Based on the current needs for sustainable resource use of fisheries, we find that environmentally-friendly practices of aquaculture are important issues that should be addressed in the Caribbean. With this in mind, we carried out a discussion session on December 9, 2010 with local stakeholders and experts to share their insights on novel research and to identify the type of information that is needed to better current aquaculture methods that promote sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices. The obstacles that are frequently encountered in the development and/or process of aquaculture practices were also discussed.
In general, most participants were extremely displeased with the process of obtaining permits to practice aquaculture from federal agencies. Interagency communication and collaboration was recommended to improve the process of evaluation and approval of aquaculture projects. Re-evaluation of past projects that were unsuccessful was also suggested to identify the problems that were encountered. Emphasis was also made to establish specific parameters, indices and standards for sustainable, environmentally-friendly aquaculture practices.
Some critical areas of research and information needed for establishing aquaculture practices in Puerto Rico were suggested:
- Identify and optimize local coastal areas for offshore aquaculture (marine spatial planning) that should be pre-designated using information
- Determine oceanographic requisites for installations and environmental characteristics particular for aquaculture practices around the island.
- Inventory of all the species for aquaculture based on experience or need and stress more research on these species.
- Research should be conducted on the parasites and diseases affecting commercially important species.
- Impacts of marine aquaculture on benthic habitats and how to mitigate the effects.
- Assess why aquaculture projects have been rejected and what research is needed to address the issues.
- Studies on the socio-economic impacts of aquaculture species on local communities.
- Studies that evaluate the viability of aquaculture methods, especially on an economic level.
- Identify/prioritize important molluscan species (conch, oysters, clams, etc.) since these filter and clean coastal waters, shellfish mariculture is environmentally friendly.
- Develop an information network/portal to share critical data/information among stakeholders
- Develop an aquaculture strategic plan.
Obstacles that are frequently encountered in aquaculture practices:
- Industry helps define research needs. Without an active industry, we are limited in our understanding of problems that research could help resolve.
- The absence of a list for culturing native species.
- The large amount of effort/funds needed to obtain permits is one of the biggest obstacles.
- Not identifying past errors in aquaculture projects that were unsuccessful and using that information to improve future projects.
- Resistance from some stakeholders towards designating potential areas for aquaculture (mostly due to personal interests).
- Lack of communication between stakeholders about the latest projects.
For more details on the comments made by this group, please download our full report here.
For more information about aquaculture practices, check out the links below:
Status Report on Caribbean Aquaculture (1993) – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Latin America and Caribbean Chapter – World Aquaculture Society – an international non-profit organization that aims “to strengthen and facilitate communication and information exchange on high priority topics and emerging issues within the diverse global aquaculture community”.
Hernández-Rodríguez, A., Alceste-Oliviero, C., Sanchez, R., Jory, D., Vidal, L. & Constain-Franco, L.-F. 2001. Aquaculture development trends in Latin America and the Caribbean. In R.P. Subasinghe, P. Bueno, M.J. Phillips, C. Hough, S.E. McGladdery & J.R. Arthur, eds. Aquaculture in the Third Millennium. Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium, Bangkok, Thailand, 20-25 February 2000. pp. 317-340. NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome.