Fish farming, also known as aquaculture, is the process of raising fish in an enclosed area for use in the fishing industry. A farm can be built on land or over naturally occurring bodies of water, such as off of an ocean shore. Within the body of water, a wide variety of fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants can be raised. Every year, such farms throughout the world produce over 65 million tons (59 million MT) of many varieties of sea life for harvesting.
It's not always necessary to build a fish farm, and a body of water such as a small pond or lake can be used instead. Many are highly technological, however, and man-made facilities are designed to control every aspect possible for raising aquatic life. The purpose of these kinds of farming structures is to decrease the possibility of many outside factors, such as contaminants and predators, while creating an environment within which the fish will thrive. Farms can also be important for maintaining endangered wild fish populations, such as salmon and trout, by growing them and then returning them to the wild.
Fish farming also gives the farmers the unique ability to create a habitat for raising one specific type of fish. This not only allows them to be able to focus on the species that is intended to be raised, but also removes the difficult process of separating out unwanted types of fish and sea life when harvesting a catch. Different types of sea creatures also need specific varieties of food to survive, and a fish farmer can cater to the needs of a specific species.
Since fish can go bad quickly because of bacteria, harvested ones must be processed quickly and in ways that have been designed over the years to keep them fresh for longer periods of time. Fish farming aids in this process because it is much simpler to transport the fish that are also more easily harvested. Many countries throughout the world use these techniques to bolster their economies. China uses aquaculture more than any other, but other countries with many farms include the United States, Japan, Chile, India, and Thailand.