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Reducing aquaculture’s impact on the aquatic environment is widely recognized as a desirable goal by seafood
producers, retailers, and consumers, as well as by researchers and government stewards of resources. A growing
segment of seafood consumers is helping to drive this trend by demanding that the seafood they purchase meets certain
sustainability criteria. Their concerns relate to production practices that reduce aquaculture’s environmental footprint.
• Discharge of waste and pathogens into the environment
• Use of feed ingredients from stressed fishery stocks
• Use of antibiotics or artificial coloring agents in production
• Efficient use of diminishing water resources
• Escape of cultured stock into wild populations
• Locally raised product
• “Farm-to-fork” traceability
Satisfying most of these criteria inevitably requires shifting from traditional flow-through systems to closed systems.
Adoption of closed systems, however, continues to proceed very slowly. There are two broad reasons for this:
• It presently is more profitable for producers to “externalize” the costs and expenses of water treatment by
discharging waste directly into the environment.
• Greater technical expertise is required to manage closed systems. When water quality problems cannot be flushed
away, they must be treated within stocked production units, and doing this successfully requires careful attention to
water quality management.
Lowering the first hurdle involves market forces -- led by consumers’ seafood purchasing preferences -- and enforcement
of environmental legislation at local, federal, and regional levels. Regarding market forces, organizations that rate the
sustainability of capture fisheries, such as the Marine Stewardship Council and the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood
Watch program, help consumers make educated choices. This same initiative increasingly is applied to aquaculture
At the legislative level, strict regulations on the volume and composition of waste discharge that have been advanced
in some countries -- notably Denmark -- increasingly force producers to assume responsibility for water treatment,
thus “internalizing” these costs and expenses.
The second hurdle – enhancing the technical skills needed to construct and manage these systems – is lowered by
disseminating up-to-date information on closed system design and operation, as well as by hands-on training.
The present manual was motivated largely by this last point, as the biofloc-dominated (BFD) system developed by Dr.
Tzachi Samocha and co-workers at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Mariculture Laboratory (ARML) at Flour Bluff,
Corpus Christi, Texas, USA over the past 16 years has reached a point at which it is ready for wider dissemination.
It is, in fact, already being implemented, in whole or in part, on a commercial scale by Florida Organic Aquaculture
(Fellsmere, FL, US), American Mariculture (St. James City, FL), Bowers Shrimp, Palacios, Texas, a large number of
small production operations throughout the US, and an increasing number of shrimp farmers in South Korea.