Resilience of Communities and Sustainable Aquaculture: Governance and Regulatory Effects
One of the key underlying principles of sustainable food and agriculture systems is to enhance the resilience of people, communities, and ecosystems. This paper discusses broadly the intersection of community resiliency and sustainability of our food system through the lens of positive and negative contributions of aquaculture within the context of the underlying environmental, economic, social, and governance dimensions. Aquaculture has been part of the food supply system for humans for millennia, and its contributions to the resiliency of communities and to sustainability is critical to meet the nutritional, economic, and ecological challenges of the world. Aquaculture, as any human endeavor, can result in negative impacts on the environment, economy, social structure, and resilience of communities. Recent work has reported continued progress in the sustainability of aquaculture and dispelled myths that have proliferated in public media. As a result, aquaculture is increasingly viewed as a potential solution to global challenges of supplying a sustainably raised protein source, complementing fishing and other activities in communities, improving water quality, and responding to climate change, among others. Communities face ever more complex pressures that affect their resiliency when confronted with an array of environmental, social, and economic challenges. Whether aquaculture enhances or decreases the resilience of communities depends largely on the regulatory framework and associated public governance policies at local, state/provincial and national levels. In locales where aquaculture is under-regulated, communities can be affected negatively from resulting environmental, economic, and social problems. Over-regulation of aquaculture can stifle aquaculture activities that enhance ecosystem services and provide social and economic benefits. Greater attention is needed to aquaculture governance and regulatory processes to ensure that rulemaking, implementation, and enforcement provide adequate oversight, but avoid unintended negative consequences to the environment, social networks, and local economies. Participatory approaches that entail effective engagement among regulatory agency staff, aquaculture producers, local citizens, and other stakeholders are more effective than command-and-control regulatory approaches. Aquaculture, when practiced responsibly and sustainably by farmers and when appropriate science-based regulations are implemented rationally and efficiently, can enhance the resiliency of communities.