Ecological Aquaculture as the Paradigm for the Blue Revolution
In the 21st century, aquaculture developers will need to spend as much time on the technological advances coming to the field as they do in designing ecological approaches to aquaculture development that clearly exhibit stewardship of the environment.
For aquaculture development to proceed to the point where it will be recognized worldwide as the most efficient contributor to new protein production—clear, unambiguous linkages between aquaculture and the environment must be created and fostered—and the complementary roles of aquaculture in contributing to environmental sustainability, rehabilitation and enhancement must be developed and clearly articulated to a highly concerned, increasingly educated and involved public.
The damaged and degraded state of most aquatic ecosystems worldwide—combined with public concerns about adding any “new” sources of pollution to already overburdened natural ecosystems—will require aquaculture to develop ecosystems approaches and sustainable operating procedures, and to articulate a sustainable, ecological aquaculture pedagogy.
Clearly, most of the public will not tolerate the addition of any new sources of pollution or the further degradation of the natural environment which is perceived to come at the expense of the degradation of the quality of life.
Connections between the disruption of our environment and human health are being made by an increasingly skeptical public determined to fight “the experts”. In many cases the simple implication of the presence of a chemical implies a hazard and a threat to human health.
In order to change the public perception of aquaculture as “outsiders” or “industrial polluters”, the aquaculture world community needs to focus its attention on a new paradigm—ecological aquaculture—an aquaculture that is technically sophisticated, knowledge-based, and ecologically and socially responsible.
Aquaculture in the 21st century must plan to become part of a community and a region, and have a wider plan for community development that works with policy-makers to provide needed inputs; recycle wastes; create a diversity of unprocessed and value-added products and provide local market access; and to plan for job creation and environmental enhancement on local and regional scales.
Ecological aquaculture development is needed to bring modern sustainability, ecological methods and systems thinking to aquaculture, incorporating social, economic, and planning for its wider social and environmental contexts (fisheries, coastal zone management).
Ecological aquaculture will create new opportunities for a wider group of professionals and entrepreneurs to get involved in aquaculture since new advances will be needed not only in treatment technologies, production management and feed technologies; but also in energy technologies, information management, public information and outreach, community facilitation and networking.
Costa-Pierce, B.A. 2007. Don’t Opt Out of the Blue Revolution. World Aquaculture Magazine Vol. 38 No. 2, June 2007
Barry A. Costa-Pierce, Ph.D. (Hawai’i, 1984)