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3. Responsible development of aquaculture including culture-based fisheries within transboundary aquatic ecosystems (CCRF Article 9.2)

"States should protect transboundary aquatic ecosystems by supporting responsible aquaculture practices within their national jurisdiction and by cooperation in the promotion of sustainable aquaculture practices."

(CCRF Article 9.2.1)

Protecting transboundary aquatic ecosystems. Many river and lake basins, and their respective catchment areas, enclosed and semi-enclosed seas as well as other coastal and marine waters are being shared by two or more countries. Consequences of human activities such as habitat degradation and pollution of these waters are often being experienced within a given country as well as beyond its boundaries in downstream areas, along coasts or in larger inland and marine water bodies. For example, in many countries inland capture and culture-based fisheries have suffered from environmental degradation of perennial and seasonal water bodies. Changes in water quality, changes in hydrological regimes (excessive fluctuations or net decline of water levels/volumes both spatially and temporally), and structural modifications of fish habitats, have affected many inland fisheries, especially in rural areas where fishing at artisanal and subsistence levels often contributes to food security.

There are numerous international agreements in place, or being developed, aiming at the environmental protection of transboundary aquatic ecosystems (Ref. 58). However, since some practices in aquaculture and culture-based fisheries may have potentially adverse effects on transboundary aquatic ecosystems, if not managed properly, it is important that government authorities, fishery managers and aquafarmers are aware of such potential risks.

For example, government authorities, aquafarmers and fishery managers have a special obligation to minimize the risks of introducing non-native species or genetically altered stocks used for aquaculture or culture-based fisheries into waters where there is a significant risk for spreading into the waters of other states. The accidental or intentional introduction of exotic or non-native species to any waters should be avoided to the extent possible, but when deemed desirable for purposes of aquaculture or fisheries enhancement, a thorough study of alternatives and potential risks should be undertaken prior to the introduction. In this context, precautionary attitudes and measures should be encouraged, whether for national or transboundary aquatic ecosystems, and collaboration, especially exchange of information, between countries concerned can be crucial to prevent undesirable impacts.

Support to and collaboration on sustainable aquaculture. While responsibilization of aquafarmers should be pursued at national levels, there is much scope for collaboration on sustainable aquaculture among countries sharing transboundary aquatic ecosystems, for example, at sub-regional or regional levels. Government authorities, private sector associations, researchers, and others, in different countries may find it useful to join efforts in the promotion of sustainable aquaculture development. Such efforts could include technology development and transfer, development and implementation of contingency measures, exchange of marketing information, capacity building in the aquaculture sector, applied research on socio-economic and environmental issues, etc. (Ref. 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65).

"States should, with due respect to their neighbouring States, and in accordance with international law, ensure responsible choice of species, siting and management of aquaculture activities which could affect transboundary aquatic ecosystems."

(CCRF Article 9.2.2)

General Responsibilities. States with aquaculture activities in or bordering international waters should accept the obligation to their neighbouring States to ensure responsible choice of species, siting and management of those activities.

Choice of species. Choice of species for aquaculture and culture-based fisheries should be based on biological, environmental and socio-economic criteria, depending on local resources, opportunities and needs. Culture-based fisheries deserve special attention because the purpose of aquaculture is to produce an organism that survives in nature. However, it should be noted that even in contained aquaculture systems, organisms generally escape into the environment.

Several fora have recommended the use of native species over introduced species and the use of conventional breeding programmes over the use of trans-genic technologies for aquaculture. Governments should be aware of the biological resources and the human communities that depend on them that may be impacted by the use of an introduced or genetically modified organism. Probable or potential routes of dispersion should also be known for aquatic species.

Surveying distribution of introduced species. Once a species has been introduced into a country, national efforts should be made to control or monitor its distribution. There may be environmentally sensitive areas where the species should not be allowed to be cultured or areas where there would be a high probability of the species escaping into transboundary waters. These areas should be identified and local governments, aquafarmers, and the industry should be made aware of the restrictions governing movement and use. These considerations and restrictions should be part of the prior evaluation and risk assessment.

Siting and management. Governments should ensure that aquafarms are sited and managed such that adverse effects on environments and resources of other States are avoided. Particular care should be taken to prevent disease outbreaks associated with aquaculture species which may affect fisheries resources and aquaculture operations in other States. Governments should inform each other in the event of outbreaks of epizootic diseases in aquaculture species which are likely to be transmitted throughout transboundary ecosystems, and collaborate on the development of relevant contingency measures at sub-regional and regional levels.

"States should consult with their neighbouring States, as appropriate, before introducing non-indigenous species into transboundary aquatic ecosystems."

