October 7, 2005
Science published an intriguing and important essay today by Primavera discussing aquaculture and how it can be made more sustainable. Science, Vol 310, Issue 5745, 57-59 , 7 October 2005.
Aquaculture, the farming of shrimp and other useful aquatic and marine plants and animals in artificially confined and tended ponds, pens, and cages, ranks as a phenomenal success story in global food production. In 1975, aquaculture contributed 8% to the overall yield of the world's fish harvest; now it provides more than one-third of the yield. Total aquaculture production in 2003 was 54.8 million metric tons valued at $67.3 billion in U.S. dollars. More than 90% of this output comes from Asia, where aquaculture has its origins and where this month's essay author has lived and worked all of her life. In her essay, Jurgenne H. Primavera, senior scientist of the Aquaculture Department of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center based in Iloilo, Central Philippines, traces the recent history of aquaculture and the socioeconomic and environmental challenges that its rapid growth has wrought, especially for the mangrove ecosystems in which much of brackishwater pond aquaculture occurs. With an eye on all stakeholders, Primavera lays out how aquaculture is now falling short of the goal of sustainability and what steps might be taken to move the industry in that direction.
Almost simultaneously, Christophe Bene has published The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Discourse, Policy Controversies and the Role of Science in the Politics of Shrimp Farming Development, Development Policy Review, Vol. 23, No. 5, pp. 585-614, September 2005
This article revisits through a policy analysis the ongoing debate on shrimp farming aquaculture. It describes the changes in policy orientations that have taken place in recent years, and tries to relate them to the advocacy strategies developed by different networks and policy communities. The analysis reveals in particular the crucial contribution of the 'power of expertise' and shows how it has been instrumentalised by certain advocacy networks to depoliticise the debate. While this has allowed a number of key stakeholders to refocus the debate on technical solutions, it has prevented other groups concerned with more intractable social and political issues from engaging successfully in the policy process, thus leaving the long-term sustainability of aquaculture still a contentious issue.
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Paul Molyneaux's upcoming book, "Swimming in Circles: Aquaculture and the End of Wild Oceans" examines aquaculture development within the same economic context that drove fisheries into steep decline in the late 20th century. According to Molyneaux, fisheries and aquaculture policy, as exemplified in Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act, and the Offshore Aquaculture Act, now before Congress, offers a textbook case of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting diffferent results. Until the definition of sustainability is agreed upon, and the economic models supporting development changed accordingly, sustainable aquaculture will be as illusive as sustainable fisheries.
Posted by: Regina Grabrovac | Nov 17, 2006 9:34:55 AM