WGSEDA, formerly the Study Group on Socio-Economic Dimensions of aquaculture (SGSA), places special focus on the identification of the direct socio-economic benefits of aquaculture through its supply of highly nutritious foods and other commercially valuable products whilst providing jobs and creating incomes.
The numbers of people engaged in aquaculture ancillary activities such as processing, farm construction, manufacturing of processing equipment, packaging, marketing, and distribution can be substantial. Indeed, estimates indicate that, for each person employed in the aquaculture industry, about three other jobs can be created in secondary activities. Despite these clear benefits, aquaculture also competes for economic, social, physical, and ecological resources and can also result in environmental degradation. Its development may therefore generate negative impacts on other industries and people's livelihoods (e.g. fisheries, agriculture, and tourism).
Decisions about aquaculture development are often based on incomplete information, particularly in relation to socio-economic dimensions. Consequently, inadequate accounts of how trade-offs are associated with different development options are made. Thus, any anticipated and much needed socio-economic benefits from aquaculture expansion may come at the expense of increased and possible unsustainable pressure on ecosystem goods and services, ultimately jeopardizing people's food security and livelihoods. Additionally in some cases, benefits derived from aquaculture systems are moving away from the local communities directly affected by aquaculture to stakeholders operating at a global market level.
The search for resilient solutions in the aquaculture sector to meeting production, income, community development, and food supply and security needs will be critical for the ICES countries and their global partners.
Photo courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)