The sustainable seafood movement is at a crossroads. Its core strategy, also known as a theory of change, is based on market-oriented initiatives such as third-party certification but does not motivate adequate levels of improved governance and environmental improvements needed in many fisheries, especially in developing countries. Price premiums for certified products are elusive, multiple forms of certification compete in a crowded marketplace and certifiers are increasingly asked to address social as well as ecological goals. This paper traces how the sustainable seafood movement has evolved over time to address new challenges while success remains limited. We conclude by exploring four alternative potential outcomes for the future theory of change, each with different contributions to creating a more sustainable global seafood supply.
Aquaculture, Seafood, and Food Security
The global expansion of aquaculture has raised concerns about its environmental impacts, including effects on wildlife. Aquaculture farms are thought to repel some species and function as either attractive population sinks (‘ecological traps’) or population sources for others. We conducted a systematic review and meta‐analysis of empirical studies documenting interactions between aquaculture operations and vertebrate wildlife. Farms were associated with elevated local abundance and diversity of wildlife, although this overall effect was strongly driven by aggregations of wild fish at sea cages and shellfish farms (abundance: 72×; species richness: 2.0×). Birds were also more diverse at farms (1.1×), but other taxa showed variable and comparatively small effects. Larger effects were reported when researchers selected featureless or unstructured habitats as reference sites. Evidence for aggregation ‘hotspots’ is clear in some systems, but we cannot determine whether farms act as ecological traps for most taxa, as few studies assess either habitat preference or fitness in wildlife. Fish collected near farms were larger and heavier with no change in body condition, but also faced higher risk of disease and parasitism. Birds and mammals were frequently reported preying on stock, but little data exist on the outcomes of such interactions for birds and mammals – farms are likely to function as ecological traps for many species. We recommend researchers measure survival and reproduction in farm‐associated wildlife to make direct, causal links between aquaculture and its effects on wildlife populations.
The Norwegian government has decided that the aquaculture industry shall grow, provided that the growth is environmentally sustainable. Sustainability is scored based on the mortality of wild salmonids caused by the parasitic salmon lice. Salmon lice infestation pressure has traditionally been monitored through catching wild sea trout and Arctic char using nets or traps or by trawling after Atlantic salmon postsmolts. However, due to that the Norwegian mainland coastline is nearly 25 000 km, complementary methods that may be used in order to give complete results are needed. We have therefore developed an operational salmon lice model, which calculates the infestation pressure all along the coast in near real-time based on a hydrodynamical ocean model and a salmon lice particle tracking model. The hydrodynamic model generally shows a negative temperature bias and a positive salinity bias compared to observations. The modeled salmon lice dispersion correlates with measured lice on wild salmonids caught using traps or nets. This allows for using two complementary data sources in order to determine the infestation pressure of lice originating from fish farms on wild salmonids, and thereby provide an improved monitoring system for assessing risk and sustainability which forms the basis for knowledge-based advice to management authorities.
The present work develops and implements at the global scale an innovative methodological approach to identify opportunities for farming seven fish species in offshore zones. The proposed methodology is based on a three-step approach integrated by: i) the biological suitability, to identify areas with optimal conditions for fish growth; ii) the structural suitability, to identify adequate areas for the integrity and durability of the cages; and iii) the operational suitability to evaluate the possibility of carrying out the operational and maintenance activities. The integration of these three complementary aspects, allowed the mapping of suitable zones for farming each fish species. It is shown, that the main potential zones for fish farming are concentrated in South America (South Pacific and South Atlantic Ocean), Africa (North Atlantic Ocean), Mediterranean Sea, Japanese and Chinese Seas and Oceania. The unprecedented global analysis presented by this work, considering comprehensive aspects other than only the biological requirements, provides guidelines to assist future studies in marine management.
We examine the benefits flowing from a coastal seascape through seafood trade to various social groups in two distinct small-scale fishery case studies. A knowledge gap currently exists in relation to how benefits from a fishery, and the associated trade, are ultimately distributed, specifically, how market structures and relations, and the combined dynamics of the local fishing society, can mediate these flows. Previous research into improved fisheries governance for food and livelihood security has failed to integrate the structure of the market place as well as the multidimensional nature of actor relations that influence extractive behavior. Using a value chain framework, we take a relational approach to study these gaps. Surveys were conducted in two fisheries (Zanzibar and the Philippines) as part of a comparative analysis including market-types, assistance networks, and income inequality. Chain structures, gender roles, and levels of contractualization within the two cases differed vastly, appearing to give rise to different types of income inequalities and barriers to participation. In the Philippines economic exchanges revolve more around provision of financial capital, although in both systems social standing and obligations play a role in determining market structures. In Zanzibar trading agents engaging customers in predetermined sale arrangements earn relatively more than their counterpart freelancers, however at the production level no income differences are seen between those with or without arrangements. Both cases stand to be further integrated into the international seafood market, which raises questions over how certain actors will benefit, based on their current participation and access. Results emphasize the need for more evidence in regards to benefits flows and how aspects such as gender and transaction forms impact them. This is necessary for governance decisions around fisheries, poverty alleviation, and increased global market integration.
