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Alien Species in Aquaculture: Considerations for responsible use

Hewitt, C.L., Campbell, M.L. and Gollasch, S. (2006) Alien Species in Aquaculture: Considerations for responsible use. IUCN The World Conservation Union.

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Aquaculture is an important economic activity in the coastal areas of many countries. It offers opportunities to alleviate poverty, boosts employment, helps community development, reduces overexploitation of natural coastal resources, and enhances food security, particularly in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Due to the increasing worldwide demand for aquatic products, aquaculture is one of the most important and fastest growing sectors within fisheries. Currently most aquaculture facilities in the marine environment, particularly in developing countries, use non-native or alien species, mainly to reduce costs by using readily available research and development outputs.

With the rising awareness about the ecological and economic impacts caused by alien species around the world, several international policy instruments are calling for the application of the precautionary approach and are discouraging the deliberate introduction of alien species for aquaculture purposes.

The reality faced by many developing countries is that there are few incentives for using native species; research and development costs are very high and creating markets for new native species might take a long time, besides being a risky business. Many developing economies have opted for the continued use of alien species in aquaculture in response to the strong pressure to improve livelihoods, advance societies and grow economies.

The Government of Chile recognizes the threats posed by alien invasive species, but also recognises the significant societal benefits associated with aquaculture. IUCN and the Chilean Government, through its Under-secretariat for Fisheries, joined forces in implementing a project entitled “Addressing alien species in Aquaculture systems”, funded by the TOTAL Corporate Foundation for Biodiversity and the Sea. The project was an interesting experience that looked into finding pragmatic solutions to the most pressing conservation and development challenges in implementing responsible aquaculture. It aimed to reduce threats posed by alien species use in aquaculture systems by providing methodologies to assess the risk of invasions, and to control and manage escapes and invasions when they occur.

We wanted to share some of the results of this project and go beyond it, also summarising other experiences in dealing with the use of alien species in aquaculture. We have hence commissioned this publication also asking the authors to provide some “simple” sets of guidelines for use by decision makers, with consideration of the special needs of developing countries.

This publication aims to first provide decision makers and managers with information on the existing international and regional regulations that address the use of alien species in aquaculture, either directly or indirectly; and three examples of national responses to this issue.

The last section of this document provides some considerations and suggestions to be taken into account by decision makers and managers when using -or deciding on the use of- alien species for aquaculture purposes. The considerations put forward here bear in mind the challenges faced by decision makers when reconciling conservation and development needs, and aim to help them find pragmatic solutions to ensure a responsible use of alien species for aquaculture purposes, should they decide to go down that path.

The IUCN Global Marine Programme will be pleased to receive comments on this publication and hear about your experience in this domaine.

Item Type: Book
Publisher: IUCN The World Conservation Union
Copyright: © 2006 International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
Notes: IUCN Global Marine Programme
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