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Basic Information

Although aquaculture literally means looking after water, this is not how the word is generally used1 - instead, as a sort of calque of agriculture, it tends to refer to the gathering of resources (primarily food) from watery environments (such as lakes, rivers or the sea). This does not include mining (much as agriculture does not), but can include things like collecting seaweed for industrial use or harvesting resources such as byssus or murex. Salt panning is also generally out of scope of the term, but might be close enough in concept for whatever gaming purposes brought you to this page. Likewise the gathering of seashells and coral for use by a limeburner. Aquaculture is the traditional primary industry of most coastal communities and many located by other bodies of water - fishing being the most obvious example.

Ironically, most of the activities encompassed by aquaculture would be strictly defined as foraging until the modern era, although there is limited historical evidence of deliberate cultivation of some seaweeds, fish and shellfish.

Since fishing is traditionally included, it would also seem appropriate to include whaling and the hunting of other marine mammals such as seals and manatees.

Aquaculture-related Professions:
fisherman, leech-collector, marine biologist, oyster raker, oysterer, seaweed harvester, whaler


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • In general actual cultivation of marine organisms has been marginal for most of history due to the technology required for humans to work underwater for any length of time, but magic or divergent tech trees might be able to alter this a bit.
  • This might be even easier in a lake - a large and relatively shallow lake could probably be extensively cultivated by diving for any work that couldn't be done from the surface and fish populations might be herded using trained seals or dolphins and penned in netted enclosures.
  • Shellfish farming is one fairly elderly exception - since many shellfish cope (and even thrive) in environments that are exposed at low tide, artificial beds are within the reach of pre-modern technology.
  • Expect this to be the normal business of a coastal village - if the locals don't engage in at least some aquaculture you should probably explain why.
  • Alexander the Great's forces encountered communities along the coast of the Gedrosian desert that lived entirely off fish - even feeding it to their goats in place of vegetation. This may or may not be factually true - it's more likely the goats were fed on seaweed (if they existed at all), but having made what passes for historical accounts of the time, gets the status of legend at the very least.
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