Modeling Impacts of Aquaculture Production and Use of Common Water Bodies - Phase 1

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Region: Southeast Asia


The farming of fish in containment systems (cages, tanks, ponds, etc.) is based on raising them at higher densities than are normally found in nature and feeding them on pellet diets. That is, both the fish and the added feed represent additions of organic materials to a natural system. One key to sustainable aquaculture development is to be sure that the added organic materials do not overwhelm the capacity of the environment to assimilate the waste (or other) products resulting from the aquaculture operation (sometimes referred to as :carrying capacity”). Unfortunately, in many areas of Southeast Asia, aquaculture has proceeded apace before an appropriate regulatory structure has been established, so that the environment has already been impacted to greater or lesser degree. Many models have been developed for aquaculture, including models to predict the impacts of aquaculture production on other components of the ecosystem. Whatever the modeling approach chosen for a particular situation, it is critical that regulatory managers understand what the model is doing, accept the model as both realistic and useful, and are not overwhelmed by the model (i.e., it is not overly complicated or datademanding).

The soy industry will benefit from deliberate, sustainable development of aquaculture potential in SE Asia, brought about by adequate consideration of environmental carrying capacity for aquaculture. A boom-and-bust scenario due to rapid aquaculture development that results in degraded environments unsuitable for aquaculture will ultimately wipe out the farmers and deprive soy farmers of a market for their products. Environmental modeling to determine carrying capacity for aquaculture production in common (shared) water bodies in SE Asia will be necessary to avoid boom-and-bust development and therefore develop stable markets for soy producers.

The purpose of this project is to determine the needs and capabilities of the SE Asian countries for modeling impacts of aquaculture production and use of common water bodies. With this knowledge, USB and ASA-IM can assist regulators and farmers in the development of a regional approach to sustainable aquaculture development.