Ecology is the scientific study of how organisms interact with each other and with their environment. This includes relationships between individuals of the same species, between different species, and between organisms and their physical and chemical environments. Aquatic ecology includes the study of these relationships in all aquatic environments, including oceans, estuaries, lakes, ponds, wetlands, rivers, and streams. The boundaries of an aquatic ecosystem are somewhat arbitrary, but generally enclose a system in which inflows and outflows can be estimated. Ecosystem ecologists study how nutrients, energy, and water flow through an ecosystem.
Aquaculture is currently playing, and will continue to play, a big part in boosting global fish production and in meeting rising demand for fishery products. Aquaculture is projected to be the prime source of seafood as demand grows from the global middle class and wild capture fisheries approach their maximum take. Sustainable aquaculture is a dynamic concept and the sustainability of an aquaculture system will vary with species, location, societal norms and the state of knowledge and technology.
Aquaponics refers to any system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In normal aquaculture, excretions from the animals being raised can accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity. In an aquaponic system, water from an aquaculture system is fed to a hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down by nitrifying bacteria initially into nitrites and subsequently into nitrates, which are utilized by the plants as nutrients, and the water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system.
Aquaculture is the fastest growing sector of animal protein production and now accounts for 47-50 percent of the world's aquatic animal food supply. Aquaculture production helps to reduce pressure on wild fisheries caused by overfishing. Diseases have emerged as a significant problem due to the high stocking densities used in intensive aquaculture. These diseases may devastate the farmed aquatic animals and spread to wild populations.
Aquaculture Nutrition provides a global perspective on the nutrition of all cultivated aquatic animals. Fish are consumed as food by many species, including humans. It has been an important source of protein and other nutrients for humans throughout recorded history. Health experts have long touted the nutritional benefits of fish: These sea creatures rank high on lists of the best sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality protein, metabolism-friendly selenium, energy-boosting Vitamin B12, and inflammation-fighting Vitamin D. Omega-3s are essential nutrients that help ward off heart disease, diabetes, and metabolism-slowing inflammation, and they’re primarily found in fish.
Genetic analyses have much to offer fisheries managers, especially in the provision of tools enabling unequivocal specimen identification and assessment of stock structure. Biotechnology provides powerful tools for the sustainable development of aquaculture, fisheries, as well as the food industry. Increased public demand for seafood and decreasing natural marine habitats have encouraged scientists to study ways that biotechnology can increase the production of marine food products, and making aquaculture as a growing field of animal research. Biotechnology allows scientists to identify and combine traits in fish and shellfish to increase productivity and improve quality. Scientists are investigating genes that will increase production of natural fish growth factors as well as the natural defense compounds marine organisms use to fight microbial infections.
Monitoring and management of aquatic animal health is important in many situations including the aquaculture industry, in ornamental species and also for wild populations of fish and shellfish. Health management is a critical issue in the aquaculture industry, as an intensive culture of animals and plants (both on land and in the water) can increase the likelihood of disease. A disease outbreak can devastate farmed populations and severely impact the short-term profitability and even long-term viability of aquaculture businesses. Those who keep ornamental fish and invertebrates for a hobby also frequently confront disease issues, and need to be scrupulous in managing the health of their animals and preventing any diseases that do occur from spreading to other aquaria or even the wild through the transfer of sick animals or contaminated water and materials. Outbreaks of the disease also occur in the wild, where they can cause unsightly and unhealthy fish kills or even endanger populations of certain native species. In all cases, a quick response is essential to enable correct diagnosis of the problem and to allow for appropriate measures to be taken, whether this be quarantine, treatment and/or euthanasia of the affected population.
The primary goal of Fisheries conservation is to restore fish populations that have been eliminated because of pollution or habitat destruction. Fisheries management draws on fisheries science in order to find ways to protect fishery resources so sustainable exploitation is possible. Modern fisheries management is often referred to as a governmental system of appropriate management rules based on defined objectives and a mix of management means to implement the rules, which are put in place by a system of monitoring control and surveillance.
Marine biology is the scientific study of organisms in the sea. Marine biology classifies species based on the environment rather than on taxonomy. Many species are economically important to humans, including both finfish and shellfish. It is also becoming understood that the well-being of marine organisms and other organisms are linked in fundamental ways. The human body of knowledge regarding the relationship between life in the sea and important cycles is rapidly growing, with new discoveries being made nearly every day.
Marine life is a vast resource, providing food, medicine, and raw materials, in addition to helping to support recreation and tourism all over the world. Marine life helps determine the very nature of our planet. Marine organisms contribute significantly to the oxygen cycle, and are involved in the regulation of the Earth's climate. Shorelines are in part shaped and protected by marine life, and some marine organisms even help create new land.
Coral reefs are diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by corals. Coral reefs are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine water that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps belong to a group of animals known as Cnidaria, which also includes sea anemones and jellyfish. Coral reefs deliver ecosystem services to tourism, fisheries and shoreline protection. The annual global economic value of coral reefs is estimated between US$30–375 billion.
Freshwater biology is the scientific biological study of freshwater ecosystems and is a branch of limnology. This field seeks to understand the relationships between living organisms in their physical environment. These physical environments may include rivers, lakes, streams, or wetlands. This discipline is also widely used in industrial processes to make use of biological processes such as sewage treatment and water purification. Water flow is an essential aspect to species distribution and influence when and where species interact in freshwater environments.