ICES Annual Science Conference 2022

Theme session Q

Sustainable aquaculture in a changing world

Monday 19 September 15:00 - 17:00
Vavasour wing I

​​Aquaculture is a key industry in the provision of high quality food and a low carbon source of animal protein. However, significant challenges remain in further reducing the environmental impact while managing sustainable development. 

Session format

Our session focusses on three key areas of climate change, environmental impacts and production challenges using an open 'fish bowl' format to facilitate an interactive discussion session among participants.

The open fish bowl will allow all the session participants to take one of five seats in the “bowl” to share their interventions on the topic at hand. One of the seats will be available to the online participants, represented by a member of ICES Secretariat. We therefore request that all participants, in person and online, come prepared with their thoughts on the challenges of reduction of environmental impacts, and the management of sustainable development.

Session topics

​Aquaculture (the production of finfish, mollusc and seaweed) has the potential to play an increasingly important role in global food security. In Europe and North America, development of aquaculture has been possible due to advances in technology and improved husbandry practices, making aquaculture not only a key industry in the provision of high quality food, but one of the more sustainable and low carbon sources of animal protein. However, significant challenges remain in further reducing the impact of an expanding industry on the coastal environment and managing the increased competition for use of the coastal zone.

This session looks at how aquaculture is meeting these challenges, how recent technological and best practice developments have transformed food production and how aquaculture can exist in harmony with other users of the coastal zone.​

The session provides an opportunity to review the latest advances in sustainable aquaculture and to discuss the issues of anthropogenic environmental change on these processes. Papers are invited to discuss themes on adaption of aquaculture and research gaps in aquaculture practices in face of changing environment. Water quality, changing culture practices, adaption and mitigation and cost effective tools to provide solutions and responses to these changes. 

This theme session will assimilate applied and theoretical understanding to the aquaculture industry by highlighting adaption strategies necessary to ensure practical sustainability solutions for this vulnerable front line sector.

Topics that will be addressed include:

  1. Potential short term and long term impacts of climate change on aquaculture sustainability.
  2. Adaption and mitigation options in Aquaculture practices.
  3. Impact of climate change on the HABs, parasites and infectious diseases of aquaculture species
  4. Sustainable practices in fisheries and aquaculture sector to reduce GHG emissions.

Aquaculture, being the fastest-growing food production sector globally is a vital contribution to the mitigation of unsustainable harvests from capture fisheries. It is also seen as the primary solution to meeting the rising demand for animal protein as food and other aquatic products globally. Such aquatic sources of protein provide vital nutrition for 3 billion people and about half of globally produced animal protein and micronutrients to 400 million people in the poorest countries of the world. As one of the cheapest sources of animal proteins, fish and shellfish are a critical source of nutrition globally.  Despite the recognised critical importance of aquaculture, it is increasingly being threatened by human-driven climate change effects that are both a present and future reality. Sustainable development parallel to climate challenges continues to be a positive goal in all aquaculture activities, and the achievement of this is dependent on improved management, technology and improved husbandry practices.

Total fish production has continued to increase during recent years on a global scale. The contribution from capture fisheries however, has remained largely static since the late 1980s with the increase in production being accounted for by dramatic growth in the aquaculture sector.  Climate change in recent years has resulted in a threat to aquaculture sustainability by a range of biotic and abiotic forces that left unmanaged will cause significant change in the performance and productivity of farmed species. These include shifts in geographical and seasonal ranges, disease pathogen and parasite risk, spat settlement growth and survival, harmful algal blooms and threats arising from non-native species competition at aquaculture sites. There are also potential changes likely to the assimilative capacity and carrying capacity of both inshore and offshore waters affecting potential aquaculture siting.

​Sustainable practices are also critical in developing nations where freshwater, brackish and marine aquaculture provide a significant contribution to national food production and resolving insufficient marine fisheries landings due to due to the over exploitation of capture fishing activities. Combinations of environmental pollution and climate change are identified in many studies as a serious threat to aquaculture development in these regions. However, while freshwater production is most vulnerable in eastern Asian countries, and brackish production in tropical regions, Norway and Chile are most vulnerable to marine production, with certain East Asian regions also impacted.

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Theme session Q

International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) · Conseil International pour l'Exploration de la Mer (CIEM)
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