Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the harvesting of wild fish. Broadly speaking, finfish and shellfish fisheries can be conceptualized as akin to hunting and gathering while aquaculture is akin to agriculture. Mariculture refers to aquaculture practiced in marine environments and in underwater habitats.
According to the FAO, aquaculture "is understood to mean the farming of aquatic organisms including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants. Farming implies some form of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc. Farming also implies individual or corporate ownership of the stock being cultivated." The reported output from global aquaculture operations would supply one half of the fish and shellfish that is directly consumed by humans; however, there are issues about the reliability of the reported figures. Further, in current aquaculture practice, products from several pounds of wild fish are used to produce one pound of a piscivorous fish like salmon.
Particular kinds of aquaculture include fish farming, shrimp farming, oyster farming, algaculture (such as seaweed farming), and the cultivation of ornamental fish. Particular methods include aquaponics and Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, both of which integrate fish farming and plant farming.
The indigenous Gunditjmara people in Victoria, Australia may have raised eels as early as 6000 BC. There is evidence that they developed about 100 square kilometres (39 sq mi) of volcanic floodplains in the vicinity of Lake Condah into a complex of channels and dams, that they used woven traps to capture eels, and preserve eels to eat all year round.