Any form of sea life taken from the sea that is regarded as consumable food by humans is known as seafood. Chief among seafood include shellfish and fish with a variety of crustaceans, molluscs and echinoderms. Some parts of Asia also consider edible sea plants such as microalgae and seaweeds as seafood, within the category of sea vegetables. In North America however, seafood refers to organisms in freshwater consumed by humans, which implies that all marine life that is edible can be regarded as seafood.
Wild seafood that is harvested is regarded as fishing, whereas aquaculture means the cultivation and farming of seafood; it is also known as fish farming or mariculture. Considered to be a significant source of protein in a number of diets across the globe, seafood is of prime importance to many diets and it has been that usually coastal areas are abundant with seafood dishes.
While a good deal of seafood yield is edible for humans, a vital percentage is also utilised as food for fish in order to cultivate edible fish or for the breeding of farm animals.
The cultivation and consumption of seafood is an ancient practice that dates back to almost 40,000 years ago, at the beginning of the Palaeolithic period. Archaeology reveals that the Egyptians had modern implements to fish in the river Nile that was abundant with seafood. Much of the Egyptian population consumed dried fish and fresh fish that was a staple in their diets. Ancient Greek culture also reveals numerous instances of fishing, from paintings to books.
Since fresh fish is highly decomposable, it must be eaten fresh or discarded immediately as it cannot be maintained in room temperature for a long period of time, given its short lived nature. A number of countries now refrigerate fresh fish and fillet them to display on a bed of ice in order to prolong its freshness.