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Aquaculture Legal Assessment and Revision Tool

While the aquaculture sector has seen extraordinary global growth over recent years, it also faces a number of important challenges. Although aquaculture may reduce pressure on wild fish stocks, the fact remains that the sector can also have a range of negative environmental impacts. At the same time, a degraded environment, in particular poor water quality, can adversely affect the health of aquatic animals and plants used in aquaculture and therefore the economic sustainability of the sector. Moreover, if appropriate bio-security measures, in the sense of measures to protect aquatic animal health, aquatic plant health and human health, are not in place (or are not implemented), the sector can be subject to devastating disease outbreaks. It follows that the legal framework for aquaculture should support the development of the sector while at the same time promoting its long term environmental, social and economic sustainability. This requires a balancing act. Overly burdensome legislation may discourage or otherwise hinder investment. At the same time, insufficient regulation may encourage indiscriminate and substandard operations that lead to uncontrollable disease outbreaks, irreparable environmental damage and the economic failure of aquaculture operations with ensuing social costs. Unlike capture fishing, which is regulated largely if not exclusively on the basis of a fisheries law, the legal framework for aquaculture is invariably diverse and complex. Some aspects of aquaculture are addressed in legislation that has aquaculture as its specific or primary focus, such as a chapter in a fisheries law or a stand-alone aquaculture law (described in this document as ‘aquaculture legislation’).

Hodgson, S.
Policy Theme