as feeding, water quality management, and disease control.

Fish farming, also known as pisciculture, entails the commercial cultivation of carefully chosen fish species within meticulously controlled conditions. These conditions are maintained within enclosed water environments like ponds, lakes, and more. In these settings, the fish not only live and feed but also reproduce, ultimately serving the purpose of human consumption. Commonly reared fish species for commercial purposes include salmon, tilapia, catfish, and crab.

Fishery refers to the scientific exploration of fish and other aquatic creatures. Fish predominantly inhabit various water bodies, ranging from ponds and lakes to oceans, seas, and rivers. They respire through gills and employ their fins for propulsion. As cold-blooded organisms, their internal body temperature varies in response to changes in their surroundings.

3. Importance/Significance of Fish Farming

  • Nutrition: Fish and various aquatic organisms constitute a fundamental part of the human diet. Fish meat is esteemed for its high-quality animal proteins, vitamins, and essential mineral salts and compounds that contribute to human well-being and vitality. The tender texture and palatability of fish, crabs, prawns, and squid make them appealing food sources. Additionally, fish eggs, including the preserved and salted version known as caviar, are frequently consumed. Turtle eggs also find common culinary use.
  • Leather Production: The sturdy skin of cartilaginous fish like sharks, characterized by small, pointed spines, possesses remarkable durability. Upon drying and specialized treatment, it transforms into a distinct kind of leather referred to as shagreen. Crocodile and turtle skins are similarly utilized to craft premium leather items such as handbags, wallets, belts, and shoes.
  • Surface Polishing: The dried skin of fish, or shagreen, is occasionally employed as a polishing agent, much like sandpaper, to refine surfaces.
  • Ornamental Use: Fish scales occasionally serve as materials for crafting artificial pearls, which are fashioned into decorative beads. Pearls found within oysters are refined and adorned as jewellery pieces.
  • Soap and Medicinal Applications: Extracts obtained from fish, whales, and turtles are employed both as dietary supplements and in the production of medicines and soap. Cod liver oil, a widely consumed product, holds a prominent place as a nutritional supplement.
  • Livestock Feed: Numerous fish species and their byproducts, not suitable for direct human consumption, are processed into fish meals, serving as a vital component in the production of livestock feed.
  • Construction: Oyster and periwinkle shells are sometimes blended with sand and cement to reinforce building structures. Periwinkles contribute to both strength and aesthetic appeal in walls.
  • Adhesive and Fertilizer Production: Fish bones are harnessed for creating adhesives and fertilizers, serving a range of practical applications.
  • Economic Income: Fish farming serves as a reliable source of income for individuals and communities engaged in its practice, contributing to economic sustenance and growth.
  • Food Security: Fish farming contributes to global food security by providing a significant source of protein for human consumption.
  • Economic Growth: Fish farming supports livelihoods and economies in many regions by creating jobs and generating revenue through the sale of fish.
  • Reduced Pressure on Wild Fisheries: Fish farming helps relieve the pressure on wild fish populations, which are often overexploited.
  • Environmental Conservation: Well-managed fish farming can have a lower environmental impact compared to some forms of wild fishing, as it reduces bycatch and habitat destruction.

4. Conditions for Siting a Fish Pond:

  • Proximity to Water Source: A reliable and clean water source is essential for filling and maintaining the pond.
  • Topography: The land should have the proper slope to allow for efficient water management and drainage.
  • Soil Quality: The soil should have good water retention and drainage properties. Clay or loamy soils are often preferred.
  • Climate: The local climate should be suitable for the fish species being cultivated.
  • Access to Infrastructure: Access to roads, electricity, and other necessary infrastructure is important for managing the pond.

5. Establishing and Maintaining a Fish Pond:

  • Construction: Dig the pond according to design, considering size, depth, and shape.
  • Water Source: Ensure a reliable water supply to fill the pond and maintain water levels.
  • Stocking: Introduce fish fingerlings or juveniles into the pond.
  • Feeding: Provide appropriate feed for the fish based on their species and growth stage.
  • Water Quality Management: Monitor and manage water quality by addressing factors like oxygen levels, temperature, pH, and waste buildup.
  • Disease Prevention: Implement biosecurity measures to prevent disease outbreaks among the fish population.
  • Harvesting: Harvest mature fish at the appropriate size for sale or consumption.

6. Basic Laws and Regulations on Fishing in Nigeria:

Fishery regulations comprise directives and statutes governing the utilization and management of fishery resources.

These regulations encompass the following provisions:

  • Catch Quota: This approach involves controlling fishing by setting a specific allowable quantity of fish that each fisherman is permitted to catch. It may also involve regulating the number of fishermen through the issuance of permits or licenses.
  • Close Season: A rule that temporarily suspends fishing during specific periods to allow young fish to mature and grow. This helps in maintaining sustainable fish populations.
  • Mesh Size Regulation: This entails using standardized nets or meshes to capture only mature fish, allowing juvenile fish to reach maturity before harvesting.
  • Population Control: Methods like controlled cannibalism, where certain fish species consume others, or early harvesting are employed to prevent overpopulation and maintain a balanced ecosystem.
  • Regular Stocking: The intentional introduction of compatible fish species into water bodies to enhance fish population.
  • Vessel Restrictions: Prohibiting vessels (except canoes) from fishing within the first two nautical miles of the Nigerian Continental Shelf to preserve fishery resources.
  • Ban on Explosives: Absolute prohibition of explosive usage, as it results in the indiscriminate killing of fish, including juveniles.
  • Prohibition of Poisonous Chemicals: Banning the use of poisonous chemicals such as Gammalin 20, which poses a threat to both young and mature fish populations.
  • Landing Tax: Imposing taxes based on the total catch and fish sizes at the landing site to support resource management efforts.
  • Allocation of Fishing Areas: Individual fishermen are assigned specific fishing zones to prevent encroachment into larger fishing areas, ensuring responsible resource utilization.

7. Different Fishing Tools and Their Uses:

  • Fishing Rod and Reel: A rod with a reel attached, used for casting bait or lures into the water and reeling in fish.
  • Fishing Net: A mesh tool used to catch fish by entangling them as the net is pulled through the water.
  • Fishing Line: A strong cord or thread used to attach bait or lures to a fishing rod.
  • Fish Trap: A container with an entrance designed to allow fish to swim in but not out, used to catch fish passively.
  • Trawling Nets: Large nets pulled behind boats to catch fish in open water.
  • Spears and Harpoons: Tools used for hunting fish in shallow water or while diving.
  • Longlines: A series of baited hooks attached to a single line, used to catch larger fish like tuna and swordfish.
  • Gillnets: Nets that hang vertically in the water, catching fish by entangling their gills.
  • Fish Seines: Large nets used to encircle schools of fish, often used in shallow waters.

See also:

Animal Diseases | Preventive, Control, and Curative Methods

Ecto and Endo Parasites of Livestock

Livestock Diseases and Their Causal Organisms

Animal Diseases

Artificial Insemination | Method of collection of semen, Advantages and Disadvantages

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