Historic background


Definition of the word “Aquaculture” by the FAO:

Rearing of aquatic organisms (fish, molluscs, crustaceans, aquatic plants etc.) with the following two conditions :

  • Human intervention in the process of increasing production: regular management, feeding, protection, etc.
  • The stock being reared is someone’s legal property

Although the first condition is easy to understand, the idea of property is more complex. A fish farmer rearing trout will have bought the eggs or fry. This stock was therefore obtained by a financial transaction. The same is the case for a shellfish farmer who buys spat and puts it to grow on a leased area for which he or she pays rent. The situation is less clear when young salmon are released that will perhaps return in several years to breed. Who do they belong to? Are they the property of the producers who originally released them, or of the fishermen? The FAO made a decision for this case : these fish were aquacultural products, but became fishery products.


2000 B.C.

Rudimentary fish farming

Carp in China
Tilapia in Egypt

600 B.C.

Oysters placed in on-bottom growing areas (parcs)


15th century A.D.

(fish captured as they moved up into brackish water and maintained in an enclosure)


18th century

Discovery of artificial fertilisation
Application to salmonids

19th century

Transplantation of salmonids
Development of oyster farming



Eel farming



Massive increase in rainbow trout farming

North America


Sea ranching
Aquaculture of seriola, catfish and scallops


“New aquaculture” with production of salmon, shrimp, seabass and seabream


Emergence of turbot, sturgeon and tropical species like grouper, barramundi and umbrine


Tuna capture and on-growing

Ifremer / Yves Harache