Aquaculture is among the fastest growing industries in the world and the fastest in the food production sector. However, not all aquaculture organisms are produced for human consumption. Indeed, an important fraction of aquaculture products target a wide variety of applications, from pharmaceutical, cosmeceutical, ornamental and nutraceutical applications, as well as biofuel production, conservation efforts and academic purposes, among others. Despite the increasing importance of aquaculture for non‐food purposes, a comprehensive review covering the state of the art of this topic, its latest developments and future trends is missing. Here, we review what marine organisms are produced for non‐food purposes, as well as why and how they are produced. Instead of providing a thorough methodological review, production protocols are briefly summarized and an updated guide to the most relevant literature is provided. We overview current developments driving the aquaculture of non‐food organisms, underpin their most significant applications and highlight future prospects for non‐food aquaculture.
We reviewed 148 assessments of animal source food (ASF) production for livestock, aquaculture, and capture fisheries that measured four metrics of environmental impact (energy use, greenhouse‐gas emissions, release of nutrients, and acidifying compounds) and standardized these per unit of protein production. We also examined additional literature on freshwater demand, pesticide use, and antibiotic use. There are up to 100‐fold differences in impacts between specific products and, in some cases, for the same product, depending on the production method being used. The lowest impact production methods were small pelagic fisheries and mollusk aquaculture, whereas the highest impact production methods were beef production and catfish aquaculture. Many production methods have not been evaluated, limiting our analysis to the range of studies that have been published. Regulatory restrictions on ASF production methods, as well as consumer guidance, should consider the relative environmental impact of these systems, since, currently, there appears to be little relationship between regulatory restrictions and impact in most developed countries.
Aquaculture is supporting demand and surpassing wild-caught seafood. Yet, most fed aquaculture species (finfish and crustacea) rely on wild-captured forage fish for essential fatty acids and micronutrients, an important but limited resource. As the fastest growing food sector in the world, fed aquaculture demand will eventually surpass ecological supply of forage fish, but when and how best to avoid this ecological boundary is unclear. Using global production data, feed use trends, and human consumption patterns, we show how combined actions of fisheries reform, reduced feed use by non-carnivorous aquaculture and agricultural species, and greater consistent inclusion of fish by-products in China-based production can circumvent forage fish limits by mid-century. However, we also demonstrate that the efficacies of such actions are diminished if global diets shift to more seafood-heavy (that is, pescatarian) diets and are further constrained by possible ecosystem-based fisheries regulations in the future. Long-term, nutrient-equivalent alternative feed sources are essential for more rapid and certain aquaculture sustainability.
The aim of this research was to propose and evaluate a methodological approach to integration and spatial data analysis in order to generate information towards a participatory site selection for bivalve marine aquaculture in the Baía Sul, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil. For this purpose, the Baía Sul was investigated considering an ecosystem approach for aquaculture leading to an assessment of its potential for marine aquaculture. The planning of the aquaculture parks was made through a participatory process to incorporate both environmental carrying capacity and social carrying capacity. Experts and modellers developed a GIS model to assess the potential for marine aquaculture in Baía Sul. Continuous (unclassified) maps were used to provide spatial information about the variation of the potential for marine aquaculture in the Baía Sul. The maps were used to plan 53 aquaculture parks over the Baía Sul. The site selection of the parks was made in six public hearings attended by 403 stakeholders from 38 institutions representing different sectors with diverse interests in coastal zone. The results showed that although the Baía Sul is suitable for the growth of bivalve molluscs, some hydrodynamic characteristics and the influence of urbanization constitute a sanitary risk for the activity. Experts, modellers and stakeholders had a different perception about the importance of criteria in the aquaculture parks site selection. While the experts and modellers considered the environmental criteria as the most important aspect to locate the aquaculture parks, the stakeholders took into account mainly the logistics. The final result of the aquaculture parks location, approved by the Brazilian Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture (MPA), adopted the site selection by the stakeholders, providing aquaculture parks in areas with sanitary risk for the bivalve cultivation. The main advantage of the adopted assessment strategy was to identify the divergence between experts, modellers and the stakeholders and the distance that still exist between scientist and decision makers in Brazil.
The rapid growth of aquaculture has raised the environmental concern about the conversion of ecologically important areas such as mangroves and agricultural lands. The study explored the impact of shrimp aquaculture on land use change in India’s coastal wetlands using Landsat satellite data, geographical information system techniques and field verification. From 1988 to 2013, the area under aquaculture has grown by 879 %, which brought the tremendous changes in the coastal land use pattern. Mangrove and agriculture lands have been used for 5.04 % and 28.10 % of the aquaculture growth. Mudflats, scrublands, saltpan, and waterbodies have contributed to 51.65 %, 1.76 %, 1.73 % and 2.37 % of the aquaculture area expansion respectively. Mangrove areas have undergone severe changes due to gain and loss at different places. Environmental factors influenced the changes in mangroves, and the overall extent of mangrove has increased by 13.44 %. Construction activities and aquaculture have reduced the agricultural land by 3.52 % and 0.53 % respectively. The variation between the actual area under shrimp aquaculture and the Coastal Aquaculture Authority approved area indicate that the larger extent of shrimp farm operates without approval. Implementation of an intensive monitoring program for strict adherence to coastal aquaculture regulation laws will be helpful for the sustainability of coastal resources as well as aquaculture.