"States should establish, maintain and develop an appropriate legal and administrative framework which facilitates the development of responsible aquaculture."
(CCRF Article 9.1.1)
General responsibilities. In order to promote, support, and regulate an efficient and responsible aquaculture sector, States should establish, maintain and further develop an appropriate administrative and legal framework to ensure that responsible aquaculture practices are introduced and implemented within their national jurisdiction.
Box 1. Government authorities are responsible for
existing and future aquaculture developments, and in many countries will
continue to play a major role in promoting and regulating aquaculture
development. In many countries, for example, existing administrative and legal
frameworks may need to be adjusted to address the specific characteristics and
needs of the sector. Likewise, legal provisions and regulatory measures may need
to be streamlined so as to clearly set forth the privileges and responsibilities
of aquaculturists. Frequently, aquaculture is still under a general fisheries
basic legislation, and is often not being recognized as the aquatic equivalent
to agriculture. There is much scope for increasing awareness of both public
institutions and the general public about aquaculture and its similarities with
agriculture. This may be achieved through collaborative efforts by aquafarmers,
authorities, media and non-governmental initiatives. This would contribute to
the development, as appropriate, of laws and regulations which reflect awareness
and recognition of aquaculture characteristics and needs.
Legal framework. States and their aquaculture authorities should ensure that the aquaculture sector is adequately regulated and protected by legal instruments such as laws, regulations, orders, agreements, etc. which set forth the responsibilities, rights and privileges of aquaculturists in a manner which is consistent with the current and potential aquaculture practices and with those applied to comparable activities. (Ref. 3, 4).
Understanding and enforcement of aquaculture legislation. States and their aquaculture authorities should ensure that all applicable legal instruments including laws, regulations, orders, etc. are conceived in such form as to be readily understood by those undertaking activities within the aquaculture sector, are adequately communicated to them, and finally that these legal instruments are enforceable and enforced. (Ref. 5, 6, 7).
Box 2. A Code of Practice ("soft law") may often
suit best the purposes of regulating aquaculture practices, and may have an
important role to play as a "regulatory instrument". When deciding between soft
and hard law, it is useful to consider the nature of the essential purposes of
the rules which are to be applied to the aquaculture activity, as well as to
define clearly the needs to regulate and control the future "social conduct" of
aquafarmers. In many cases it may be found that there is little need for such
measures, but that there is a need to protect and promote aquaculture
activities. Traditional forms of legal regulation which pursue rules enforced by
communal and administrative penalties are generally not well suited to address
all issues in aquaculture, in particular issues like product quality which
require encouraging progressive involvement and adoption of appropriate measures
rather than distinguishing between right and wrong (what's legal and illegal).
Adherence to Codes may be problematic in that they are not enforceable but they
are likely to be implemented by those concerned, given the moral weight they
carry. However, when facilitating the formulation of soft or hard law measures,
or combinations of these, it may prove very useful to ensure good collaboration
between regulators and aquafarmers, based on involvement of aquafarmers during
formulation, and recognition of their activity and needs. Consideration should
also be given to potential problems which might result from "over-regulation"
and overlapping or conflicting provisions.
(CCRF Article 9.1.2)
General responsibilities. States should, through their competent authorities, and in partnership with all interested actors of civil society, promote development of environmentally sound and sustainable aquaculture well integrated into rural, agricultural and coastal developments, raise awareness of the general public of the benefits of aquaculture practices for enhanced food supply and income generation, and support efforts aiming at responsible actions of aquafarmers and all those concerned or associated with aquaculture. (Ref. 8, 9, 10, 11).
Advance evaluations of genetic effects. Genetic effects may arise from the interaction of farmed species with wild species and can be caused by the use of introduced species and by species that have been domesticated, or genetically modified by an aquaculture breeding programme or other technologies. Undesirable genetic effects may include:
Advance evaluation of genetic effects should include a risk assessment that examines:
An assessment of the potential damage should be made and, in essence, the key question is "does the organism present a danger to the ecosystem or to important species in the area ?" In relation to genetic technologies and risk, the change the technology imparts to the organism should be evaluated rather than the technology itself. If certain technologies such as gene transfer are associated with high levels of uncertainty as to their effect on the organism or the environment, then more testing, stricter regulation and monitoring should be followed.
