White shrimp harvesting. (Photo: Koji Yamamoto/FAO)
Ecosystem approach to aquaculture presented
Friday, December 09, 2011, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) presented the chapter on the ecosystem approach to aquaculture.
"An ecosystem approach to aquaculture is a strategy for the integration of the activity within the broader ecosystem, promoting sustainable development, equity and resilience of interlinked social and ecological systems," states the UN agency.
The entity adds that as a strategy, this approach is not what is done but how it is done: "The strategy is based on the participation of stakeholders."
For the FAO, social and biophysical dimensions of ecosystems are intimately related so it is very likely that a change in one dimension leads to a change in another one.
It also indicates that the change must be controlled and managed if the pace and direction threaten to affect the strength of the system.
It is also added that this strategy is developed through seven steps:
- The scope and definition of ecosystem boundaries and the identification of the interested parties;
- The identification of major problems;
- The prioritization of the issues;
- The definition of operational objectives;
- The development of an implementation plan;
- The corresponding application process that includes strengthening, monitoring and assessing;
- A review of the long-term policy.
According to the FAO, the application of the ecosystem approach to aquaculture "requires strengthening institutions and management systems that can implement an integrated approach to aquaculture development fully considering the needs and impacts of other sectors."
The widespread adoption of an ecosystem approach will require a much tighter connection of science, policy and management.
"It will also require governments to include a focus on policies, strategies and plans for aquaculture development," adds the FAO.
The document also states that the restocking of fish in closed water bodies and in areas suitable for collection, especially lakes and artificial reservoirs can result in significantly higher yields than those of the wild fishery.
This integration of fisheries and aquaculture offers great potential for poverty alleviation and for food security with minimal inputs, and with minimal or no environmental impact.
FAO also explained that aquaculture must reduce its dependence on world fisheries for fishmeal and fish oil production if a significant proportion of fish will be provided for human consumption in a sustainable manner.
By Analia Murias
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization - Fisheries and Aquaculture Department (Headquarter)