“Risk” has been defined as “a combination of the severity of consequences and likelihood of occurrence of undesired outcomes”, and “hazard” as “the presence of a material or condition that has the potential for causing loss or harm”. No matter how well managed a system is, there will always be associated hazards and risks.
The process of risk analysis is driven by multiple objectives for resource protection as embodied in a number of international agreements and responsibilities. Examples include the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and Codex Alimentarius. The principal components of a risk analysis process are illustrated in the diagram.
When applying any risk analysis, all people at risk should be included. Civil society dialogue and public–private partnerships should be promoted. The use and dissemination of reliable scientific information should be an integral part of risk management. At the national level, enabling legal and policy environments that support the application of risk assessments and management measures should be promoted. In order to understand more clearly the risks, hazards and vulnerabilities; to develop methods to assess them as well as study the connections between the different risk events and patterns; and to identify integrated approaches to risk management, awareness raising and capacity building will be necessary and should be treated as matters of priority, especially for developing countries.
Key challenges in applying risk analysis to aquaculture are the inadequacy of scientific information, both in terms of quality and quantity, and the lack of appropriate methodology.