Abstract, 2009, FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper
Global aquaculture development is at a crossroads with many critical aspects of sustainability that needs to be addressed. Mariculture, the production of aquatic organisms in brackish and saline water, has increased throughout the world and in many tropical countries; this increase has resulted in a shift from traditional extensive multiplespecies farming systems to more intensive practices. Exposure to global markets made many farmers adopt specialized systems targeting only one economically attractive species. In terms of sustainability, and environmental impacts, coastal aquaculture systems should, among many things, endeavour approaches that minimize dependence upon fossil fuels, reduce wastes and increase efficiency of resource usage. In addition, there is a need for developing sustainable and suitable systems for poor small-scale farmers living in coastal settings; those systems should add to both income generation and food security. Even though technological development and improved management has resulted in increased efficiency and environmental performance in some intensive monoculture systems, we need to ask ourselves what information (being embedded in traditional integrated systems) is being lost in the transition toward monocultures. Thus, such knowledge could, together with more recent findings from research on integrated aquaculture, add important information to ongoing efforts aiming at increasing the sustainability of aquaculture. Integrated aquaculture is certainly not a panacea for aquaculture development, but should be looked upon as one potential tool among many others facilitating sustainable development.
Tropical mariculture is a highly diverse activity, which is also true for integrated farming in that region. Existing integrated mariculture systems can be classified into four main categories: a) Polyculture (i.e. multiple species co-cultured in a pond/tank/cage (also including enclosure of different species), b) Sequential integration (PAS, Partitioned aquaculture systems) on land and in open waters (differs from polyculture by the need to direct a flow of wastes sequentially between culture units with different species), c) Temporal integration (replacement of species within the same holding site, benefiting from wastes generated by preceding cultured species) and d) Mangrove integration (aquasilviculture, sequential practices – using mangroves as biofilters).