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Guidebook On Systems Of Co-management In Aquaculture

On July 12, Simon Bush will present the Guidebook for developing aquaculture co-management systems to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This Guidebook provides guidance on possible types of collaboration between producers and states can help improve the sustainability of aquaculture around the world.

Ensuring the continued contribution of aquaculture to the production of nutritious aquatic food requires the management of shared risks, such as disease, and shared access to key resources, such as water, land, feed and seed, necessary for sustainable production across a range of inland, coastal and marine ecosystems. How these shared risks and resources can be addressed by farmers who focus largely on practices within production units remains a management challenge that extends to the aquaculture sector as a whole. The FAO Guidebook on aquaculture co-management should help with this.

Co-management of aquaculture

The Guidebook for developing aquaculture co-management systems introduces the concept of “aquaculture co-management” that enables the shared but differentiated responsibility, rights and benefits from shared resources and risks. Aquaculture co-management can assist farmers and governments alike to implement the FAO’s ecosystem based approach to aquaculture.

Guidelines in aquaculture are new

Co-management as an approach to natural resource management is already being used in other sectors. Bush: “In fisheries, communities and governments work together to agree on management goals and rules around access to fishing areas. Forms of co-management also exist in forestry and irrigation, but guidelines for co-management in aquaculture are new. It is not immediately obvious because they are private enterprises. However, water is public property and there are risks in aquaculture production, such as diseases, polluted wastewater and environmental issues. The guidelines provide guidance for countries to shape co-management around aquaculture.”

Globally recognized reference documents

The handbook is not a law or regulation from the UN, but a guide for countries and governments. Soon they will have globally recognized reference documents at their disposal, but they are not obliged to act on them. The handbook will be presented July 12 in Rome at the 36th edition of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), the global intergovernmental forum where FAO members meet to discuss issues and challenges in fisheries and aquaculture.

Bridging the gap

What is interesting about the manual, according to Bush, is that it bridges the approach at the farm level. “We always emphasize what farmers should do individually on their farms and we have broad aspirations for sustainable ecosystems, but there is a clear gap between the two. This document is a bridge, with forms of collaboration between farmers within ecosystems and within countries, along with governments making rules and regulations. This can ultimately lead to a more legitimate and credible approach to sustainable aquatic food production.”

More recognition for aquaculture

Bush hopes many states and communities will use the guidebook. “I think it can greatly influence the way aquaculture is understood, in a positive way. Aquaculture is not just a private activity; it’s a shared activity that affects the entire ecosystem. We need to manage it at that scale to collectively ensure that we are supporting and maintaining ecosystems, while recognizing that on an individual scale there is a profit motive. Managing it well together will also bring more recognition to aquatic food as one of the most nutritious and sustainable products relative to many other animal proteins. That is ultimately what I hope to achieve with this document.”

About Simon Bush

Simon Bush is Professor and Chair of the Environmental Policy Group at Wageningen University. His main research interest focuses on the global dimensions of sustainable marine and aquatic food governance, including both aquaculture and fisheries. More broadly he is engaged in research on governing interactions between sustainable food, energy and biodiversity – linked in large part to the staff and PhD students at the Environmental Policy Group.

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) might be of the point-in-time nature, and edited for clarity, style and length. Mirage.News does not take institutional positions or sides, and all views, positions, and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s).View in full here.

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