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Asian aquaculture growth is being driven by a rising demand for fish. The Asia/Pacific region is by far the largest producer of farmed fish and the largest market for aquaculture supplies and equipment. Rising fish demand has supported the use of increasingly intensive aquaculture practices, requiring higher investment in aquaculture inputs. Increasing stocking densities and greater reliance on recirculating aquaculture systems will promote demand for more expensive equipment and chemicals to keep water quality high and disease risks low. Greater demand for sustainably raised fish in export markets will promote sales of water treatment chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and other products. These and other trends are presented in Global Aquaculture: Feed, Equipment, & Chemicals, a new study from The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry research firm.

The aquaculture sector of the Asia/Pacific region is extremely diversified in terms of species, technologies, and farming systems employed. Going forward, catfish and tilapia are expected to be the fastest growing finfish types, as both have relatively low associated production costs and can sell for higher prices than carp in international trade.

Total global demand for aquaculture supplies and equipment is projected to rise 6.5% annually to $69.4 billion in 2022. Gains will outpace those in aquaculture production as efforts to intensify fish farm production will lead to increased spending on aquaculture inputs.

Rising Global Demand for Fish Presents Challenges for Sustainable Aquaculture

Improving living standards around the globe and rising awareness of the benefits of fish as part of a healthy diet are contributing to increasing demand for fish and fish products, particularly in developing regions. This, coupled with stagnating growth from global capture fisheries, has generated more pressure on the world aquaculture industry to increase production. Fierce competition for feed resources and the limited availability of suitable land and water have forced the aquaculture industry to seek solutions that will intensify production sustainably.

Recirculating Aquaculture Systems & Other Sophisticated Supplies Will Be Key to Production

Recirculating aquaculture systems; meters, feeders, and other equipment that reduces labor costs; and improved feed and other inputs will all be required to meet global demand for fish. These products allow fish farms to reduce labor costs, accelerate fish growth rates, and increase stocking densities, all of which will promote greater production levels without requiring substantially more land or water while also reducing the potential for environmental harm.

Higher Stocking Densities Will Increase Risks of ISAV, White Spot Syndrome, & Other Diseases

Increased numbers of fish in an aquaculture system will raise the risk of outbreaks of costly diseases such as infectious salmon anemia virus and white spot syndrome, as well as sea lice and other health hazards that have challenged aquaculture production over the past decade. Innovations in water quality management – including the use of specialty treatment chemicals, disinfection equipment, and circulation systems – and improvements to immunity supplements, aquafeed formulations, and pharmaceuticals will all be crucial to reduce the risk of outbreaks of these diseases.

Innovations in Aquafeed to Address Fish Meal & Fish Oil Shortages & Price Volatility

Supplies of fish meal and fish oil for use in aquafeeds have been threatened by rising demand for these products in other applications and by declining global capture fishery production of anchovies and other fish used in fish meal and fish oil. At the same time, rising demand for shrimp, salmon, and other carnivorous fish has increased the need for these products. Improved aquafeeds with innovative blends of plant proteins such as soy, land animal protein, and other ingredients will be key to keep feed conversion ratios low, maintain healthy fish growth rates, and reduce the incidence of disease.