Links and Trade-Offs between Fisheries and Environmental Protection in Relation to the Sustainable Development Goals in Thailand
The fisheries sector significantly contributes to global food security, nutrition, and livelihood of people. Its importance for economic benefits, healthy diets, and nutrition, and achieving sustainable food systems is highlighted by several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), i.e., SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), and SDG 14 (Life Below Water). However, due to unprecedented population levels, the contribution of the fisheries sector to fulfills these roles is challenging, particularly given additional concerns regarding environmental well-being and sustainability. From this perspective, this study aims to identify the links and trade-offs between the development of this sector and the environmental sustainability in Thailand via a critical analysis of their trends, current ecological impacts, and more importantly, their contributions to several individual SDGs. A time-series of Thailand’s fisheries production from 1995 to 2015 indicates a recent reduction from around 3.0 million tons in 1995 to 1.5 million tons in 2015 of wild fish and shellfish from marine and freshwater habitats. The maximum sustainable yield of these species has been exceeded. Conversely, Thailand’s aquaculture production has continued to grow over the last decade, resulting in a reduction of mangrove forest area, wild fish stocks, and water quality. While capture fisheries and aquaculture production significantly contribute to several SDG targets, there are potential trade-offs between their development and the achievement of SDGs within the planet dimension, i.e., SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), SDG 13 (Climate Action), SDG 14, and SDG 15 (Life on Land). On the one hand, the mitigation of overfishing will be beneficial for the targets of SDG 14, leading to more sustainable resource management. On the other hand, it might cause a decrease in the volume of marine catches and economic and social profits. We conclude that the SDGs can serve as a framework for both policymakers and industrial workers to monitor and compromise on regulations that will optimize productivity in the context of sustainable development.