APBI 319 (3 cr): Aquaculture & the Environment

Available Course Sections

Sections available for 2017W

APBI 319 99C Jan 03, 2018 Apr 06, 2018 ACKERMAN, PAIGE ADRIENNE
 *Please note that the course end date does not include the examination period

Course Outline

Aquaculture means different things to different people and there are a number of issues that surround culture of aquatic animals. Currently, salmon farming is by far the most controversial form of aquaculture and the media is filled with the issues. Ironically, trout culture is rarely mentioned and shellfish culture is seen as a small cottage industry of no particular hazard. The issues are interesting in that they usually do not go away even when prominent scientists become involved. Because of this, the concept of independent science has been severely challenged in the public view. Public opinion of political forces and their roles in the issues is rarely high (although studies show that Canadians have more trust than many nationalities) when environmental issues are on the table.

Course Description

This web-based course is designed to introduce some of the interactions that take place between aquaculture and the environment by providing students with relevant principles, concepts, and tools. Students will explore current issues in aquaculture and investigate their implications. Students will also explore and compare systems, species, production methods and environments, as well as ecological and sociological aspects of aquaculture.


The course is delivered online and students are expected to work at their own pace to meet the due dates for each Module assignment and discussion.


Dr. Paige Ackerman
Regional Enhancement Biologist
Salmonid Enhancement Program
Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Course Goals

The main goals are for students to be able to:

  • Recognize many of the interactions that take place between aquaculture and the environment by examining principles and concepts relevant to the ecology of aquaculture.
  • Better understand the role of aquaculture in our society and economy with a contextual perspective of the importance of aquaculture in relation to fisheries and agriculture.
  • Evaluate evidence for and against issues related to aquacultural practices.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of the course, students should:

  • Be able to describe the components and processes of aquaculture systems that interact with the environment;
  • Appreciate the complexity that exists between those components and processes as a system, at different levels of organization (e.g. cellular, organismal, farm, regional, global);
  • Synthesize the previous objectives so as to evaluate the interdependence of aquaculture and the biophysical and socioeconomic environments, as well as how different aquaculture systems and production methods can affect that interdependence.

Course Content

The course is structured into five main modules:

Module 1: Aquaculture basics

This is an introduction to aquaculture. This module defines what aquaculture is and presents a historical perspective. It examines the concept of aquaculture production systems, methods, and their characteristics; explores some relationship between aquaculture, fisheries and agriculture; and will identify some of the major cultured organisms worldwide through the use of available online resources.

Module 2: Ecology of aquaculture

This module introduces some of the potential impacts that aquaculture may have on the environment. The module introduces the ecological perspective of an aquaculture system and explains the natural resources and processes on which aquaculture depends, as well as the sources and type of interactions that occur as a result of aquacultural production.

Module 3: Current issues in aquaculture

This module is an introduction to several of the contentious issues inherent in the various incarnations of aquaculture. The material does not make any attempt to place excessive emphasis on one side of an argument or another, simply to present the various positions. It is the student’s responsibility to approach this material with an open mind and to assess the available resources critically and honestly. The information will change with time and with research effort and it is the student’s responsibility to move forward (even long after this course is completed) and use critical thinking skills to assess the information presented by both respected researchers and media.

Module 4: Biological interactions between aquaculture and the environment

Intensive aquaculture relies on various inputs and results in numerous outputs. This module examines management of some of the common interactions between aquaculture activities and the environment that aquatic organisms are reared in.

Module 5: Aquaculture and sustainability

This last module synthesizes the various issues related to the interactions between aquaculture and the environment and introduces a perspective about the main aspects related to the sustainability of aquaculture.

Additional Resources

No textbook is required for this course. To enrich the learning process, the course will rely on the following aids:

  • Relevant websites and online tools: aquaculture; ecology and environmental issues; FAO. FishStat and FishBase are online tools with relevant statistical, biological, and ecological information and will be used to complete assignments in Modules 1 and 2.
  • Discussion: Using the online Discussion Boards within the course modules;
  • Study/Review questions: to emphasize important principles and concepts. They are intended to aid independent thinking and to reinforce concepts and material studied.
  • Hyperlinks: external and internal. These will lead you to relevant sites and documents.
  • Visual information: Graphics, photos, and video clips. Given the breadth of the subject, the visual information presented here will provide you with a global view of the variety of aquacultural systems and farming environments.
  • Relevant literature available online or provided within the course site.


While students can work through the material at their own pace, students are expected to participate in discussions for each module by the due date for the assignment in each module where posting requirements are noted throughout the course material. This will be reflected in the final mark as a component of each Module assignment and worth a total of 10% of the total course mark. Students are encouraged to use the discussion boards for other issues that are raised as they progress and to share thoughts and ideas as they proceed.


The evaluation of the course emphasizes the comprehension of the concepts, critical and non-biased thinking, and independent research. All assignments are to be completed and submitted individually via upload to the course Connect site. Five assignments and a Discussion Forum are included in the course assessment. The final grade for this course will be based on Module assignments (with the percent for each):

Module #1: Aquaculture Basics – assignment 10%
Module #2: Ecology of Aquaculture – assignment 10%
Module #3: Current Issues in Aquaculture – assignment 20%
Module #4: Management of Interactions – assignment 10%
Module #5: Aquaculture Sustainability – final project 40%
Discussion participation 10%


Technical Requirements for Courses

This is an online course. Click here for more information on technical requirements.


The course outline is subject to change. The official outline for this course can be found in the course materials.