Introduction to Aquaculture: The Pros and Cons of Fish Production
Grade Level: High School
Includes curriculum unit + CD-ROM of images + video lecture on DVD
Aquaculture, or fish farming, has been around for centuries in small, rural settings, but it has exploded worldwide in the past few decades into a commercial activity for the global market. Today, farmed fish make up more than one-fourth of the fish we eat, and fish production from the aquaculture industry is an attractive means to relieve the stress on the ocean's fisheries.
Unfortunately, if it is mismanaged or done without consideration for its external impacts, aquaculture also has the potential to damage the environment and to contribute to the collapse of global fisheries. The heterogeneity of aquaculture systems, in size, location, and contribution to the local economy, makes it difficult to characterize the industry as "good" or "bad." Each type of aquaculture has legitimate benefits as well as serious costs, and because aquaculture products are traded on an international market, there is a global responsibility to promote sustainable aquaculture.
An Introduction to Aquaculture introduces students to the myriad aquaculture techniques in use today, and gives students the requisite tools to think critically about the sustainability of these techniques over time.
Lesson One introduces students to the concept of aquaculture through an overview of the various types of aquaculture systems and diverse cultivation techniques. Students learn the potential benefits and problems of each aquaculture system. They examine various images of aquaculture systems and work in small groups to give presentations on each type of system. They also begin to explore issues in the controversy surrounding aquaculture.
Lesson Two explores the effects of aquaculture on the natural environment. Students learn about the impact of each type of aquaculture on coastal and ocean ecosystems. Using information gathered from this lesson and Lesson One, students debate the positive and negative attributes of aquaculture systems. Working in small groups, students write a proposal for an aquaculture project of their choice. The proposal project is designed to encourage students to debate the various forms of aquaculture and the costs and benefits associated with each system. Settling on one system, each group of students outlines a comprehensive proposal to present to the class. Students then act as members of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Board and evaluate their classmates' proposals.
Lesson Three introduces students to the issue of sustainability as it pertains to aquaculture. Students learn why some types of aquaculture are sustainable in the long run and how to mitigate the problems threatening the future sustainability of other systems. They then have a structured viewing of a video lecture about sustainable aquaculture from Dr. Rosamond Naylor, a prominent scholar in the field. The lecture focuses on the intersection between economic, biophysical, and social sustainability in fish production, and the external impacts of the aquaculture industry over time. In special focus groups, students identify important topics from the lecture and think about how they apply to the concepts of the previous lessons. The lesson concludes with a forum discussion on each of the group's findings and the steps needed to ensure that all aquaculture systems are on a sustainable track.
Each of the three lessons in this curriculum guide has specific learning objectives. The following are larger goals for the unit as a whole.
- gain a broad understanding of the aquaculture industry and its diversity;
- learn the potential benefits and problems of aquaculture;
- understand how aquaculture affects the environment;
- learn the principles of sustainability; and
- use interdisciplinary thinking to understand the necessary balance between human activities and the environment over time.