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 1980s. Since then, aquaculture has been the fastest 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. With such rapid growth and intensification, sustainability has become a real challenge for the industry.
Aquaculture in Asia and Mainland China now accounts for over 60% of global production. It employs millions of people and provides an 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.
Being geographically located in the centre of the Asian aquaculture industry presents the Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences at City University of Hong Kong with a unique opportunity to assist this industry with its fish health needs. As such, we have identified aquatic animal health as one of the subject areas for our veterinary programme. Students will have ample exposure and training in aquatic animal health so that the next generation of veterinarians can aid farmers in aquatic animal disease diagnosis as well as treatment and control of infectious and non-infectious conditions affecting aquaculture species. City University of Hong Kong is also introducing an MSc in Aquatic Production and Veterinary Health in collaboration with the University of Stirling in Scotland in 2018 to provide advanced training for those interested in furthering their knowledge about aquatic species.