The broad term aquaculture refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of plants and animals in all types of water environments, including tanks, ponds, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Similar to agriculture, aquaculture can take place in the natural environment or in a manmade environment.
Most aquaculture operations in Michigan focus on stocking fish, aquatic plants or trout, but the potential to expand beyond – into growing fish for food – is strong.
Aquaculture has its detractors; the concerns in Michigan are focused on:
- Nutrient build-up and pollution in waters where concentrated fish populations are raised
- The escape of non-native species into local waterways
- Increase in disease outbreaks and
- The quality of the final product
However, supporters say we must weigh risks against rewards in order to get a more accurate picture of what aquaculture can be in Michigan. For example, how does raising fish via aquaculture compare with overfishing the Great Lakes?