Building an ecosystem approach
to aquaculture

FAO/Universitat de les Illes Balears Expert Workshop
7–11 May 2007
Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Edited by

Doris Soto
José Aguilar-Manjarrez

Aquaculture Management and Conservation Service
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department


Nathanael Hishamunda
Development and Planning Service
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department

Rome, 2008

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Table of Contents

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ISBN 978-92-5-106075-9
ISSN 1813-3940

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Soto, D.; Aguilar-Manjarrez, J.; Hishamunda, N. (eds).
Building an ecosystem approach to aquaculture. FAO/Universitat de les Illes Balears Expert Workshop. 7–11 May 2007, Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Proceedings. No. 14. Rome, FAO. 2008. 221p.


Aquaculture growth worldwide involves the expansion of cultivated areas, a higher density of aquaculture installations and farmed individuals and greater use of feed resources produced outside of the immediate culture area. Such evolution of the sector could carry negative impacts on the environment and on portions of the society when unregulated and badly managed. In response to the explicit request of the Third Session of the Committee of Fisheries (COFI) Sub-Committee on Aquaculture to improve the management and enhance the socio-economic impacts of aquaculture, the Aquaculture Management and Conservation Service (FIMA) of the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department initiated in 2006 an effort to look into the development and application of the ecosystem approach to aquaculture. This activity is funded under a Japanese Trust Fund Project (Towards Sustainable Aquaculture: Selected Issues and Guidelines) and conducted in collaboration with the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and Planning Service (FIEP).

Several activities have taken place to support sustainable aquaculture, including the workshop coorganized with the Universitat de les Illes Balears that took place from 7–11 May 2007 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain on “Building and ecosystem approach to aquaculture”. The workshop participants, a multidisciplinary and multinational group of experts, agreed that: “An ecosystem approach for aquaculture (EAA) is a strategy for the integration of the activity within the wider ecosystem in such a way that it promotes sustainable development, equity, and resilience of interlinked social and ecological systems”. Such strategy should be guided by three main principles that should ensure the contribution of aquaculture to sustainable development: i) aquaculture should be developed in the context of ecosystem functions and services with no degradation of these beyond their resilience capacity; ii) aquaculture should improve human wellbeing and equity for all relevant stakeholders; and iii) aquaculture should be developed in the context of (and integrated to) other relevant sectors. Three scales/levels of EAA application were identified and discussed: the farm; the waterbody and its watershed/ aquaculture zone; and the global, market-trade scale. These proceedings present the output of this workshop and include contributed papers on: concepts, principles, scales and management measures; human dimensions; economic implications; and legal implications; that are relevant for an ecosystem-based management to the sector. Two comprehensive review papers cover the status of brackish, marine and freshwater aquaculture under the light of an ecosystem-based management, indicating the major shortfalls and opportunities for such an approach are also included.

Clearly, the implementation of the EAA will require changes in human behaviour and understanding of ecosystem’s functioning; it will also require the development of institutions capable of integrating different sectors including aquaculture, especially in terms of shared agreed objectives and standards. As some of the reviews point out, scarce participatory processes, poor understanding of social sustainability requirements and poor governance hinders the widespread adoption of an ecosystem approach to aquaculture. Therefore more guidance is needed on these matters; these proceedings attempt to contribute to that by providing baseline information and some initial guidance.

©FAO 2007


Part I  (Download pdf 882 kb)

Preparation of this document

Genesis of the workshop

Workshop development and findings

Workshop recommendations and the potential role of FAO

Annex 1 -  Agenda

Annex 2 -  List of participants

Part II  (Download pdf 403 kb)


Applying an ecosystem-based approach to aquaculture:
principles, scales and some management measures

Doris Soto, José Aguilar-Manjarrez, Jorge Bermúdez, Cécile Brugère, Dror Angel,
Conner Bailey, Kenny Black, Peter Edwards, Barry Costa-Pierce, Thierry Chopin,
Salud Deudero, Shirra Freeman, John Hambrey, Nathanael Hishamunda, Duncan Knowler,
William Silvert, Nuria Marba, Syndhia Mathe, Ricardo Norambuena, François Simard,
Paul Tett, Max Troell and Alexandre Wainberg

Human dimensions of an ecosystem approach to aquaculture
Conner Bailey

Economic implications of an ecosystem approach to aquaculture
Duncan Knowler

Legal implications of an ecosystem approach to aquaculture
Jorge Bermúdez

Part III  (Download pdf 710 kb)


An ecosystem approach to marine aquaculture: a global review
Barry Costa-Pierce

An ecosystem approach to freshwater aquaculture: a global review
John Hambrey, Peter Edwards and Ben Belton

Part IV  (Download pdf 355 kb)


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