Box 3. For advance evaluation (i.e. pre-impact
assessment) to have significant and practical meaning, there should be
predetermined standards, i.e. acceptable limits of impacts. Present knowledge of
many ecosystems and their genetic diversity is often very incomplete, especially
in many developing countries and tropical regions. Setting standards for
allowable genetic "effluent" is still very difficult, because of the scarcity of
information on the effects of aquaculture/wild animal interaction, survival of
aquaculture escapees, and their impact on ecosystems. These acceptable levels of
impact will not only be necessary to make advance evaluation meaningful, but
they may also serve as guidelines or benchmarks for the monitoring of the
ensuing aquaculture development. The Precautionary Approach to Fisheries
Management (Ref. 12) requires the establishment of such benchmarks, as
well as contingency plans when acceptable levels are breached. Collaboration
among environmental scientists, aquaculture experts and development planners
will be required in many cases to successfully apply precautionary approaches
and to implement advance evaluations. However, it should be noted that even the
models available for the assessment and prediction of ecological impacts of
aquaculture wastes are usually highly site-specific, often quite sophisticated,
and, in most cases only applicable in temperate regions. Therefore,
cost-effective and rapid assessment methods are needed which can be applied
easily in tropical environments and developing countries. In general terms,
environmental scientists can help by clearly distinguishing between actual and
hypothetical environmental hazards resulting from aquaculture
(CCRF Article 9.1.3)
Aquaculture development and support planning. In many countries there is a continued need for aquaculture and planning authorities to produce and regularly update comprehensive plans for promoting, supporting, regulating, and reporting on the aquaculture sector. The plans should encompass all relevant aspects of support and management of the industry. (Ref. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18). Given the possible contributions of aquaculture to enhanced food supply and rural development in many countries, it may be very useful to design aquaculture development plans with due consideration of existing plans and efforts aiming at food security, sustainable agriculture and rural development. (Ref. 19, 20).
Development planning will involve, possibly in consultation with all interest groups, the setting of policies and objectives, determining and implementing of actions required, monitoring the sector's performance, and adjusting the aquaculture development plan. Good collaboration among those concerned will help identifying the type of data and information necessary for monitoring and planning.
Box 4. States are very diverse with respect to the
natural resources available for different types of aquaculture, as well as in
the degree of development of supporting infrastructure, the financial resources
available to provide specialist advice, training and other support to the
sector, and the strengths of local and regional markets. An aquaculture sector
study will establish the status of the sector, its performance and trends,
identify the opportunities and constraints within it, and identify options or
strategies for its development. Based on the sector study, a strategy for the
sector enables the government to define, or redefine, its objectives for the
sector and shows how these objectives are to be met, prioritizes activities, and
describes the range of policies and the policy instruments to be employed, such
as the criteria for the allocation of land and water, institutional changes,
promotion of appropriate technology use, etc. An aquaculture development plan
will take the planning process a stage further by setting out in some detail the
policy instruments to be employed, the financial, human and other resources
required, and the time frame in which planned activities will take
Assuring appropriate and responsible use of land and water resources. It should be ensured by aquaculture and planning authorities as well as by aquaculturists and investors that aquaculture activities are sited in locations which: are suitable for sustainable production and income generation; are economically and socially appropriate; prevent or minimize conflicts with other users of resources, and do not create undue externalities; respect nature reserves, protected areas, and critical or especially sensitive habitats.
Government authorities should also ensure that the privileges and needs of the aquaculture sector are recognized and respected by other users of land and water and, in particular, that aquafarms are not exposed to external environmental threats resulting from activities in other sectors that reduce quality and quantity of water, nutrient and biological resources required. Where applicable, zoning or site regulations should be specified to conform with the requirements of plans for regional development, river basin or coastal area management, and their respective authorities. (Ref. 21, 22, 23).
As generally done with agricultural and forestry activities, aquaculture and fishery enhancement practices should also be duly considered in planning and management of inland and coastal resources. (Ref. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39). In many countries there is a need for collaboration and capacity building in many areas relevant to resource use planning for aquaculture development, including application of resource assessment and monitoring methodologies, cross-sectoral resource use planning and management, environmental accounting, and mechanisms for conflict resolution and involvement of stakeholders in decision-making processes. Those who have special responsibilities and skills with respect to the development of aquaculture and other sectors should work together for the sustainable use of resources, maximizing wherever possible their complementarities.
For example, when reviewing and implementing water resource use policies (Ref. 40), it may well be worth considering benefits of existing and future aquaculture and inland fisheries developments. In particular, water allocation and pricing policies should address potential economic and social benefits of incorporating aquaculture and fishery enhancement practices. At the same time, most efforts aiming at the conservation of water resources and/or the protection of aquatic environments can and should be beneficial to fisheries and aquaculture, thereby increasing food security and generating some net economic gain for a local community, or in certain cases, a positive contribution to the economy of a given country.
Institutional capacity for the support of aquaculture. Primarily for historical reasons, the institutional frameworks used by States to develop and support their aquaculture sectors have usually grown out of their fishery, forestry or other natural resource institutions and organizations. While States may continue to find such arrangements practical, especially with respect to biological, marketing, and food quality aspects, they should also consider strengthening linkages with their institutions concerned with agriculture, rural development, irrigation, engineering and other sectors with which aquaculture activities have much in common (Ref. 41, 42, 43). In particular, collaboration between water development agencies and aquaculture and fishery administrations could be facilitated, which would help to identify common interests resulting in benefits to both sectors (Ref. 44). Aquaculture and fishery experts should be involved in the formulation of economic and legal instruments relating to water management (Ref. 45).
