No. 76

Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific
Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection


Rome, 2008

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ISBN 978-92-5-105947-0
ISSN 1020-4873

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Key words: coastal aquaculture, environmental risk, assessment, communication, risk analysis, GESAMP.


This GESAMP study focuses on environmental risk assessment and communication in coastal aquaculture. To support effectively an open and transparent approach to sustainable resource use, risk assessment and communication must be able to fit within a broader social, economic and environmental decision-making framework. The communication aspects become paramount in enabling sustainable development in that type of decision-making environment. In today抯 environmentally conscientious societies, no activity is truly sustainable without social licence. Scientific knowledge has to be developed, presented and communicated in a manner that fully acknowledges the extent and limits of our ability to predict the consequence of development. This applies at all scales, from development of a single aquaculture farm site to the development of a number of sites that may have a cumulative effect that cannot be predicted on the basis of the activities at a single site, and to the initiation of an entirely new industry.

This publication presents a set of objectives, goals, methodologies and a checklist for assessment and communication of environmental risks which may be associated with coastal aquaculture. It is structured to improve risk communication and to ensure that risk assessment is a scientific exercise in predicting environmental change. Suggestions are given on how socio-economic values can be used with environmental risk assessment in open and transparent decision-making for questions of resource allocation. In addition, the risk assessment methodologies are designed to present a clear picture of the role of uncertainty in prediction error. This approach to risk assessment also helps target mitigation and research efforts to ensure knowledge of the causes and effects of environmental interactions of coastal aquaculture.

A set of six case studies is also presented to illustrate the use of the environmental risk assessment methodologies in coastal aquaculture. These examples of environmental interactions span a range of cultured species from fin fish to molluscs and shrimp. The type of effects studied includes effects on carrying capacity, phytoplankton, kelp, benthic fauna, the genome of wild fishes and salinisation of soils.



Part I  (Download pdf 409 kb)

Preparation of this study
Members of GESAMP Working Group 31 on Environmental
   Impacts of Coastal Aquaculture

Executive summary

Part II

Chapter 1 – Introduction  (Download pdf 144 kb)
1.1  Coastal aquaculture in a global fisheries context
1.2  The scope of the report
1.3  Literature cited
Chapter 2 – Environmental interactions and impacts,  (Download pdf 177 kb)
                   risks and uncertainties associated with coastal aquaculture
2.1  Environmental interactions and impacts of coastal aquaculture
2.2  Global experience of environmental management of aquaculture
2.3  Risk and uncertainty
2.4  A precautionary approach
2.5  Interpretation and application of the Precautionary Principle
2.6  Objectives for risk assessment and analysis
2.7  Literature cited
Chapter 3 – Risk analysis  (Download pdf 435 kb)
3.1  What is risk analysis?
3.2  The structure of risk analysis
3.3  Risk communication
3.4  How can risk analysis contribute to the decision-making process
       and sustainable development
3.5  The advantages of risk analysis over other decision-support frameworks
3.6  Literature cited
Chapter 4 – Risk analysis in practice for coastal aquaculture  (Download pdf 460 kb)
4.1  Overview of hazards and undesirable endpoints
4.2  Hazard identification
4.3  Endpoints
4.4  Logic models
4.5  Risk assessment structure
4.6  Risk management and mitigation
4.7  Literature cited
4.8  Annex: Principles and checklist for environmental risk assessment
Chapter 5 – Risk Communication
5.1  Introduction  (Download: 5.1 ­ 5.2 ­ 5.3 ­ 5.4 pdf 372 kb)
5.2  Risk communication objectives
5.3  The need for better communication
5.4  Learning from past experience
5.5  Developing a Communication strategy  (Download: 5.5 ­ 5.6 pdf 450 kb)
5.6  The operational dimension of communication with participants and the media
5.7  Engagement and communication tools  (Download: 5.7 pdf 676 kbpdf 669 kb)
5.8  Concluding remarks  (Download: 5.8 ­ 5.9 ­ 5.10 pdf 93 kb)
5.9  Literature cited
5.10 Annex: Principles and checklist for risk communication
Chapter 6 – Case Studies
6.1  Fish farming effects on benthic  (Download: pdf 467 kb pdf 765 kb pdf 309 kb)
       community changes due to sedimentation - K. Black and C. Cromey

6.2  Risk assessment of the potential decrease  (Download: pdf 676 kb pdf 669 kb)
       of carrying capacity by shellfish farming - C. Bacher and E.A. Black

6.3  Risk analysis of the potential interbreeding of wild  (Download pdf 590 kb)
       and escaped farmed cod (Gadus morhua Linnaeus) - I. M. Davies,
       C. Greathead and E.A. Black

6.4  Risk analysis of the decline of  (Download: pdf 454 kb pdf 600 kb pdf 403 kb)
       laminariales due to fish farming waste - R. Petrell, P. Harisson and E.A. Black

6.5  Risk analysis of the soil salinisation due to low-salinity  (Download pdf 682 kb)
       shrimp farming in central plain of Thailand - Seng-Keh Teng

6.6  Risk analysis of coastal aquaculture: potential effects on  (Download pdf 915 kb)
       algal blooms - K. Yin, P. Harrisson and E.A. Black