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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A global analysis of the sustainability of marine aquaculture Trujillo, Pablo


Following a review of the history and main characteristics of mariculture, a global assessment of its sustainability over the 10 year period from 1994 to 2003 was performed, which suggests that sustainability is low. The assessment is based on 13 indicators covering ecological, economic and social aspects of the industry and involving 60 countries and 86 species. The suite of indicators were based on a set of criteria meant to be independent of areas, species and time, so that they have wide application and will be applicable for years to come. The indicators used in the analyses proved to be effective in differentiating levels of sustainability between countries and species and provided a benchmark on which to gauge progress within the industry in the coming decades. A single mariculture sustainability index (MSI), ranging between 1 and 10, was derived by combining the 13 indicators weighted by production to analyze differences between countries and species, and to compare the MSI with other indicators such as the environmental sustainability index (ESI) and the human development index (HDI). The highest ranking countries for sustainable mariculture are Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Japan and South Korea. In these countries, the common factor is farming (1) native species, (2) low trophic level species, (3) under non-intensive conditions, (4) for domestic consumption. The lowest ranking countries were Guatemala, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Honduras and Myanmar. The common factor in these countries is the culture of (1) non-native species, (2) higher trophic level species, (3) farmed intensively, and (4) destined for export, often to countries ranking high for mariculture sustainability. The highest ranking species on the sustainability scale were mollusks, specifically bivalves, i.e., blue mussels and cupped oysters. For finfish, the highest ranking taxa were Atlantic halibut, Spotted wolfish and European eel. The lowest ranking species belonged to the crustacean groups, specifically prawns and shrimp. Many of the most valuable groups such as shrimp and salmon were among the lowest scoring species in both developing and developed countries. The global average MSI score was 5.1 based on 361 cases. Based on this analyses, it is suggested that the industry is at the cross-roads of sustainability. There are a number of options for the industry to ensure it is sustainable over the long-term, including the implementation of best management practices, economic incentives and consumer awareness, expressed as a willingness to pay higher prices for sustainability. The results of this study provide the framework, indicators and baseline data on which to assess the sustainability of mariculture at global and regional levels, as well as across species. The MSI developed in this study can be used to generate globally, robust rankings of countries and taxa in terms of their sustainability.

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