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An Overview of Environmental Issues in Developing-Country Aquaculture


Aquaculture, like all food production by farming, has large effects on the environment, many of which can be negative: occupation and fragmentation of former natural habitats; reduction of the abundance and diversity of wildlife and changes in soil, water and landscape quality. The same applies to agriculture (Simons1988,1989). Because farming will remain the mainstay of most developingcountry economies for the foreseeable future and will cause much environmental change, it is essential that the potential negative effects of further development of aquaculture be thoroughly appraised. Environmental protection and nature conservation now have much higher.


This definition includes enhanced fisheries (stock enhancement, aquatic ranching and management of natural aquatic environments) within the scope of production systems considered. FA0 (1990b) includes in aquaculture statistics those “culture-based” fisheries that are stocked annually with propagated juveniles, but regards fisheries that are established through single or intermittent introductions as contributing to capture fisheries production. Aquaculture can be broadly classified as extensive, having no feed or fertilizer inputs; semi-intensive, having some fertilizer and/or feed inputs; and intensive, largely reliant on feed inputs (Edwards et al. L988a; Pullinl989). Enhanced fisheries resemble extensive aquaculture with low levels of human intervention.

Developing Countries and Development

“Productivity without sustainability is mining” (Dover and Talbot 1987). They pointed to various viewpoints on sustainable agriculture: supplyingenough food for all – the food sufficiency/ productivity viewpoint; maintaining average output indefinitely without depleting renewable resources – the ecological/stewardship viewpoint; and conserving the sociocultural aspects of rural society – the community viewpoint. The Brundt land Report (WCED 1987) stated: The concept of sustainable development does imply limits – not absolute limits but limitations imposed by the present state of technology and social organization on environmental resources and by the ability of the biosphere to absorb the effects of human activities. …. Sustainable development can only be achieve depopulation size and growth is in harmony with the changing productive potential of the ecosystem. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) has a Sustainability Committee which has stated: …. All Centers [International Agricultural Research Centers (iarcs)] should view the concept of sustainability as a guidepost to the development and introduction of agricultural techniques and technologies.

Agroecology and the Interaction of Aqu,aculture with Other Sectors

‘Sustainability’ a realistic concept? The word itself fails to combine a sense of durability and adaptability – for which it is default to find a single English word. Development should comprise evolutionary improvements in human welfare for both rural areas and rapidly growing cities and must make sense in terms of changing internal and foreign relations. “Resolvability” would be an appropriate, though clumsy, term. Indeed the fitness of organisms to their ecological niches and the evolution of species are useful analogies: capacity to adapt and prosper depends upon diversity. Diversity and scope for change in the technologies implemented for aquaculture development will be their best guarantee of lasting long enough to make substantial, environmentally compatible contributions to development and of leading to further positive changes. No system with human interventions lasts unchanged indefinitely

The Status of Developing-Country Aquaculture

Throughout the developing world. Much has been written about Asia being a region of strength and various countries being advanced in aquaculture. In comparative terms this is true. As a statement on the status of aquaculture vis-a-vis other sectors, it is highly misleading. Even in Asia, the number of farmers and coastal dwellers involved in part-time or full-time aquaculture is almost certainly below 1% of food producers. Most developing-country aquaculture is still the farming of undomesticated organisms in poorly understood systems. The supportive research base for developing-country aquaculture is weak (Pulling and Neal 1984). For enhanced fisheries it is very weak.

Last word

Shrimp culture has indeed expanded in Asia and Latin America, largely because technology was available and there were sites to be occupied, albeit often at high environmental and social costs (see below). Seaweed culture has also prospered. Such operations have validated to some extent the philosophy that emerged from the 1976 World Conference on Aquaculture in Kyoto, that aquaculture could, and should, be developed through productionorientated research, parallel to which more basic research would also expand. However, the result is a developingcountry aquaculture sector in which a few subsectors have prospered but the majority still lack reliable technology likely to attract new entrants, especially those of low-income groups.



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