Applying the ecosystem services concept to aquaculture: A review of approaches, definitions, and uses

Last modified: 
January 7, 2019 - 1:30pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2019
Date published: 02/2019
Authors: Jenny Weitzman
Journal title: Ecosystem Services
Volume: 35
Pages: 194 - 206
ISSN: 22120416

Recent years have witnessed growing interest in applying ecosystem service (ES) frameworks to promote holistic decision-making and develop sustainable aquaculture. The goal of this review was to analyze the status quo of research on aquaculture ES and identify knowledge gaps and research priorities to better align ES with holistic decision-making. This study conducted a systematic review of the academic literature and analyzed the coverage of aquaculture ES across 94 publications. The research field has evolved substantially in the last ten years, reaching a multidisciplinary audience around the world. While research coverage included all major production environments (coastal marine, brackishwater, and freshwater) and cultured species groups (finfish, bivalves, crustaceans, and seaweeds), emphasis is currently limited towards certain types of aquaculture and study areas (namely, brackishwater shrimp farming). This review found a flexible but inconsistent application of ES concepts and methods to support multiple decision-contexts including policy, development, and conservation. This paper proposes a research agenda to address research gaps, adopt more holistic ES-driven research, and apply consistent and comparable ES measures through an aquaculture lens. Ultimately, this should be supported by a shift in thinking that frames aquaculture as ‘aqua-ecosystems’, recognizing aquaculture as fundamentally embedded within linked social and ecological systems.

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