The irresponsible use of chemicals such as antibiotics, antifoulants and pesticides on fish farms can have unintended impacts on marine and human health. Responsible aquaculture farms only use approved chemicals in accordance with prescribed dosages and applications, and store chemicals in safe places.
The ideal location for most aquaculture facilities is along highly productive coastal regions, where mangrove and seagrass habitats are naturally found. WWF advocates environmentally sound coastal planning that prevents the destruction of such important habitats in the approval and construction of aquaculture operations.
The concentration of fish or other farmed species can cause increased nutrient production through faeces and aquaculture food, and threaten surrounding biodiversity. WWF works with farms and governments to ensure that animal densities do not exceed levels where the nutrients can be treated on-farm or assimilated by the local environment. Good design and location (where coastal flushing and tidal movements can aid nutrient dispersal) are crucial.
Animals kept under higher than natural densities can be more susceptible to disease outbreaks, which can be transferred from one site to another. Responsible aquaculture operators manage their stock to ensure that optimum health is maintained and monitored, and that immediate steps are taken in the event of disease to prevent it spreading to the natural environment.
Fish meal and fish oils, usually derived from wild fish, are key ingredients of aquaculture food and we need to reduce the amount of wild fish it takes to produce farmed fish (the ‘fish in – fish out’ ratio, or FIFO). It typically takes about 4.9 tonnes of wild fish to produce one tonne of salmon.