Journal: Journal of Animal Science, vol. 95, p. 1801–1812, 2017
International Standard Numbers:
Open Access: none
Aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector and it contributes significantly to global food security. Based on Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, aquaculture production must increase significantly to meet the future global demand for aquatic foods in 2050. According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and FAO, climate change may result in global warming, sea level rise, changes of ocean productivity, freshwater shortage, and more frequent extreme climate events. Consequently, climate change may affect aquaculture to various extents depending on climatic zones, geographical areas, rearing systems, and species farmed. There are 2 major challenges for aquaculture caused by climate change. First, the current fish, adapted to the prevailing environmental conditions, may be suboptimal under future conditions. Fish species are often poikilothermic and, therefore, may be particularly vulnerable to temperature changes. This will make low sensitivity to temperature more important for fish than for livestock and other terrestrial species. Second, climate change may facilitate outbreaks of existing and new pathogens or parasites. To cope with the challenges above, 3 major adaptive strategies are identified. First, general ‘robustness’ will become a key trait in aquaculture, whereby fish will be less vulnerable to current and new diseases while at the same time thriving in a wider range of temperatures. Second, aquaculture activities, such as input power, transport, and feed production contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Selection for feed efficiency as well as defining a breeding goal that minimizes greenhouse gas emissions will reduce impacts of aquaculture on climate change. Finally, the limited adoption of breeding programs in aquaculture is a major concern. This implies inefficient use of resources for feed, water, and land. Consequently, the carbon footprint per kg fish produced is greater than when fish from breeding programs would be more heavily used. Aquaculture should use genetically improved and robust organisms not suffering from inbreeding depression. This will require using fish from well-managed selective breeding programs with proper inbreeding control and breeding goals. Policymakers and breeding organizations should provide incentives to boost selective breeding programs in aquaculture for more robust fish tolerating climatic change.