“We want aquaculture producers for the next 50 years and more” says WWF chief
Speaking at the international aquaculture business conference, AquaVision 2004, Dr. Jason Clay, Vice President of the Center for Conservation Innovation of WWF-US, told his audience that it was not the aim of WWF to put aquaculture producers out of business but to help them be viable in 25 to 50 years’ time.
“Aquaculture is the fastest growing form of food production, which is why it attracts our attention. We want to work with resource users to help them reduce impacts. We understand that zero is not possible and we acknowledge aquaculture is here to stay.” Citing as an example the production of shrimps, he said there are cases where aquaculture is clearly a preferable option.
Referring to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), where no fishing or aquaculture would be allowed, he pointed out that the proposal of No-Go areas clearly implied the acceptance of Go areas. This, he said, was something that a number of NGOs still have to accept.
Dr Clay explained the WWF approach of dialogue with stakeholders to define the issues then helping those involved to develop the means for continual improvement programmes; developing better management practices (BMPs) for the top six to eight issues first before moving on to others. “Improvements in BMPs usually pay for themselves in two to three years,” said Dr Clay.
Key issues for net pen finfish aquaculture
“WWF’s initial investigations of net pen finfish aquaculture show the key issues include the siting of farms, escapes and the inherent inefficiency of a production system based on carnivores,” said Dr Clay. “Because aquaculture is growing fast the most urgent matter is to develop better feed systems with increased use of vegetable raw materials combined with fishmeal and fish oil only from sustainable resources.” He advised the aquaculture industry to consider looking for expertise from other industries to help solve their problems, adding that WWF is willing to work with aquaculture companies in developing BMPs, reducing impacts and making aquaculture more sustainable.