- Aquatic systems provide a source of food production.
- Unsustainable use of aquatic ecosystems can lead to environmental degradation and collapse of wild fisheries.
- Aquaculture provides potential for increased food production.
Knowledge and understanding:
- Demand for aquatic food resources continues to increase as human population grows and diet changes.
- Photosynthesis by phytoplankton supports a highly diverse range of food webs.
- Aquatic (freshwater and marine) flora and fauna are harvested by humans.
- The highest rates of productivity are found near coastlines or in shallow seas, where upwellings and nutrient enrichment of surface waters occurs.
- Harvesting some species, such as seals and whales, can be controversial. Ethical issues arise over biorights, rights of indigenous cultures and international conservation legislation.
- Developments in fishing equipment and changes to fishing methods have lead to dwindling fish stocks and damage to habitats.
- Unsustainable exploitation of aquatic systems can be mitigated at a variety of levels (international, national, local and individual) through policy, legislation and changes in consumer behaviour.
- Aquaculture has grown to provide additional food resources and support economic development and is expected to continue to rise.
- Issues around aquaculture include: loss of habitats, pollution (with feed, antifouling agents, antibiotics and other medicines added to fish pens), spread of diseases and escaped species (some involving genetically modified organisms).
Applications and skills:
- Discuss, with reference to a case study, the controversial harvesting of a named
- Evaluate strategies that can be used to avoid unsustainable fishing.
- Explain the potential value of aquaculture for providing food for future generations.
- Discuss a case study that demonstrates the impact of aquaculture.
- Successful management of marine and some freshwater fisheries requires partnership between different nations.
Theory of knowledge:
- The Inuit people have an historical tradition of whaling—to what extent does our culture determine or shape our ethical judgments?
- Biodiversity and conservation (topic 3)
- Terrestrial food production systems and food choices (5.2)
- Human population carrying capacity (8.4)
- Resource use in society (8.2)
- Sustainability (1.4)