Sustainable fish farming

Sustainable fish farming

Book reuiews/Aquaculture 146 (1996) 291-296 293 While this book is not specifically directed at an aquaculture audience, it does provide a solid ...

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Book

reuiews/Aquaculture

146 (1996)

291-296

293

While this book is not specifically directed at an aquaculture audience, it does provide a solid reference for aquaculturists on the physiological mechanisms which enable fish to function and prosper in the aquatic environment. EDWARD M. DONALDSON West Vancouver Laboratoy Department of Fisheries and Oceans 4160 Marine Drive West Vancouver, B.C. V7V 1 N6 Canada

Sustainable fish farming Fish Farming, Helge Reinertsen and Herborg Haaland (Editors), Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Sustainable Fish Farming, Oslo, Norway, 28-31 August 1994. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, 1995, 307 pp., price Dfl.174.90, ISBN 90 5410 5667 4.

Sustainable

‘Sustainable Fish Farming’ is the published proceedings of a symposium organized by three Norwegian organizations, the National Committee for Research Ethics in Science and Technology, the Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences, and the Centre for Technology and Culture, in August 1994. The purpose was to discuss on a scientific level the present status and future prospects of the industry in relation to sustainability, and to identify areas of high priority in improving industrial practices, research and development, and even legislation. The gathering brought together a mix of scientists, technologists, and intellectuals. The background themes of the symposium were: (a) resources for fish feed; (b) genetics; (cl environment and aquaculture interaction; (d) methods of marketing and quality of end products; and (e) social aspects of fish farming. The book faithfully reports all the proceedings, beginning with the opening address, a speech by the Minister of Fisheries, and an interesting broad background paper on The Sustainable Use of Global Oceanic Resources by M. Holdgate, the former Director General of the IUCN - the World Conservation Union. The four papers which constitute Resources for Fish Feed are comprehensive and lengthy contributions laying out facts and presenting conclusions. The information is a vast assembly of tables and charts, all fully referenced, but for the most part far too copious, and therefore much of it overlaps. The most thought provoking is the paper by A.G.J. Tacon on Feed Alternatives to Fishmeal and Other Fishery Resources, which probably would have been adequate to cover this theme for the participants at the meeting, and readers of the book. Four shorter papers follow on Genetics. S. Rogne describes several breeding programmes to meet specific objectives, such as disease resistance or sea ranching of

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salmon, and P. Alestrom deals very briefly with principles of genetic engineering. V. Shiva really opens up the symposium for the first time with his paper on Ethics, Genetic Engineering, and Biodiversity. He applies much of his previous intellectual analysis in his works on ‘The Violence of the Green Revolution’ and ‘Monocultures of the Mind’ to the so-called Blue Revolution, and raises many ethical and social issues regarding the rapid growth of aquaculture in Asia, particularly in his own country of India. The last paper, by M.L. Windsor and P. Hutchison, reverts back to salmon and concerns the impact of farming on wild stocks. The third section concerns Environment and Aquaculture Interaction. R.J. Roberts and J.F. Muir provide a brief review of aquaculture development, summarizing the major environmental issues for the participants. I recommend readers to start with this paper. It would have made a good opening presentation, as the authors try manfully to explain the concept of ‘sustainability’, and its variants. This is followed by more specific presentations on disease problems and treatments by T. H&stein, and competition and conflicts of interest by H. Kryvi. The fourth theme, on Methods of Marketing and Quality of End Products, has four papers in all, most of which confine themselves again to facts and conclusions like the papers on Resources. The final section, on Social Aspects, includes three papers which attempt to analyze broader issues of development in general, followed by their application to the field of fish farming. These are papers by A. Remmen, on Constructive Technology Assessment; SO. Funtowicz and J. Ravetz, on Risk Management, Uncertainty, and Post-normal Science; and L. Winner, on Changing Views in the Social Acceptance of Technological Development. All are authors from outside the close-knit aquaculture field, and their views make original reading. The book wisely makes no attempt to report verbatim the lengthy general discussions which must have followed each theme, but presents a three page summary of the main points of discussion. It follows with comments from five invited ‘laypeople’, and then finishes with 17 recommendations of the Symposium in the form of the Holmenkollen Guidelines for Sustainable Industrial Fish Farming (my italics). The sudden qualification that the Guidelines apply only to industrial fish farming, and some penetrating remarks by the laypeople, indicate that the discussion was probably not without good argument, and many questions remained unanswered by the meeting as a whole. This, in reality, is probably what was anticipated by the organizers of the meeting at the outset. Symposia such as this, and other similar events which been held before on aquaculture issues ’ , are not going to provide solutions by themselves

