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Aquaculture Not Always a Poverty Solver

by Ellen Hardy
19 February 2008, at 12:00am

WORLDWIDE Aquaculture in tropical coastal areas is not always a positive option. Although shrimp and fish farming is regarded as an environmentally friendly way to alleviate poverty this cultivation has negative consequences, says Daniel A. Bergquist of Uppsala University, Sweden.

His studies demonstrate how policies for sustainable development can go wrong. In a report published in ScienceDaily, Bergquist, a human geographer, claims that the methods employed to evaluate the cost of producing farmed shrimp and fish are faulty. They underestimate the inputs from people and nature and lead to excessively low prices. By implementing methods that factor in all costs, he says that the price of tiger shrimp would need to be more than five times higher than it is today for the environment and the local population to benefit from the business.


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"The price of tiger shrimp would need to be more than five times higher than it is today for the environment and the local population to benefit from the business"
Daniel A. Bergquist, Researcher with Uppsala University

"One contributory factor is the faulty global market mechanisms that lead to growing inequities in the distribution of resources, profits, and costs between the northern and southern hemispheres," says Mr Berguist. "Aquaculture is a clear example of how the colonization of the southern hemisphere is still going on, finding new avenues via and international trade," he adds. globalisation

Excluded

In the report, he explains how significant proportions of local communities are excluded from the investments made in aquaculture businesses. These people continue to be just as poor and the only winners, he says, are the local elites.

The cultivating of fish and shellfish in artificial ponds has increased dramatically in the last few decades. Many international aid organizations, working with local governments, regard it as a means of in alleviating poverty and spurring economic growth , but in many cases the converse is true.
This has happened in areas such as Sri Lanka and the Philippines where poverty prevails in spite of huge investment in community aquaculture projects, says Mr Berguist. The environmental has also suffered. When mangrove forests are cut down to make way for shrimp and fish ponds, the ecosystem is affected and in turn, impact on aquaculture as entire harvests can be lost.


To read the full story click here.

Ellen Hardy