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Building a framework for sustainable aquaculture

August 7, 2020  By  Nestor Arellano

Half of the world’s seafood production comes from various methods of rearing and harvesting fish, shellfish and other water organism either on land-based facilities or open water environments.

However, the aquaculture sector now faces a range of sustainability challenges, such as environmental degradation, antibiotics overuse, disease agents, and the widespread use of wild-caught fish meal. Many operators are also engaged in poor labour practices and gender inequality.

A team of researchers recently concluded a study which they hope will serve as a framework for governments and enterprise to bake-in sustainability principles and practices into their aquaculture programs. Their paper was published in the journal, Nature Food.


The study brings together scientists, economists, sociologists and policy specialists led by the Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Futures, a joint initiative between the University of Exeter and the United Kingdom’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, according to a report from the UC-Santa Barabara’s The Current.

“I hope it will become a blueprint for how government and industry interact on these issues in the future,” said lead author, Grant Stentiford of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. “Most importantly, it considers aquaculture’s evolution from a subject studied by specialists to an important food sector – requiring now a much broader interaction with policy and society than arguably has occurred in the past.”

The study, by Stentiford, senior co-author Charles Tyler from the University of Exeter, and University of California – Santa Barbara professor Halley E. Froehlich, uses the One Health framework to provide metrics for developing national aquaculture strategies.

The One Health framework uses concepts such  as access to nutritious food and quality employment, the health of wild fish stocks and ecosystems, and maintaining a small environmental footprint and resilience to climate change.

“Aquaculture is now being more widely recognized as an important part of our global food system,” said Froehlich, “And it will continue to grow. So the question is, how do we plot that course in a more sustainable way?”

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