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How can we make farmed seafood more sustainable?

There are two types of seafood in our grocery stores: wild-caught and farm-raised. With 33% of wild-caught fisheries already overexploited and another 60% at capacity, seafood farming, or aquaculture, can help meet rising demand for nutritious protein. Globally, aquaculture—both marine and freshwater—now produces more seafood than do wild fisheries.

But some aquaculture practices are less sustainable than others. Critical habitats like mangroves are sometimes destroyed to make way for fish farms. Pollutants and farmed species can escape into surrounding waters. And unethical or illegal labor practices on farms can threaten biodiversity, wild fish stocks, and local communities. Focusing on shrimp and salmon, WWF is working to improve practices through tech innovations like forensic analysis of farmed products and traceability software. We’re also working directly with farmers to make the business case for sustainability. All of that work helps ensure that precious wildlife habitats are protected, that farms efficiently use resources, and that the seafood we eat—and the feed that helps it grow—is traceable from fish farm to fork.

20% of the fish harvested from the ocean are used to feed farmed fish

20% of the fish harvested from
the ocean are used to feed farmed fish

Pens & Cages
A simple and traditional aquaculture system uses netted pens or cages (sometimes arranged in large groupings of circular nets as suggested in the image on the right) that are placed in existing bodies of water.

A simple and traditional aquaculture system uses netted pens or cages that are placed in existing bodies of water.

20% of the fish harvested from the ocean are used to feed farmed fish

There are two types of seafood in our grocery stores: wild-caught and farm-raised. With 33% of wild-caught fisheries already overexploited and another 60% at capacity, seafood farming, or aquaculture, can help meet rising demand for nutritious protein. Globally, aquaculture—both marine and freshwater—now produces more seafood than do wild fisheries.

But some aquaculture practices are less sustainable than others. Critical habitats like mangroves are sometimes destroyed to make way for fish farms. Pollutants and farmed species can escape into surrounding waters. And unethical or illegal labor practices on farms can threaten biodiversity, wild fish stocks, and local communities. Focusing on shrimp and salmon, WWF is working to improve practices through tech innovations like forensic analysis of farmed products and traceability software. We’re also working directly with farmers to make the business case for sustainability. All of that work helps ensure that precious wildlife habitats are protected, that farms efficiently use resources, and that the seafood we eat—and the feed that helps it grow—is traceable from fish farm to fork.

20% of the fish harvested from
the ocean are used to feed farmed fish

A simple and traditional aquaculture system uses netted pens or cages that are placed in existing bodies of water.

Pens & Cages
A simple and traditional aquaculture system uses netted pens or cages (sometimes arranged in large groupings of circular nets as suggested in the image on the right) that are placed in existing bodies of water.

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World Wildlife magazine provides an inspiring, in-depth look at the connections between animals, people and our planet. Published quarterly by WWF, the magazine helps make you a part of our efforts to solve some of the most pressing issues facing the natural world.

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