Hot off the press: New research in April 2019

Cecily Layzell -

Giant clam floating ocean cages, Solomon Islands. Photo by Mike McCoy, 2001.

Want to know how we are advancing scientific knowledge and thinking on the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture? ‘Hot off the press’ is our monthly roundup of new journal articles and other publications by WorldFish, FISH and partners.

Research published in April is dominated by the emerging blue economy and what it means for smaller, less powerful ocean actors. But we also highlight the main issues raised at a recent workshop on the risks of antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture and the options for production without medicalization.

Securing a just space for small-scale fisheries in the blue economy

In developing countries, oceans support the livelihoods of millions of small-scale fishers, processors and traders and are a key source of micronutrients and protein for over a billion low-income consumers.

The economic promise of oceans has captured the attention of conservationists, business leaders, funders, governments and multilateral organizations, including the United Nations and the World Bank. This is illustrated by an increase in global ocean-focused conferences that previously framed conservation as the leading agenda but now emphasize ‘blue growth’ and the ‘blue economy’.

new paper in Frontiers in Marine Science argues that small-scale fisheries are being squeezed for geographic, political and economic space by larger economic and environmental conservation interests, threatening the substantial food, nutrition and income benefits these fisheries provide.

In addition, the blue economy discourse sees transformation as necessary to ‘fix’ an ocean that is environmentally degraded and economically underperforming. Using insights from social science and small-scale fisheries research, the paper’s authors offer three additional considerations for the blue economy and other initiatives grounded in ‘environmental crisis’ and ‘new economic frontier’ narratives.

  • Firstly, they explain why market-based trajectories of change put forward as part of the blue economy pose risks to the benefits that small-scale fisheries provide to society.
  • Second, they emphasize small-scale fisheries as uniquely positioned to provide and distribute food and income to those who need them most.
  • Finally, they call for more meaningful adoption of well-developed inclusive governance principles by engaging emergent governance platforms as part of a process to navigate toward sustainable, equitable and just ocean development.

New diagnostic framework for equitable mariculture development

The developmental opportunities of the blue economy, specifically the global goal of life under water (SDG 14) as well as goals related to resources, poverty, health, equity and well-being, are also the focus of a monograph on equitable mariculture development in the Western Indian Ocean.

Globally, from a whole of production perspective, there has been an uneven distribution of the benefits from mariculture (the farming of aquatic plants and animals in marine and brackish water). At the same time, there is a disconnect between what those involved in mariculture want and the way this is translated at policy level.

Tilapia cage farming, His Grace Farm, Akosombo, Ghana. Photo by Jens Peter Tang Dalsgaard.

The diagnostic framework presented in the publication was developed to assist people involved in coastal management decision-making as well as mariculture planning and policy, to support and guide the sector toward a more equitable future in the Western Indian Ocean and beyond.

The framework is based on six desired outcomes of mariculture initiatives. These were identified during a 2016 multistakeholder workshop organized by the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, a WorldFish partner.

The six outcomes are: space; habitats; biosecurity; incomes and livelihoods; economic growth; and gender and youth. Each outcome is linked to a diagnostic question to help gauge the potential of an initiative to deliver this outcome. The framework also provides guidance on how to answer the question and suggests a minimum set of actions if the answer to the diagnostic question is no. Each outcome is accompanied by a suggested set of indicators for its monitoring and evaluation.

Taking a joined-up approach to antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), or the ability of microbes to resist the effects of medicines and other chemicals that are used to control them, presents a formidable threat to health and sustainable development.

AMR is a ‘One Health’ issue, meaning that the health of people, animals and the environment are interlinked. The development of resistance in one location and in one setting can affect the health of people and animals more broadly. Likewise, efforts to combat resistance require efforts in all areas. In Bangladesh, where WorldFish has significant projects, the burden of infectious disease is significant across all sectors and there is a need for a joined-up approach to health promotion and management of AMR.

Aquaculture is a key site for the emergence and transmission of AMR. The risk relates to a number of issues, including disease burden and health management practices, feeding practices, such as the use of waste materials and inputs from other farming sectors, and the transfer of water.

Aquaculture, Bangladesh. Photo by Martin van Brakel, 2007

A two-day workshop supported by the WorldFish-led CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems (FISH) held from 12–13 February 2019 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, aimed to:

  • Share and develop greater understanding of the key practices, disease issues and drivers of AMR risks in Bangladesh and Bangladeshi aquaculture.
  • Promote a One Health approach to tackling AMR in Bangladesh and initiate new initiatives.
  • Discuss the use of this knowledge in any public/farmer campaign aiming to raise AMR awareness.
  • Identify data needs and approaches for future characterization of AMR issues in Bangladeshi aquaculture.

The workshop report summarizes the main issues raised and the key messages from the group sessions as well as recommendations for future interventions. These are:

  1. Capacity: A sustainable approach to training key personnel and ‘training the trainers’ is required to support the main needs within the laboratory and agricultural extension services.
  2. Surveillance: A coordinated surveillance program of both antimicrobial sales and resistance is required to provide good baseline data and informed interventions.
  3. Awareness: Campaigns and approaches need to be tailored to the context. It may not be effective to try and raise awareness or educate every potential user of antimicrobials. Instead, developing a process whereby farmers, shopkeepers and so on are advised to check with local officials before using antibiotics can have the dual benefit of increasing reporting and shifting the perceived importance of antimicrobial treatments.

Beyond Bangladesh, WorldFish is working more broadly to tackle the growing problem of AMR in developing countries. This is reflected in our contribution to the new CGIAR Antimicrobial Resistance Hub. The hub, which will integrate and channel the research and development efforts of three CGIAR centers and three CGIAR research programs including the WorldFish-led FISH, was launched on 21–22 February 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Author
Cecily Layzell

Cecily Layzell

Cecily Layzell is a communications specialist, with more than 15 years' experience working for a range of corporate and not-for-profit organizations in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. She holds a journalism diploma and an MA in food security.

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