Promoting appropriate development and technology of aquaculture. It is the responsibility of every State to ensure that all development is appropriate, sustainable and in the public interest. Proposed aquaculture development activities are especially likely to be uncritically examined owing to the low level of experience in the sector in many countries. Government officials, in collaboration with aquaculture development experts, aquafarmers and aquaculture investors, should evaluate the possible benefits and consequences, including costs, of the introduction of new or different aquaculture products, methods or technologies to ascertain whether they are likely to contribute to increased food supply and rural development and/or to the economy and to the welfare of their citizens generally, or whether they may result in significant public burden such as abandoned capital investment, requirements for subsidy, or excessive demands on scarce or critical resources (land, water, feedstuffs) needed for more important products or activities. (Ref. 46, 47). In addition, government authorities and financial institutions concerned are encouraged to consider economic opportunity costs of aquaculture development and to assess whether the resources employed can be used with greater economic welfare elsewhere in the economy. Considerations of cost-effectiveness and benefit sharing can be instrumental in defining appropriate objectives of aquaculture development plans.
"States should ensure that the livelihoods of local communities, and their access to fishing grounds, are not negatively affected by aquaculture developments."
(CCRF Article 9.1.4)
Ensuring livelihood of local communities. Expanding food production in developing countries, particularly in low-income food deficit countries, can be one of the primary means to increase availability of food and income for those living in poverty. The livelihood of rural communities in inland and coastal areas of many countries depends on the capacity by the rural poor to produce food through a wide range of activities, which often include very diverse practices of terrestrial and aquatic farming, fishing and utilization of forest products. Aquaculture practices in most rural areas, and, increasingly also in peri-urban locations, have proven to contribute to enhanced and diversified food supply and income generation in most local communities. However, due consideration should be given to the need for all practices of food production to expand, intensify, specialize or diversify, in such a way that existing traditional practices are well integrated in such innovations (Ref. 48).
Aquaculture for local communities. For aquaculture practices to develop sustainably, and for the general benefit of local communities, it is important for government authorities to facilitate collaboration and constructive dialogues between aquafarmers or aquaculture developers and other stakeholders in local communities (Ref. 49). Access to fishing grounds should be guaranteed and, where necessary, regulated for the mutual benefit of fisheries, culture-based fisheries and aquaculture. Agreements should be fostered between aquafarmers and fisherfolk, to avoid conflicts over access to shared resources such as water, space and living aquatic resources. Large-scale aquaculture developments should be preceded by social and economic assessments, in order to identify options for involvement and benefit sharing among members of local communities, and to ensure long-term economic viability of such developments.
"States should establish effective procedures specific to aquaculture to undertake appropriate environmental assessment and monitoring with the aim of minimizing adverse ecological changes and related economic and social consequences resulting from water extraction, land use, discharge of effluents, use of drugs and chemicals, and other aquaculture activities."
(CCRF Article 9.1.5)
Ensuring acceptable levels of impact on the environment. Ideally, an information and management framework for the protection of inland and coastal environments and resources should be in place capable of detecting and predicting ecological changes resulting from all human activities in a given area. All environmental impact assessment and monitoring efforts should be guided by predetermined development priorities and well-formulated objectives for the management of resources and environments. (Ref. 50, 51, 52, 53).
However, in the interest of other farmers and water users, and the public in general, government authorities should establish procedures to undertake appropriate environmental impact assessments prior to establishing aquaculture farms, and to ensure adequate monitoring of water extraction, effluents, use of drugs and chemicals, and other farm activities that might adversely affect the surrounding lands and waters. Provisions for obtaining baseline data and for monitoring should normally be established in conjunction with the procedures used to grant and review permits to engage in aquaculture on a particular site. Environmental assessment and monitoring is an important area for collaboration by authorities, researchers and aquafarmers. Consultations among all concerned should ensure that procedures for environmental impact assessment and monitoring are sufficiently flexible, taking into account that scale and cost of such efforts may well have to be adjusted to the scale of the perceived impact of a given aquaculture operation. Criteria should be defined to establish which procedures for environmental impact assessment and monitoring would be required from the aquafarmers, when considered necessary. Proposed methods for environmental assessment and monitoring should be evaluated for their applicability to local conditions and site characteristics. (Ref. 54, 55, 56, 57).
Box 5. When formulating programmes or requirements
for environmental assessments and monitoring, due consideration should be given
to the diversity of aquaculture practices (including, in particular, the species
used and the culture methods applied) and their environmental settings. However,
in many cases, particular emphasis will need to be given to simplicity,
flexibility and affordability of environmental assessments and monitoring, in
order to facilitate the acceptance and enforcement of such measures.
Consultation and participation of interested and affected parties in the
formulation of requirements for environmental assessment and monitoring should
be encouraged. A detailed evaluation of financial, manpower and time
requirements for any such effort should precede their implementation to
demonstrate their cost-effectiveness and feasibility.