Climate change is a reality that threatens food security and requires us in the aquaculture industry to adapt in numerous ways. According to the World Health Organization in 2018, “In the last 130 years, the world has warmed by approximately 0.85oC. Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer than any preceding decade since 1850. Sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting and precipitation patterns are changing. Extreme weather events are becoming more intense and frequent.”
Climate change is a direct threat to food security. Indeed, one of the most pressing challenges we face is how to feed an ever-increasing population without increasing our ecological or environmental footprint. This is where aquaculture comes in. Aquaculture has grown and consequently, how it may affect climate change is in the public spotlight . Generally public opinion now realizes that aquaculture is one of the most sustainable solutions for healthy nutrition. Yet, it is also pertinent to consider how climate change will affect the aquaculture industry.
Rainfall can also have a great impact in shrimp culture; increased rainfall will lead to a reduction in salinity, whilst a lack of rainfall may lead to increase in salinity, especially in combination with hot weather where evaporation is high. Since Vibrio spp. are affected by salt concentration, it follows that fluctuating salinity may affect their abundance, not to mention impacting shrimp ability to osmoregulate effectively.
This means that changing weather patterns may alter the expected disease season, and geographical range of pathogens and their respective pathologies may change. This unpredictability makes it even more important for producers to employ robust disease prevention strategies, for example biosecurity, SPF/ SPR animals, water management and usage of functional feeds.
First and foremost, we can all adopt immediate measures to minimize our contribution to climate change in our professional and personal life. From sustainability to carbon neutralization, awareness, education and research are the foundation for a long-term change and should always go hand in hand with our decision making and actions.
Aquaculture must ‘adapt or die’, and the challenge of climate change could force the industry to become more sustainable and efficient. Regardless of the specific climate change effect, it is universally accepted that many activities, including aquaculture, will become more unpredictable and therefore, we must consider how to increase production predictability and reduce the risk. Ultimately for the producer, this may include real time monitoring, automation, digitalization, using efficient feeds and employing prophylactic health management programs.
It will also be important to consider other factors such as genetic programs for more robust animals as well as production system (indoor vs outdoor for shrimp), site (coastal or open ocean for marine species), and perhaps even choice of species. With these factors in mind, only with a holistic approach can we work towards a productive, profitable and an environmentally conscious aquaculture sector.
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