Aquaculture is one of the oldest animal production industries yet the development of intensive aquaculture is a very recent phenomenon which has only really taken off since the early 1980’s. Since then, aquaculture has been the fasting growing animal production industry in the world. With an average annual growth of around 10% the global aquaculture industry is now larger than the beef industry and in 2012 even exceeded the size of capture fisheries (i.e. wild caught aquatic products) with global production peaking in the 1990s.
Aquaculture employs millions of people around the world and is an extremely important source of protein, especially in less developed countries. Since fish are poikilotherms and do not have to expend any energy in keeping their bodies at a certain temperature, unlike mammals, fish are able to convert food into edible mass much more efficiently than other domesticated livestock.
Most of the growth has occurred in Asia, and Mainland China now accounts for over 60% of global production. With such rapid growth and advancement sustainability has become a real challenge for the industry and there are many example of fish farms polluting waterways with uneaten fish food or using too many antibiotics to tackle diseases which are frequently caused by poor animal husbandry. In fact, aquaculture can be the most sustainable animal production method if given the right assistance.
Being geographically located in the middle of the global aquaculture industry presents Hong Kong with a unique opportunity to tap into this industry and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences has placed aquatic animal health as one of its core subjects for its BVM course. Students will have ample exposure and training in aquatic animal health so that the next generation of veterinarians can aid farmers in disease diagnosis and suggest appropriate treatment regimes. CityU will also introduce a MSc in Aquatic Production and Veterinary Health in collaboration with the University of Stirling in Scotland in 2017 to provide advanced training for those interested in furthering their knowledge about aquatic species.