Stakeholder perspectives on the importance of water quality and other constraints for sustainable mariculture

A Ross Brown, James Webber, Sara Zonneveld, Donna Carless, Benjamin Jackson, Yuri Artioli, Peter I. Miller, John Holmyard, Craig Baker-Austin, Simon Kershaw, Ian J. Bateman, Charles R. Tyler, (2020). Stakeholder perspectives on the importance of water quality and other constraints for sustainable mariculture. Environmental Science & Policy, 114, 506-518.

Aquaculture, including marine aquaculture (mariculture), is the fastest growing food production sector globally and is expected to play a key role in delivering future food security. A potential factor limiting growth of the aquaculture industry, however, is the maintenance of good water quality, on which all forms of aquaculture depend. This is particularly challenging in ‘open’ coastal and estuarine systems and requires engagement with a wide range of stakeholders that can influence water quality. We applied a semi-quantitative method (Q-method) to capture and evaluate perspectives across diverse stakeholders in order to address the overarching question: “How do stakeholders rank water quality issues and management options versus other issues and actions for ensuring the sustainability of shellfish mariculture in South West England?” Results from this regional case study were used to highlight key issues and knowledge gaps that have national and international relevance. Stakeholders were found to hold distinct perspectives (P1−3), but there was general consensus that good water quality is essential for sustainable aquaculture, and that there is a need for better understanding of spatial and temporal variations in land use throughout catchments to ensure effective water quality management. Stakeholder engagement highlighted the importance of managing anthropogenic and environmental (climatic) pressures on land and water through agri-environment and urban planning policy in order to ensure sustainable food production, including from mariculture.

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