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Aquaculture vs. Fisheries: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 5, 2023
Aquaculture is the cultivation of aquatic organisms in controlled environments, while fisheries involve catching wild fish and other seafood.

Key Differences

Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, involves the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants in controlled environments. Fisheries, on the other hand, refer to the activity of catching or harvesting fish and other aquatic species from natural habitats like oceans, rivers, and lakes.
In aquaculture, environmental conditions such as water quality, light, and nutrition are managed to promote the growth of aquatic organisms. Conversely, fisheries depend on the natural environment and the availability of wild fish populations.
Aquaculture offers a sustainable solution to meet the growing demand for seafood, reducing pressure on wild fish populations. Fisheries, while providing a significant portion of the world's seafood, face challenges like overfishing and environmental impact.
Aquaculture can include a wide range of species, from fish and crustaceans to seaweed, often using methods like ponds, cages, or recirculating systems. Fisheries involve different fishing methods, such as trawling, long-lining, or netting, targeting specific species in their natural habitats.
Both aquaculture and fisheries play vital roles in the global economy, providing livelihoods, nutrition, and food security. Aquaculture is rapidly growing, offering opportunities for technological innovation, while fisheries remain critical for many coastal communities.

Comparison Chart


Controlled environments like ponds or tanks
Natural habitats like oceans, rivers, and lakes


Can be more sustainable, less impact on wild populations
Faces challenges like overfishing


Breeding and rearing in captivity
Catching or harvesting wild fish and seafood

Species Range

Wide range, including fish, shellfish, seaweed
Depends on natural availability of species

Economic Impact

Growing industry, technological advancement
Traditional, vital for many coastal communities

Aquaculture and Fisheries Definitions


The cultivation of aquatic organisms in controlled environments.
Aquaculture is essential for sustainable shrimp farming.


Harvesting fish from their natural habitats.
Sustainable practices are critical in modern fisheries.


Breeding and rearing of fish and shellfish under controlled conditions.
Salmon aquaculture has become increasingly sophisticated.


Catching aquatic life from oceans, rivers, and lakes.
Fisheries contribute to food security in many countries.


A rapidly evolving sector focused on aquatic species.
Aquaculture technology is advancing rapidly to meet global demands.


The activity of catching wild fish and other seafood.
Fisheries are vital for the economy of many coastal regions.


A method of producing seafood sustainably.
Aquaculture contributes significantly to global seafood supply.


A traditional industry focused on fishing.
The fisheries sector employs millions globally.


Agriculture involving aquatic species like fish and plants.
Seaweed aquaculture is gaining popularity.


Management of natural fish populations and habitats.
Effective fisheries management is key to preventing overfishing.


The cultivation of marine or freshwater organisms, especially food fish or shellfish such as salmon or oysters, under controlled conditions. Also called aquafarming.


The industry or occupation devoted to the catching, processing, or selling of fish, shellfish, or other aquatic animals.


The cultivation of aquatic produce such as aquatic plants, fish, and other aquatic animals.


A place where fish or other aquatic animals are caught.


The cultivation of aquatic animals, such as fish or shellfish, or of plants, such as seaweed, in a controlled and sometimes enclosed body of water. The term includes use of either salt or fresh water. It is a form of agriculture, but under water.


A fishing business.


Rearing aquatic animals or cultivating aquatic plants for food


A hatchery for fish.


The legal right to fish in specified waters or areas.


Plural of fishery


What do fisheries primarily do?

Fisheries primarily involve catching wild fish and seafood.

Are fisheries only in oceans?

No, fisheries can be in oceans, rivers, lakes, and other natural water bodies.

Can aquaculture be done in freshwater?

Yes, aquaculture can be practiced in both freshwater and marine environments.

What is the main focus of aquaculture?

Aquaculture focuses on cultivating aquatic organisms in controlled settings.

What types of fishing methods are used in fisheries?

Methods include trawling, netting, and long-lining.

What kinds of species are farmed in aquaculture?

Species include fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants like seaweed.

Is aquaculture sustainable?

Aquaculture can be sustainable, especially when best practices are followed.

What are the benefits of aquaculture?

Benefits include sustainable seafood supply and reduced pressure on wild stocks.

Can fisheries be sustainable?

Yes, with proper management and practices, fisheries can be sustainable.

Are there international standards for aquaculture?

There are international guidelines and best practices for sustainable aquaculture.

How do fisheries impact the environment?

Fisheries can impact the environment through practices like overfishing.

Are there regulations governing fisheries?

Yes, fisheries are regulated to ensure sustainable practices.

Can aquaculture help in conservation?

Aquaculture can aid conservation by reducing wild catch demands.

What are the challenges in aquaculture?

Challenges include disease management, environmental impacts, and sustainability.

How does climate change affect fisheries?

Climate change affects fish populations and habitats, impacting fisheries.

How is aquaculture different from traditional fishing?

Aquaculture is about farming in controlled conditions, unlike wild catch fishing.

Is overfishing a concern for fisheries?

Yes, overfishing is a major concern in fisheries management.

Do fisheries contribute to local economies?

Yes, fisheries are crucial for the livelihoods of many coastal communities.

What role do fisheries play in global food security?

Fisheries play a significant role in providing a source of protein worldwide.

Are aquaculture facilities always artificial?

They can be artificial or semi-natural, like ponds or enclosed coastal areas.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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