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Aquaculture has been practiced for thousands of years and involves many species and farming methods.
It is the fastest growing animal food-producing sector in the world. If this growth continues, aquaculture will become as important as other food production like poultry, pork and even fishing!

Shrimp ponds carved out of mangrove forest in the Sarawak Mangrove Reserve area, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia


Aquaculture farms can have negative impacts on the environment if done badly:

  • The chemicals sometimes used can pollute the water.
  • If farmed fish escape, they can negatively impact wild populations.
  • Disease can spread from farmed to wild fish.
  • Feed production can require fishing species that are an important food source to both marine predators and people.

When done responsibly, the impacts of aquaculture can be minimal. Creating a sustainable supply of seafood will only be possible if the social and environmental impacts from aquaculture are minimised.

Seaweed on ropes - farming activities within Semporna, Sabah


When fish and crustaceans are farmed there is a need to provide them with nutritionally suitable feed (aquafeed). In the past a large proportion of this feed was made up of fish meal sourced from wild caught small fish, which put pressure on marine ecosystems.

Aquafeed now contains much less fish meal and more vegetable ingredients such as soy protein and rapeseed oil. However, these aquafeed ingredients come with their own issues of deforestation, freshwater use and greenhouse gas emissions.

WWF is looking into alternative feed products such as seaweed. These marine plants don’t require feed when farmed and can absorb excess nutrients from the seas, helping to reduce pollution risk without needing land, freshwater or fertiliser. Seaweed and other aquatic plants have great potential to provide feed (e.g. protein) and nutrients (e.g. DHA, oil) for farmed fish and crustaceans - around 30 million tonnes of seaweed is already produced globally, but there is potential to grow much more.