This paper reviews freshwater use in inland and coastal pond aquaculture, and focuses on options to increase productivity while reducing water use. Total freshwater use depends on system-associated and feed-associated water losses. System-associated water losses depend on total area, evaporation, infiltration and water replacement. About 8,750,000 ha freshwater and 2,333,000 ha brackish water ponds are in use today. Total water withdrawal in freshwater aquaculture is estimated at 16.9 m3/kg production, representing 429 km3/yr, which is 3.6% of flowing water globally. Infiltration and replacement water recharges aquifers; if these losses are clean, their re-use decreases aquaculture-related water withdrawal by nearly 60%. A further reduction in freshwater use in aquaculture can come from intensification and aquafeed development. The goal should be to feed the pond, not the fish. A tripling of average pond production should be possible, without increasing total freshwater use. Such improvements will also benefit brackish water aquaculture, which could in turn further reduce freshwater use by increasing the productivity of saline systems.

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