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Myth #9
Aquaculture facilities destroy traditional forms of farming

Aquaculture has been criticized for negatively impacting traditional land (and water) use. What does this mean? Definitions of traditional land use vary, but generally they refer to a specific area of land (or water) and activities conducted historically within this specified area. Activities on land can include hunting and gathering, the raising of livestock or crops for subsistence or trade or other community activities. Traditional water use can include access to water for drinking and irrigation, fishing rights and recreation. The criticism of aquaculture arises when its activities encroach on the local community resulting in conflict. 

Let’s examine 2 specific examples for these conflicts:


Canadian First Nations and responsible salmon farming

Two primary concerns with salmon farming are disease transfer to wild salmon stocks and escapes establishing themselves as invasive species which compete against wild stocks. These concerns can conflict with the traditional activities of indigenous/aboriginal societies, commercial fisherman and recreational fisherman. In Canada, declining wild Pacific salmon stocks (in particular the Fraser river sockeye salmon), have sparked a conflict surrounding traditional land use and salmon farming. Since the summer of 2017, the conflict has included protestors co-occupying three salmon farm sites alongside workers. Canadian based salmon farming operations have a history of being respectful of these concerns, indeed salmon companies have entered into numerous agreements with Canadian First Nations to promote responsible aquaculture and protect community rights. Long standing examples of agreements include Marine Harvest Canada with Kitasoo/Xai’xais and Quatsino First Nations (1998)[1] and Cermaq Canada with the Ahousaht First Nation (2002).[2] To learn more about salmon farming on Canada’s west coast and respect of traditional land use and communities watch this short video:

BC Salmon farmers


Shrimp farming in the Mekong River Delta

Salinization of groundwater and mangrove deforestation are two common criticisms of shrimp farming which impact traditional land use. Today, climate change is exacerbating both of these issues. For example, salt water intrusion in Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta and the recognized importance of mangrove forests for carbon sequestration. However, as far back as 1996, India, which is the fourth largest producer of shrimp globally (FAO) passed legislation stating, “agricultural lands, salt pan lands, mangroves, wet lands, forest lands, land for village common purpose and the land meant for public purposes shall not be used/converted for construction of shrimp ponds.”[3] More recently (August 2017), Vietnam’s  Đồng Tháp Province prohibited expansion of shrimp farming due to salinization of ground water. Additionally, Vietnam has instituted strict management rules for protecting mangrove forests.

In these two examples, either the aquaculture industry took the initiative or government regulations helped preserve traditional land use. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In situations where national regulations are absent, aquaculture certification schemes such as GLOBALG.A.P. play a supportive role. The GLOBALG.A.P. standard addresses community rights, ensuring access to drinking water, protects fishing rights and includes reporting requirements for salinization of groundwater. As aquaculture continues to expand in the future, the need for sensitivity to traditional land use will only increase. GLOBALG.A.P. is diligently working to build a platform of awareness and provide solutions to this community-based issue and provides verification of socially responsible products through the GGN label.