Essays on Science and SocietyGLOBAL VOICES OF SCIENCE

Mangroves, Fishponds, and the Quest for Sustainability

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Science  07 Oct 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5745, pp. 57-59
DOI: 10.1126/science.1115179

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Aquaculture, the farming of shrimp and other useful aquatic and marine plants and animals in artificially confined and tended ponds, pens, and cages, ranks as a phenomenal success story in global food production. In 1975, aquaculture contributed 8% to the overall yield of the world's fish harvest; now it provides more than one-third of the yield. Total aquaculture production in 2003 was 54.8 million metric tons valued at $67.3 billion in U.S. dollars. More than 90% of this output comes from Asia, where aquaculture has its origins and where this month's essay author has lived and worked all of her life. In her essay, Jurgenne H. Primavera, senior scientist of the Aquaculture Department of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center based in Iloilo, Central Philippines, traces the recent history of aquaculture and the socioeconomic and environmental challenges that its rapid growth has wrought, especially for the mangrove ecosystems in which much of brackishwater pond aquaculture occurs. With an eye on all stakeholders, Primavera lays out how aquaculture is now falling short of the goal of sustainability and what steps might be taken to move the industry in that direction.

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