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Aquaculture in South Korea

Aquaculture can reduce pressure on "wild" seafood stocks, but it can also harm the marine environment if it is not practised carefully.

Aquaculture is an important industry in Korea, as it provides much of the seafood that Korean people eat daily.

The main marine species used in aquaculture in Korea are:

  • flatfish
  • pacific oysters
  • rockfish
  • abalone
  • ascidians
  • mussels
  • scallops
  • seaweeds

Coastal Aquaculture in Korea: Photo by Yun Song-Do

The white floats mark the positions of cages and lines used to hold marine life for seafood.

 A healthy coastal environment is essential for food production, but sometimes aquaculture activities can have adverse impacts on coastal waters.

Large areas of the Korean coastline are used as aquaculture farms. Crowding of these farms is a major issue, as the farms can interfere with the natural movement of coastal waters. This reduction in natural water movement reduces the flushing effects of coastal currents and can lead to localised build up of waste products - this results in the waters eventually becoming unsuitable for aquaculture.

Waste products from the cultured animals also build up in the sediments under the farms and have been found to reduce biodiversity in these sediments. In areas where sediment- dwelling animals are important in maintaining water quality and ecosystem health, this may be a significant impact.

Another problem facing aquaculture industries is run-off of excess nutrients and other pollutants from farm lands and cities. Substances such as organo-tins (eg. TBT), pesticides and insecticides affect the survival of marine animals, including the larvae of oysters. Oyster larvae are now rarely found in the wild and all oyster larvae (known as "spat") must be collected from domestic oyster stocks.


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