Aquaculture needs to learn from experiences –

Aquaculture needs to learn from experiences Published:  22 April, 2009

Bjorn Hersoug

Bjorn Hersoug of the University of Tromso has called for the aquaculture industry to learn from past experience or risk repeating unsustainable growth followed by collapsing production and employment.

His presentation in a plenary session at the start of day two of the SARF aquaculture conference in Edinburgh focused on whether the global aquaculture industry has learnt from its experiences as a new-comer in the economic and social life of coastal communities. In particular he focused on the aquaculture development experiences of Norway, Chile and Vietnam. While all have become major aquaculture producers, their prospects for sustainable development have varied widely. Norway has seen sustained growth of its industry over the years and is expected to continue growing. Chile has shown remarkable growth but is expected to show a disastrous decline in production over the next few years, with production levels probably dropping to less than half of those in recent years. Vietnam has shown even more remarkable growth however most expect that these growth levels are unsustainable and may well collapse in the future.

Dr Hersoug suggested that there were real limits to rapid growth of aquaculture industries and that these need to be taken into account if the objective is sustainable growth. His case studies demonstrated that unsustainable growth such as that experienced in Chile can have severely negative impacts and even in countries where there has been sustainable growth, such as Norway, a lack of engagement with local communities can make them less welcoming to ‘big business’ aquaculture.

The themes for the rest of the presentations on day two of the conference are Sustainability and Fish Health and Welfare with presentations by a mixture of UK and Norwegian based researchers.