Environmental Impact of Aquaculture

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

Aquaculture supplies half of the total aquatic products for human consumption on the global scale. However, aquaculture has direct and indirect impacts on its products, the environment, grocery stores supplies, and the potential impacts on human health. This course introduces the major sources of aquaculture impacts and their effects on the environment at selected points in the value chain. The course will cover a wide spectrum of environmental issues resulting from expanding global aquaculture. These will include the competition for natural resources and the impact of direct organic pollution. Current issues are reviewed, and the risks and benefits of different systems are evaluated. The course will deal in depth with the impact of intensive aquaculture on wild fish populations, including the transfer of disease and parasites (sea lice), the impact of escaped fish, and the threats and benefits of GM fish. Additional topics include habitat change, sourcing of feeds, health and welfare evaluation, introduced species, and consumer knowledge.

The aim of the course is to develop critical thinking and constructive use of sources in relation to current topics and challenges. The course content is based on lectures, uploades reading material, and presentations by active researchers and industry market. Learning activities include "Supermarket surprise" with data collection, student-led discussions and short investigations, as well as written essays based on instructions. The evaluation of scientific literature and popular media is emphasized for the ability to articulate evidence-based opinions in essays and presentations.

Learning Outcomes

The course aims to give the students an understanding of the impact of aquaculture on a global scale.

 On completion, students

  • will be able to identify and discuss the major biological impacts, including effects on surrounding biota and potential human health impacts
  • will be able to identify and discuss the major physical impacts, including spatial conflicts linked to aquaculture sites
  • will be able to identify and discuss the major sources and effects of chemical and nutrient inputs to the environment at various levels in the value chain
  • will be familiar with selected monitoring and management tools and updated trends in technological solutions
  • will demonstrate critical thinking applied to sources of information about aquaculture impacts by finding relevant sources of information on aquaculture impacts representing different viewpoints
  • will be able to evaluate quality of information from scientific and general sources
  • will be able to develop an independent opinion on relevant issue, based on scientific information
  • will be able to express own opinion in a clear and concise manner, with correct notation of source material

Semester of Instruction


This course has a limited capacity, enrolment is based on application. The application deadline is Wednesday in week 2 for the spring semester. Please see this page for more information. You will receive confirmation of whether you received a seat in Studentweb no later than Monday the week after the deadline.

It is compulsory to attend the first lecture/orientation meeting, or you risk losing your seat. If you are unable to attend the first lecture, you must contact the Study Section (studie.bio@uib.no). The time of the first lecture/orientation meeting can be found in the schedule on the course website or on Mitt UiB.

Required Previous Knowledge
Compulsory courses in bachelor's in biology, or equivalent courses.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Previous knowledge of aquatic farming systems and fish biology is an advantage.
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Participation in student discussions and activities.
Forms of Assessment
Evaluation of written assignments and presentations (70%) and participation in class exercises (30%).
Grading Scale

The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade, grade F is a fail.


Type of assessment: Continuous assessment, including a take-home exam.

Reading List
The reading list will be available within July 1st for the autumn semester and January 1st for the spring semester.
Course Evaluation
Students will evaluate the course in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the Department. You can find courseevaluations in the Quality Assurance Reports.