Aquaculture now supplies the majority of seafood consumed internationally, filling the gap between growing global demand and the limit for capture fisheries. The industry has developed rapidly in the last 40 years to produce significant volumes of higher-value species like salmon and shrimp, although the bulk of production is still low-impact species like carp, seaweed, and bivalve mollusks. Aquaculture has faced challenges because of rapid growth: environmental impacts, social challenges, and disease management disasters.
The market has responded by supporting certification approaches that address many of the best practices that farms need to implement. Three major international standards (GlobalG.A.P. Aquaculture Standard, Global Aquaculture Alliance Best Aquaculture Practices, and Aquaculture Stewardship Council standards), along with key national standards in major producing countries, identify and reward the best performers. These standards do not address structural issues in industry planning and management or the cumulative risks and impacts of aquaculture seen in many major producing countries. They also do not actively engage the poorest performers or smaller-scale producers, although some, more inclusive, group certification approaches have been developed.
SFP advocates a zonal approach to aquaculture management. The zonal approach requires scientific evidence to inform aquaculture planning and management policy supported by effective enforcement. It also requires engagement from organized zones of large- and small-scale aquaculture farmers during the production process and in emergency disease outbreak situations. This coordinated management of aquaculture is designed to help minimize some of the boom and bust seen in aquaculture industries, improving the image, quality, value, and overall sustainability of this rapidly growing industry.
At the zone level, the local industry is engaged in aquaculture improvement projects (AIPs). An AIP brings together buyers, producers, processors, and regulators/managers in specific zones to deliver the core elements of zonal management to minimize cumulative impact and shared disease risks. This could be through local dialogue platforms, information sharing agreements, and standardized implementation of farm best management practices. Current AIPs focus on shrimp, tilapia, and pangasius.
Countries coordinate aquaculture zonal regulation and management through a range of institutions. For simplicity, we gather these together under the term National Aquaculture Policy Platforms (NAPPs). The strongest industry engagement with NAPPs will come from AIPs, given their national importance, but the international market will engage with NAPPs to encourage improvement towards zonal management.
Groups of major seafood buyers, organized by commodity and geography, come together in supply chain roundtables (SRs) to review the critical issues that need to be addressed and support the development of appropriate improvements to move aquaculture industries towards sustainability. Sometimes they engage in specific AIPs, but they can also dialogue with NAPPs to tackle issues relevant to the overall management of national aquaculture industries.