Seafood are basically food that is originated from marine organisms for instance seaweed, fish such as tuna, mackerel and groupers. Seafood has both its advantages and disadvantages of being consumed. This is because it is known to overcome health problems as well as causes health related problems. Seafood, generally improves overall health of anyone who consumes them. Apart from being an important source of protein, seafood provides minerals such as Vitamins A and D. Omega 3 fatty acids from seafood, especially fish has been linked to improve intelligence level and helps to reduce cholesterol level in the human body.
Therefore, understanding the various importances of seafood, Research and Development (R&D) pertaining to this source of food is very crucial to increase the production of seafood so that it does not deplete in the near future. It is believed that in approximately 50 years, if no conservation effort is taken, there would not be anymore seafood to be consumed by human. R&D is also vital to promote the health benefits provided by seafood in order to overcome the various health problems faced by mankind. In a nutshell, research and development carried out on seafood will sooner or later benefit the economy of the country and the welfare of the society.
In the production of seafood, supply chain is a very important term. Supply chain encompasses the production of fish or shellfish by capture fisheries or aquaculture, through Processing, Storing, Transporting, Marketing and Selling
to the point at which seafood is consumed. In this matter, cooperation between seafood based industry and R & D institutions becomes vitally important in the operation of entire supply chain as there is a great deal of science & knowledge as well as the art of doing business in seafood. Unfortunately, such cooperation is not very encouraging because the agencies are too busy with their own business. At times, there is not much cooperation within the industry itself and producers of different industries tend to act individually despite facing same challenges such as disease and low production efficiency.
In contrast to this, cooperation between academia and industries was believed to augur well for transforming the traditional seafood industry that essentially deals with harvesting seafood from the sea or growing it in farms to a modern enterprise that is knowledge-based, service-oriented & technology-intensive. This approach has the possibility to prevent spoilage of seafood, enhances its keeping quality, increases the value of seafood, diversifies products on par with market trends and maximizes the use of harvest.
The introduction of biotechnology in seafood is part of R&D and it can be applied to seafood at two different levels which is the production stage and during the post-harvest stage. The application of biotechnology in fisheries can be used in managing genetic resources to safeguard wild stocks. This involves use of markers in identification of management units and endangered species to assist in fishery management. On the other hand, in aquaculture, biotechnology application is used during captive breeding, artificial feed formulation, bioencapsulation of live prey, water quality remediation, organic substitutes of antibiotics and cryopreservation.
Biotechnology in aquaculture is mainly focused on genetic level to stimulate growth of aquaculture organisms and to impart disease resistance onto them and eventually enhancing their tolerance level to the environment. This is achieved by using several methods such as selective breeding, hybridization, chromosome-set manipulation and genetic engineering. Health management of aquaculture organisms are monitored by using DNA based technologies to characterize different species & strains of pathogens. Once pathogen is characterized, DNA probes can be developed to screen for specific pathogens in whole animal or tissues, water & sediment.
During the post harvest, or processing stage, biotechnology is applied through bioprocessing where living organisms or their cellular components are used to carry out necessary chemical, physical and biological processes onto produced product. The use of biotechnology in seafood industries will be beneficial if industries are willing to cooperate with universities to carry out further research onto available technologies. This in return will help universities to commercialize their R&D and further fine tune the technologies to improve production of seafood. In short, application of R & D when done under collaboration of so many determined agencies will modernize the seafood production sector.
In the near future, R & D directions for development of the seafood sector should include sustainable production from capture fisheries. This should include the enforcement of minimum size at capture and the enforcement of law towards destructive fishing methods. The introduction of sea ranching must be look into in order to replenish the depleted populations of high-value target species such as groupers, wrasses, snapper, tiger shrimp, giant clam and sea cucumbers. R&D must also be focused on sustainable production from culture fisheries. This can be done by using new technologies and biosecurity methods as well as introducing organic perspectives in aquaculture to get premium price and to penetrate niche market for such products.
Next, R&D must also consider sustainable production of seaweed through sea farming by discovering methods to increase production by controlling diseases and limiting the grazing by marine animals. Finally R&D should be able to find ways to diversify production of seafood and at the same time try to improve the quality of product which is produced from this sector.