(CCRF Article 9.2.3)

Role of regional fisheries bodies. Neighbouring countries should seek to establish effective mechanisms and procedures for consultation on introductions of non-indigenous species. However, in many areas with shared water bodies regional fisheries bodies exist and provide excellent fora for the exchange of information, expertise and personnel. Where no regional body or arrangement exists, there exists the potential to create one (Ref. 66). Consultation on the introduction of genetically modified organisms should also be pursued. The definition of "non-indigenous", in broadest sense of the term, should include organisms that are the product of domestication, selective breeding, chromosome manipulation, hybridization, sex-reversal, and gene transfer. Items for consultation and exchange among neighbouring states should include, inter alia,

"States should establish appropriate mechanisms, such as databases and information networks to collect, share and disseminate data related to their aquaculture activities to facilitate cooperation on planning for aquaculture development at the national, subregional, regional and global level."

(CCRF Article 9.2.4)

Information sharing in aquaculture. Especially during this period of global growth in aquaculture, States, in collaboration with interested partners, should develop appropriate means to monitor their aquaculture activities, and also to facilitate policy formulation and development planning, through the collection of information and data relating to their aquaculture farming practices and production, their economic performance and their positive and negative effects on other activities. Collaboration with, and among aquafarmers, their associations, input suppliers, product processors and traders, and other private initiatives interested in the aquaculture sector, may need to be further strengthened, in order to improve data acquisition and collection as well as collation, analysis, interpretation, dissemination and appropriate use of information and data (Ref. 67). Importantly, in many countries there is an urgent need to strengthen or develop appropriate library services. The flow of information relevant to aquaculture among various sectoral agencies and authorities, whether primarily or partly concerned with aquaculture development aspects, can be facilitated through adequate institutional linkages. Acting through the appropriate regional and international bodies of which they are members, States should share relevant data to permit regional and global monitoring of progress and problems, facilitate policy making, and permit forecasting of opportunities and needs. (Ref. 68).

Box 6. Users of aquaculture data and information are diverse in nature and include, for example, aquafarmers, policy makers, researchers, those working in the food sector and animal feed and health industries, concerned NGOs, those concerned with food security, development and resource planning, etc. The demand for global, regional and national aquaculture data is growing rapidly. In addition to production statistics there is a need for data on structural aspects of the sector such as areas under cultivation, types and capacities of production systems, resource use (e.g. land, water, feed components, seed, etc.), and employment in the aquaculture sector and its allied services. Also growing is the strong interest in information on domestic and international demand for aquaculture products, including consumption patterns, product prices, trade, market opportunities, etc.

Regional cooperation in the exchange of aquaculture knowledge. Efforts should be supported by governmental and other institutions or initiatives to enhance cooperation, especially at regional and sub-regional levels, in capacity building and research on aquaculture systems most suitable to their regions, and in the elaboration of mechanisms and protocols for the exchange of knowledge, experience and technical assistance in support of sustainable development of those systems. (Ref. 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74).

"States should cooperate in the development of appropriate mechanisms, when required, to monitor the impacts of inputs used in aquaculture."

(CCRF Article 9.2.5)

Collaboration on fair trade in equipment, feeds, and other inputs used in aquaculture. Owing to the somewhat specialized requirements of aquaculture for equipment and supplies, and the limited quantities presently needed or available in several regions, there is a need for enhanced cooperation in establishing production facilities, and for promotion of trade in such equipment and supplies within and between regions. At the same time, adequate regulatory mechanisms should be put in place to monitor and guarantee the appropriateness and quality of materials produced and traded. Related measures designed to protect human or aquatic life or health, and the interests of consumers, should not be discriminatory and should be in accordance with internationally agreed trade rules, in particular the principles, rights and obligations established in the WTO Agreement. Access to and exchange of information on effectiveness and safety of inputs used in aquaculture should be facilitated at local, national, regional and global level.

Box 7. States and their authorities have a key role to play in identifying and supporting sound aquaculture production approaches, and should, for these purposes, collaborate with other States and international institutions and initiatives. However, sometimes there is uncertainty about sound criteria for appropriateness of imported technology and for efficient utilization of equipment, feeds and other inputs. The use of high technology systems for either seed production or growout, self-contained production "packages" or "turn-key units", or unfamiliar species or other unfamiliar components, in some cases have been found to be prone to failure. If a probable need to import replacement parts, supplies or expertise to maintain such systems is identified, these may be unsustainable in the long-term. Importantly, the use of non-native species for culture should be examined very carefully, but may be justifiable, for example, if likely to contribute to food security; this would require that they are readily marketable, their culture in locally appropriate farming systems is well understood, and that there are no suitable native species or varieties.

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