’ FAO, Rome. Reducing Environmental Impacts of Coastal Aquaculture. GESAMP Reports and Studies, No. 47, 1991. FAO, Rome. Women in Aquaculture. ADCP/Rep/86/28, 1986. Rockefeller Centre, Bellagio, Italy. Environment and Aquaculture in Developing Countries. ICLARM Conf. Proc. 31, 1993. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA. Aquaculture Development in Less Developed Countries; social, economic, and political problems. Leah J. Smith and Susan Peterson (Editors). 1982, Bowker Press, UK.

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overnight, but they are invaluable forums for focussing attention on major issues. Norway, once again, must be applauded for yet another independent initiative in the field of fisheries, and the two Editors should be congratulated on putting together this faithful account of the proceedings in book form. The book is useful, as it will be readily available to all in the libraries, whereas a simple report would have remained in the dark repository of the grey literature. On a personal note, I regret that the Symposium was based on ‘Sustainability’. The word has become the ‘expression 2t la mode’ of the 1990s particularly in the vocabulary of organizations of the United Nations system and bilateral aid agencies. It is now per se the popular norm for justifying development projects without real definition or quantified indicators to monitor achievements. Unfortunately such labels soon become meaningless and forgotten. Remember ‘LDCs’, ‘rural poor’, ‘subsistence’, and ‘centres of excellence’? High principles behind buzz words start as honest attempts to focus attention on failing goals and codes of practice, but long-term commitment soon gives way to the next creation of some international administrator or his speech writer. On the other hand, ‘sustainable’ is a wonderful all-encompassing attributive adjective for many nouns (at least ten in this book alone), and it may be some time before there is a better one. It is true that, some positive changes frequently result from popular movements, but my concern is that few organizations are genuinely serious about taking on the long-term goal of raising standards, and most people are prepared to support anything which has a specific personal purpose, or when there are some tangible benefits to be had (read the NIMBY/NIABY dichotomy, described in the paper by Winner). The concept of ‘sustainable aquaculture’ was not a creation of the industry itself, or even of those on the periphery with genuine concern for its welfare, but now that it is here, why is the industry left out of the process of trying to make it sustainable? Why do organizers of international meetings, including those at a scientific level, invite only the industry’s back-seat drivers? Why not ask the real drivers, those who invest their living in producing food and providing jobs for (sustainable) economic and social development, to participate and discuss how high ideals may or may not actually work at farm level? It is possible to list a hundred individuals with post-graduate degrees and intellects who have resigned their safe commissions in administration or research, and gone to work in the trenches. Their practical experiences at farm level could have made some very revealing case studies around which to assess the possible effects and impact of the principles of ‘sustainable aquaculture’ in real life. In the same vein, it could have been interesting to have invited representatives of international banks to rationalize the right approach to ‘sustainability’ through case studies on some of their multi-million dollar investment projects which have covered vast areas and directly contributed to many of the problems outlined by Shiva in his paper. Nonetheless, the First International Symposium on Sustainable (Industrial) Fish Farming was undoubtedly a success. There is an important role in the development of aquaculture for those, in the words of one of the first scientific mentors of aquaculture, John Bardach, ‘who must view the world from the bridge’. However, the bridge must not be too far back from the action, and perhaps the Second Symposium will introduce

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more dynamicism by including those who will have to work with ‘sustainability’, namely the small-scale and large-scale investors in the industry. C.E. NASH CofrepPche France Aquaculture Centre Ifremer de Brest, BP 70 City 29280 Plouzane France