Aquaculture & Societal Impacts
Aquatic foodhas often been absent from food security fora, an important omission given its critical importance to ensuring all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” We recently participated in a broad analysis of knowledge gaps and research quality in the area (see article) which is helping us refine our research priorities in the area. Clearly ‘fish security’ has variable importance and often relates to cultural norms-how much fish and other aquatic animals form part of the typical diet.
Aquaculture can be part of peoples’ livelihoods in many ways. Using a systems perspective we typically assess the impacts at broader macro-levels before trying to understand impacts in communities in which aquaculture occurs. Benefits to livelihoods can generally betraced along value chains that link production on farms to consumers.
Understanding how aquaculture might be a an activity that leads to reducing poverty, alleviating it’s worst effects or transforming communities through its direct and indirect benefits has been a key area of our research. Conventional wisdom has been that subsistence-orientated, low-input aquaculture development is most appropriate for improving the situation of the poor but recent research has challenged this. Commercial aquaculture, through its impacts on employment generation through the value chain has been associated with transformational change in countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam.
A key element in the co-development of improved systems is local ownership and building a shared understanding of possible futures. We develop relationshipsand then aim to work closely in partnership , withlocal organisations and individuals in areas where we work. Identifying and encouraging and sharing local innovations is critical to this process.
Identifying where aquatic animals contribute to human nutrition, particularly of vulnerable groups, in complex and rapidly evolving societies is a key area of interest. Integrating aquaculture into broader food systems is a major focus of many of our research projects and teaching activities. Aquaculture is typically linked at the local level through shared use of resources such as land, labour, water and nutrients with other forms of food production Understanding the impacts of export-orientated aquaculture, in contrast to that geared towards meeting domestic demand, has been an important part of our research portfolio.