Ecology, Economy, and Politics of Resource-Extraction Ecosystems

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Readings for Week 5, Fisheries and Aquaculture

Tuesday, April 30

Aquaculture, or raising animal and plant resources in fresh or salt water, has become a controversial topic because of its relation to food, ecology, and economy. Begin by reading two diametrically opposed popular assessments of the proper role of aquaculture, a very positive one by development guru Jeffrey Sachs, and a very negative one by Brad Stein in TIME.

Then go on to the massive report, the Food and Agriculture Organization's 2012 SOFIA (State of Fisheries and Aquaculture) report. You should read the introductory section (it's a lot of pages, but full of charts and graphs), pages 3-89, and then post by 7:00 a.m. on the topic of whether you think increasing fish consumption, from capture fisheries or aquaculture, or both, is a viable part of a world food strategy for the coming decades.

In addition we will have one volunteer each (since these are short) to make brief presentations on specific sections of the report dealing with particular issues; in each case be sure to stress the controversies and the main positions held by the disputants:
  • Marine Protected areas, pages 164-171
  • Demand and supply of aquafeed and feed ingredients, pages 172-181
  • Global guidelines on ecolabelling, pages 181-86
In class, we will have the very brief presentations, and then discuss a whole series of issues that connect fisheries and aquaculture to issues of scale in particular.

Thursday, May 2

Today, we move to the sustainability question in aquaculture in particular:

Begin with another massive report, this one from GESAMP on Environmental Risks in Coastal Aquaculture, of which you should read the introduction, plus chapters 2, 4, and 6.2.

Then read two brief things about using fish to feed fish: Rebecca Goldburg and Rosamond Naylor on Ecological Problems, and Trevor Branch et al. countering the conventional wisdom about the value of fishing down the food chain.

After you have digested all this material, but before 7:00 a.m., post a brief (200-300 words) comment on how the complexities and difficulties involved in sustainable forestry are the same as or different from the complexities and difficulties involved in sustainable aquaculture. This is a preview of one of the topics for your Shellfish essay.

In class, we will discuss a variety of issues pertaining to ecology and why ecology is such a difficult science, compared to the "hard" sciences of chemistry and physics.