Aquaculture is the cultivation of water-based animals and plants for commercial purposes. It is used to produce a significant proportion of the fresh and saltwater organisms sold around the world. This industry is divided into many categories, but some of the most common aquaculture jobs include farming fish, shellfish, shrimp, pearls, and seaweed.
Fish farming is one of the most prevalent aquaculture jobs. Farmed fish are usually bred and kept in pens built within an ocean or lake, in ponds, or in tanks. Once mature they are harvested and sold, most often for human consumption, but also sometimes as pets. Some of the most frequently farmed fish are carp, tilapia, salmon, and catfish.
Farming shellfish, especially oysters, is another common aquaculture job. Oysters thrive in water that is less saline than the open ocean. Thus they are often farmed in cages, baskets, or bags submerged at a place where the ocean is met by a source of fresh water. They may also be cultivated in tanks, allowing the farmer to precisely control the saltiness, temperature, and mineral content of the water to provide for maximum growth.
Shrimp farming is also among the most popular aquaculture jobs and accounts for a large proportion of the world’s commercial shrimp. Farmed shrimp are usually bred in an environment called a hatchery, where they remain until they have passed through the larval stage. Next they are moved to a nursery, and finally to a grow-out pond, where they are allowed to reach a salable size. At all stages, the shrimp are fed and monitored for disease by the farmer.
Some aquaculture jobs revolve around the production of aquatic plants or non-edible items. Certain farmers cultivate organisms such as seaweed and algae, for instance. As with many farmed aquatic animals, these organisms are often grown in highly controlled ponds. Farmed aquatic plants have many commercial uses. Seaweed, for instance, may be used in Asian cooking, while algae can be used in the production of dyes, fertilizers, and plastics.
Another type of aquaculture job is pearl farming. This involves the insertion of donor tissue into a mollusk, which causes the mollusk to produce a pearl. Advancements in this field over time have allowed humans to improve upon nature’s technique and produce pearls that are practically flawless in shape and color. Once harvested, the pearls are usually sold to the jewelry industry. As of 2010, farmed pearls constitute as much as 99% of all commercial pearls.