The History of Aquaculture

The history of Aquaculture is grainy as most ancient beginnings are. Archaeologists think that the indigenous Gunditjmara people of Australia may have dug channels to cultivate eels roughly 8000 years ago. Images carved on tomb walls in Egypt show Egyptians storing what is thought to be Tilapia in ponds – dating back 4,000 years, around the same time, it is thought the Chinese were beginning to cultivate Carp in semi-closed systems.

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A Chinese states man Fan Li is the first reliable record of deliberate scale aquaculture, some 2,500 years ago. Soon the Romans were to adopt aquaculture (100-200 AD), building coastal ponds and cages to grow fish for food. Carp and trout became a staple food stuff around Europe, introduced by the Romans and adopted by the monasteries of eastern Europe; many of these countries still consider Carp a royal fish and a food for celebrations (Christmas period especially – in Poland Carp production is geared to peak in the winter months).

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Seaweed was first used 14,000 years ago in Chile for its assumed healing properties, later in history the cultivation of seaweed began to flourish.  Japan – a market leader in seaweed production began cultivation of Nori around 1600 AD but the value of seaweed was not missed by others around the world. Kelp was burnt to produce soda and potash (used for soaps, glass production and other industrial processes) in the 1700s on the Orkney Islands, the inhabitants soon became reliant on the money that their soda and potash industry brought it, resulting in much poverty and rioting as the industry declined with the discovery of mineral deposits in Germany.

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Aquaculture has become part of many traditional cultures and contributed nutritionally and economically to the success of society. The place for Aquaculture in society is different now; as the population grows and food supplies are stretched there is pressure to fill this worrying demand. This has led to the Blue revolution, this has been seen by many as mainly unsustainable and now the Turquoise revolution is here – Making the Blue Revolution Green. Many aquatic species are threatened by overfishing and climate change, there are many solutions but a high volume and potentially low impact solution will lead to a truly Sustainable Aquaculture industry.

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2 thoughts on “The History of Aquaculture

  1. Malcolm McColl on Reply

    The First Nations (Indigenous people of North America) on the west coast of Canada used to drum the salmon runs up rivers, pounding rocks to lead the fish to higher spawning grounds. They constructed weirs on large rivers to capture salmon and sturgeon, harvesting fish and fish eggs. These nations had an intimate association with 5 species of salmon, plus steelhead trout, and the depth of their husbandry can hardly be questioned, even if there is difficulty assigning specific details. Beau Dick (RIP), famous Indigenous hereditary chief, Homatsa chief, Master Carver, and autodidactic historian of his people, describes his ancestors seeding the Kingcome Inlet with eulachon, a fish originating around Bella Coola, transplanting to his ancestor’s home territory. These are ancient aquaculture events that First Nations performed.

    1. admin on Reply

      Fascinating insights, thank you for sharing! We will be sure to mention this in a tweet and on our facebook to let everyone share in this new knowledge. Thank you!

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