Environmental impact assessment and monitoring in aquaculture: Requirements, practices, effectiveness and improvements.

Averil Wilson, Shona Magill, Kenny Black

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This document contains the main outputs of Component 2 of the FAO project “Towards sustainable aquaculture: selected issues and guidelines”. Component 2 focused on environmental impact assessment and monitoring in aquaculture, in particular on the relevant regulatory requirements, the practice, the effectiveness and suggestions for improvements. The report includes four regional reviews on EIA and monitoring in aquaculture in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America, a special study on EIA as applied to salmon aquaculture, as well as a global review and synthesis report which draw on the findings of the review papers, covering relevant information from more than 35 countries. In addition, this document provides the Report of the Technical Workshop on Environmental Impact Assessment and Monitoring in Aquaculture, held at FAO headquarters in Rome from 15 to 17 September 2008.

The global and regional reviews in this study and the associated technical workshop draw on experience from throughout the world in the application of EIA and monitoring to aquaculture development. In practice most aquaculture is small-scale and is not subject to EIA or rigorous monitoring. More emphasis needs to be placed on environmental management frameworks which can address the environmental issues associated with large numbers of small-scale developments – including strategic environmental assessment, risk analysis, management plans for waterbodies and/or groups of farms, monitoring and response procedures.

Where EIA is applied there is mixed experience. Several weaknesses were identified in the regional reviews and at the workshop, including lack of consistency in assessment; lack of appropriate standards; lack of integration between levels and divisions of government; inadequate or ineffective public consultation; lack of assessment skill and capacity; limited follow-up in terms of implementation and monitoring; and excessive bureaucracy and delays. There is very little hard evidence on cost effectiveness.

Monitoring is of fundamental importance to effective environmental management of aquaculture, and without which EIA itself is largely pointless. The main weakness identified was limited implementation of monitoring requirements as developed in EIA environmental management plans, and limited analysis, reporting and feedback of farm level and wider environmental monitoring programmes into management of individual farms and the sector as a whole.

The key to more effective use of both EIA and monitoring procedures will be to nest them within a higher level strategic planning and management framework, including clear environmental objectives and quality standards. More rigorous risk analysis should be used to inform the focus of both EIA and monitoring.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Number of pages675
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Publication series

NameFAO Technical Paper


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