Urban Aquatic Production

  • Bunting S
  • Little D
  • Leschen W
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Abstract

The status of urban aquaculture is assessed in this chapter and the most important literature and knowledge sources are discussed providing a comprehensive overview that highlights challenges facing decision-makers, planners and stakeholders in developing policies, programmes and management strategies that facilitate sustainable, equitable and safe urban aquaculture. The prevailing characteristics of existing urban aquaculture activities are described and the associated benefits are discussed. The recognised constraints and emerging threats to urban aquaculture are then presented. Following this assessment important knowledge gaps and challenges facing planners, managers and other stakeholders are identified and potential approaches to deal with the issues raised are proposed. CITIES FARMING FOR THE FUTURE 382 The cultivation of fish and aquatic vegetables is widespread throughout many cities in South and Southeast Asia and is found to a lesser extent in Africa, Europe, Latin and North America. Despite growing recognition concerning the roles of urban agriculture, including aquatic production, the importance and potential of growing fish and edible aquatic plants in and around cities remains largely unknown. Urban aquatic production is often intrinsically linked with the livelihoods of a significant number of poor people. Urban aquaculture encompasses a broad array of activities, varying from large-scale extensively managed culture-based fisheries like those in the East Kolkata Wetlands to intensive and high-tech production of freshwater and marine fish in tanks. However, in many Asian developing countries, the production systems involved are frequently semi-intensive utilising wastewater directly from the city as a source of nutrients to increase production. The proximity of aquatic farming systems to urban areas presents a number of problems. These may be especially severe if contamination, through urbanisation and industrialisation, of waste resources traditionally exploited to enhance production causes the quality of fish or plants being cultured to deteriorate or negatively affects productivity. Faced with pollution problems, some farmers opt to intensify production depending less on exploiting human waste resources, and more on utilising feedlot livestock waste or inorganic fertilisers and supplementary feeds to enhance production. However, as with intensification in other agricultural sectors, there are risks associated with adopting such an approach. These will be discussed here. Other farmers adopt alternative strategies to mitigate hazards and minimise risks associated with urban aquatic production, but in many cases it seems that the scale and complexity of problems that urban producers face means it is almost impossible for them to address the underlying causes. Foremost amongst these is the sheer rate and scale of physical transformation that characterises many urban centres; much of this change, inevitably alters social and economic as well as physical landscapes. Productive and viable farms may be converted to concrete and tarmac in the course of just a few years. Such dynamic settings can however offer new opportunities for aquatic farming. Limited coordination amongst urban and rural government agencies, weak and ineffective governance, and limited resources mean that urban producers and their problems are often overlooked or ignored. Despite such constraints, urban aquatic production systems provide food and employment, particularly to the poor, whilst there are many other environmental and social benefits that are assessed in the following sections. Urban aquaculture is defined here as the practice of aquaculture occurring in urban environments, or areas subject to urbanisation, incorporating by definition peri-urban situations. However, demographic and economic processes giving rise to urbanisation do not occur evenly around urban areas, and many factors influence the rate and extent of urbanisation. Furthermore, urbanisation is not always directly associated with development around pre-existing urban centres. Aquaculture activities (defined in Box 13.1) undertaken in both urban and peri-urban settings share many characteristics. However, we propose that

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Authors

  • Stuart Bunting

  • David Little

  • William Leschen

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