Aquaculture today

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), when we speak about aquaculture, we refer to “the farming of aquatic organisms in both coastal and inland areas involving interventions in the rearing process to enhance production”1. And here we are not just talking about fish, but also molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants like algae.

According to the 2020 edition of The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture from FAO, 179 million tonnes of fish were produced in 2018 globally2 (Figures 1 & 2). 82 million tonnes of these came from aquaculture production, representing the 46% of the total production (Fig.1). Of the overall 156 million tonnes that were used for human consumption, aquaculture accounted for the 52% of it (Fig.1).

Figure 1: Total World Fisheries and aquaculture production in 2018.
Figure 2: World capture fisheries and aquaculture production (from FAO, 2020)2

In 2018, world aquaculture production was of 114.5 million tonnes in live weight (sale value of USD 263.6 billion). This was divided in the following:

  • 1 million tonnes of aquatic animals (USD 250.1 billion).
  • 4 million tonnes of aquatic algae (USD 13.3 billion).
  • 26 000 tonnes of ornamental seashells and pearls (USD 179 000).

World aquaculture production is leaded by Asia, with an 89% share in the last two decades2. China is the largest producer, and its total farmed and wild production in 2018 exceeded the 50% mark of aquaculture production as a percentage of total fish production2. China is followed by India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Norway, Japan, USA, the Russian Federation and Peru2 (Fig.3).

Figure 3: Aquaculture production as a percentage of total fish production in 2018.

Aquaculture is, therefore, the fastest growing food production system in the world3. However, despite aquaculture potentially allowing us to live within planet’s resource boundaries3, we need to be really careful. There are still many challenges within the industry that need to be addressed and, here in Norway, we have some experience.

Norway has been a world leader in farmed salmon since the production technique was pioneered in the late 1960s4. Since then, Norwegian salmon production has increased, reaching a yearly landing value of about NOK 60 billion (6.5 billion EUR)4. For example, Norwegian salmon production constituted 53% of the world’s production of Atlantic salmon in 20154. However, its environmental impact has also raised many problems; which have negatively affected the social perception. Salmon farming can affect wild salmon populations. When farmed fish escape and crosspawn with wild fish, the genes from both types of fish mix together, decreasing the genetic variability of the wild populations4. The other major problem is sea lice, a parasite that attaches to the salmon’s skin. This parasite is also found in natural conditions, which does not represent a major problem for the wild salmon. However, the large number of farmed salmon that is united in one cage can increase considerably the number of parasites that can spread along the fjords4. Keeping high volumes of fish in a cage also produces high volumes of organic material that can cover the seabed, turning in an eutrophication issue (excess of nutrients in a lake or other body of water)4. Another pollution problem appears when the aquaculture industry uses chemicals to treat the farmed fish against sea lice4.

During the past years there has been a huge effort to investigate on new sustainable technology and methods, and many regulations have been adopted in order to minimize these issues. Jason Clay (Senior Vice President, Market Transformation World Wildlife Fund) wrote: “Aquaculture is the future of seafood. But, make no mistake, there is still much to be done if we are going to double production by 2050 without using more resources. No one producer or institution can do everything. Everyone can do something. Together, we can make a difference. Think about it3.” We have thought about it, and Oxyl-Clean wants to make a difference, reducing the environmental pressure of aquaculture. We can do something, will you?


  1. FAO. FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture – Aquaculture. Available at: (Accessed: 20th January 2021)
  2. FAO. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture -2020 | FAO | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 1–244 (2020). Available at: (Accessed: 28th January 2021)
  3. Boyd, C. & McNevin, A. Aquaculture, Resource Use, and the Environment. (2015).
  4. Olaussen, J. O. Environmental problems and regulation in the aquaculture industry. Insights from Norway. Mar. Policy 98, 158–163 (2018).