Aquaculture Improvement Projects
An Aquaculture Improvement Project (AIP) is an alliance of producers, processors, suppliers, and buyers working together to address sustainability issues in a fish-farming region. Within that region (typically a province within a country), we work with the industry to identify workable “zones” where collaboration may be possible among the producers and processors. The zone may be a common water input/discharge source (canal, river, aquifer, reservoir); a government-designated administrative division such as a development plan area or “park”; and/or a geographic feature such as an island, valley, or coastal area.
AIPs are designed to bring all stakeholders together to recognize their responsibilities and take actions to improve the environmental and social quality of the production zone. Key actions include understanding and implementing carrying capacity models, agreeing on specific control measures to deal with disease outbreaks, and developing market incentives for improvements.
SFP's role is to engage, inform, educate, and empower the supply chain to work together to solve collective regional farming environmental issues that not only impact local lives and livelihoods but also may have negative impacts on continuity of supply, as well as perceived quality concerns in the marketplace. The dialogue process bringing all stakeholders together within an AIP is called an Aquaculture Policy Roundtable (APR). The APR has a local focus initially, but as action is demonstrated at the local level this is built out to a national level. Each APR has a scientific advisory team and this team too grows from local universities to engaging national research systems with agendas driven by the needs of the industry.
AIPs complement national aquaculture laws and regulations, as well as better practices as defined in various international aquaculture standards. Depending upon the species and region, an AIP will have a number of specific objectives aimed at identifying and mitigating negative environmental impacts and also preventing catastrophic failures which have occurred in the past, such as bacterial and viral diseases (e.g., infectious salmon anemia) in Chilean salmon and white spot disease in tiger shrimp. An AIP takes a holistic approach to regional oversight and thus includes taking into account the collective and cumulative impacts of all farms within a region, whether certified to an international standard or not. An AIP is not a certification or an eco-label.
Prior to launching an AIP, regional assessments are carried out to understand environmental impacts and issues within a designated farming area. This information is used to prioritize improvements by the AIP, as well as to advise major players in the supply chain about the role they can play in the AIP. Sometimes, the results of the assessment indicate that issues can be addressed adequately through improvements by individual farms. In those cases, SFP itself does not implement an AIP. Instead, SFP advises major buyers to engage with and support the work of other organizations that are working to improve individual farms in the region (e.g., certification standards, technical extension programs).
The primary aim of an SFP zonal AIP is to reduce the cumulative and combined impacts of aquaculture practices that can arise from poor water usage practices, over-density of farms, incorrect (inappropriate) zoning/siting, inefficient feed management, and insufficient coordination of disease treatment. AIPs can also serve as forums in which farmers share lessons learned regarding better practices and can work together to press for improvements in other sectors that impact their operations, such as nonpoint source pollution from upstream agriculture or industry.
The SFP zonal AIP program works with key aquaculture species that are marketed commercially, with a current focus on those that are consumed in North American and European core markets where there is a strong demand for sustainability, such as tilapia, pangasius, shrimp, and salmon. Click here
for more on SFP's approach.