Around the world, almost 19 million people were employed in the aquaculture sector in 2012, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. Ninety percent of these are small-scale fish producers in developing countries, mostly in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Many of these fish farmers lack access to the latest technology and knowledge of best practices, thus having an impact on sustainability in this crucial sector.
The Australian government’s Blue Economy Challenge (BEC), which launched in February, aims to improve productivity and ocean health in the Indian Ocean.
“As much of the world’s aquaculture is taking place in developing countries, it is essential that these farms are productive, economically and environmentally sustainable and that farmers can benefit from the latest technological and scientific advances”
said Stephanie Kimber, BEC programme manager and innovation officer at innovationXchange, DFAT.
Aquaculture has great potential to contribute to food security, nutrition, livelihoods and economic growth. But if the industry’s growth is at the expense of ocean health and conservation, then developing countries will not harvest long term social and economic benefits.
The challenge, which offers A$3 million in prize money, calls for innovators, entrepreneurs, designers, NGOs and academics to rethink advances in aquaculture to provide solutions that ensure both sustainable development and environmental sustainability.