Catfish aquaculture is arguably the most efficient source of protein for human diets on the planet. It yields an average of 250 to 400 tonnes per hectare, that's about 50 times more than rice paddies of the same size. And in terms of water consumption per tonne of produce, the sector does far better than shrimp ponds or freshwater fish tanks, being nearly on-par with rice paddies. All in all, catfish ponds have a low environmental footprint per unit of output. Aside from its low water usage, it also has few impacts on water quality. What's more, discarded fish parts are converted into oil and animal feed, while nutrient-rich wastewater can be reused as fertilizer, further reducing waste and emissions. Some small-scale farmers are also combining aquaculture with crop farming, saving water and increasing their resilience at the same time.
Catfish aquaculture is perfectly suited to small-scale farming. At the same time, these traditional backyard ponds scale up to big business. In the past decade, the produce of backyard ponds has transformed into a vibrant commercial export industry, netting USD 1.4 billion in 2009 alone. Now, catfish farms in Vietnam generate over one million tonnes of food every year and employ over 170,000 people (WWF 2012). 1
CCAFS Big Facts - Farming catfish intensively in Vietnam: https://ccafs.cgiar.org/bigfacts/#theme=evidence-of-success&subtheme=fisheries&casestudy=fisheriesCs2
WWF. 2012. In Vietnam, Helping Catfish Farming Become More Sustainable.http://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/in-vietnam-helping-catfish-farming-become-more-sustainable Vietnam is the source of more than 90 percent of the world's pangasius exports, which have increased 50-fold in the last decade. The majority of this pangasius is farmed in 23 square miles of ponds across nine provinces of the Mekong River Delta—a critically important freshwater habitat. In 2011, the regions farmed pangasius production amounted to 600,000 tons. This intensive, high-volume production system is very efficient, a workable commercial method providing protein to a growing world population that experts estimate could reach 9 billion by 2050.