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Shrimp farming is one of the fastest growing aquaculture sectors in many parts of the world and also one of the most controversial. Rapid expansion of this sector generated income for many countries, but has been accompanied by rising concerns over environmental and social impacts.

The International Principles for Responsible Shrimp Farming provide the basis upon which stakeholders can collaborate for a more sustainable development of shrimp farming. The International Principles have been developed by the Consortium on Shrimp farming and the Environment, which consists of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA), the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP/GPA), the World Bank (WB) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Contents

1. Background and Purpose

  • Introduction
  • Shrimp Farming
  • Process
  • Purpose

2. International Principles for Responsible Shrimp Farming

  • Principle 1 – Farm Siting
  • Principle 2 – Farm Design
  • Principle 3 – Water Use
  • Principle 4 – Broodstock and Postlarvae
  • Principle 5 – Feed Management
  • Principle 6 – Health Management
  • Principle 7 – Food Safety
  • Principle 8 – Social Responsibility

3. Implementation

  • 3.1 Public sector
    Aquaculture legislation
    National aquaculture development strategies
    Integrated coastal area management and land use plans
    Environmental assessment
    Aquaculture monitoring
    Farm registration
    Institutional strengthening
  • 3.2 Private sector
    Adaptation and adoption to local conditions
    Investment
    Knowledge transfer and communications
    Farmer organizations and private institutions
    Stakeholder cooperation
  • 3.3 Regional and International Cooperation

4. Key references and information sources

  • 4.1 Key references
  • 4.2 Case studies conducted by the Consortium Program

     

1. Background and Purpose

Introduction

Aquaculture production and trade in aquaculture products continues to grow at a fast pace, responding to increased global demand for fifi sh, shrimp, molluscs and other aquatic products. In 2004, aquaculture production reached 59 million tonnes, with a farm gate value of $70 billion. Developing countries dominate aquaculture production and trade, contributing over 80% of production and 50% to the value of internationally traded aquatic products. Aquaculture is making an increasingly significant contribution to the global seafood trade, as well as to domestic consumption, and will continue to grow due to stagnating wild capture fisheries supplies.

With increasing volume of production, trade and consumption there is a concurrent and increasing demand for improved sustainability, social acceptability, and human health safety from the aquaculture sector. This is not only affecting the international trading environment and pressurizing producers to focus on production methods to address those issues, but also challenges producing countries to develop and implement adequate and appropriate policies and institutions that provide a conducive environment for responsible production and trade. To assist in achieving these objectives, the members of the Food and the Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) in 1995 adopted the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, providing a framework for responsible development of aquaculture and fifi sheries.

Shrimp Farming

Shrimp farming has been one of the fastest growing aquaculture sectors in Asia and Latin America, and recently Africa, but also one of the most controversial. Rapid expansion of shrimp farming has generated substantial income for many developing countries, as well as developed countries, but has been accompanied by rising concerns over environmental and social impacts of development. Major issues raised include the ecological consequences of conversion of natural ecosystems, particularly mangroves, for construction of shrimp ponds, the effects such as salination of groundwater and agricultural land, use of fifi sh meal in shrimp diets, pollution of coastal waters due to pond efflfl uents, biodiversity issues arising from collection of wild brood and seed, and social conflfl icts in some coastal areas. The sustainability of shrimp aquaculture has been questioned by some in view of self-pollution in shrimp growing areas, combined with the introduction of pathogens, leading to major shrimp disease outbreaks, and significant economic losses in producing countries.

Due to the strong global interest in shrimp farming and the issues that have arisen from its development, a Consortium Program involving the World Bank, the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacififi c (NACA), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was initiated in 1999 to analyze and share experiences on the environmental and social impacts, and management of sustainable shrimp farming. The development of the work program for the Consortium benefifi ted from recommendations of the FAO Bangkok Technical Consultation on Policies for Sustainable Shrimp Culture (FAO, 1998), a World Bank review on Shrimp Farming and the Environment (World Bank, 1998) and an April 1999 meeting on shrimp aquaculture management practices hosted by NACA and WWF in Bangkok, Thailand. The FAO Expert Consultation on Good Management Practices and Good Legal and Institutional Arrangements for Sustainable Shrimp Culture held in Brisbane, Australia in December 2000 provided further guidance to the Consortium process.

The FAO Committee on Fisheries Sub-Committee on Aquaculture in its second session held in Trondheim, Norway, in 2003 agreed that a set of “core” management principles should be developed to support sustainable development of aquaculture, with a priority to shrimp farming requiring improved management. The Consortium was requested to undertake this responsibility. During this meeting the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP/GPA) expressed its interest to join this initiative and subsequently the Consortium formalized the partnership through signing a collaborative agreement with UNEP/GPA. This recommendation and partnership provides the basis for development of an internationally accepted set of principles that can be widely adopted.

Process

The International Principles for Responsible Shrimp Farming have been synthesized from the outcome of the studies and consultations conducted by the Consortium, involving a wide range of stakeholders, from government, private and non-government organizations.

Purpose

The purpose of the International Principles as mandated by the members of FAO and NACA, is to provide principles for management of shrimp farming that provide guidance in implementation of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in the shrimp aquaculture sector. The International Principles consider technical, environmental, social and economic issues associated with shrimp farming and provide a basis for industry and government management to improve the overall sustainability of shrimp farming at national, regional and global levels. The principles and associated guidance on implementation may be used by public and private sectors for development of locally specific Codes of Practice (COP), better management practices (BMPs) or other management approaches for shrimp farming, suitable for adoption by farmers in particular social, economic and environmental contexts.

The International Principles provide the basis upon which stakeholders can collaborate for a more sustainable development of shrimp farming. For governments, they provide a basis for policy, administration and legal frameworks, that can be renewed (or formulated where there are none), adjusted, funded and implemented to address the specififi c characteristics and needs of the sector in order to protect and enhance the industry, the environment, other resource users and consumers. Typically, existing legislation and guidelines have been modififi ed from those suitable for other industries and are not always applicable to aquaculture. Strengthening of institutional arrangements, capacity and partnerships is also important to ensure the cooperation and coordination of all relevant institutions with jurisdiction over natural resources, animal and public health. The International Principles also provide the basis for development of standards and certififi cation systems. Further details on implementation and compliance to the International Principles will be available through another publication which is currently being prepared by the Consortium.

Further Information

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February 2007

Lucy Towers

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