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Guidelines To Ecosystem Approach For Aquaculture

GENERAL - The FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department has released new Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries on the Ecosystem approach to aquaculture (EAA).

The EAA is a strategy for the integration of the activity within the wider ecosystem such that it promotes sustainable development, equity and resilience of interlinked social-ecological systems. As such, the focus is not what is done, but rather how it is done.

The main objective of these guidelines is to assist countries, institutions and policy-makers in the development and implementation of a strategy to ensure the sustainability of the aquaculture sector, integration of aquaculture with other sectors and its contribution to social and economic development.

Social and biophysical dimensions of ecosystems are inextricably related such that a change in one dimension is highly likely to generate a change in the other. Although change is a natural consequence of complex interactions, it must be monitored and even managed if the rate and direction of change threatens to undermine system resilience.

“An ecosystem approach to aquaculture (EAA) is a strategy for the integration of the activity within the wider ecosystem such that it promotes sustainable development, equity, and resilience of interlinked social-ecological systems.”

Being a strategy, the ecosystem approach to aquaculture (EAA) is not what is done but rather how it is done. The participation of stakeholders is at the base of the strategy.

The EAA requires an appropriate policy framework under which the strategy develops through several steps: (i) the scoping and definition of ecosystem boundaries and stakeholder identification; (ii) indentification of the main issues; (iii) prioritisation of the issues; (iv) definition of operational objectives; (v) elaboration of an implementation plan; (vi) the corresponding implentation process, which includes reinforcing, monitoring and evalution; and (vii) a long term policy review. All these are steps informed by the best available knowledge.

Implementing the EAA will require strengthening institutions and associated management systems so that an integrated approach to aquaculture development can be implemented and account fully for the needs and impacts of other sectors. The key will be to develop institutions capable of integration, especially in terms of agreed upon objectives and standards.

The widespread adoption of an EAA will require a much tighter coupling of science, policy and management. It will also require that governments include the EAA in their aquaculture development policies, strategies and development plans.

the Fish Site Editor

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