Aquaculture in the countries bordering the Mediterranean and the Black Sea has grown substantially over the past decades, helping meet the rising demand for fishery products and contributing to increasing food security, employment and economic development in the region. However, this rapid expansion in some cases not well planned, has caused concerns about environmental impact, competitions with other local activities, human health and social issues.
Social acceptability refers to the degree to which aquaculture activities are accepted or precluded by the public at large. Social acceptability is also a key driver for sustainable aquaculture development and understanding the drivers that influence it could help unlock the aquaculture development potential and establish sustainable models that could contribute to the building of consensus around aquaculture activities.
MedAID Work-package 7 on “Social acceptability and governance of aquaculture development in the Mediterranean” provide analysis of institutional and social constraints which constitute the main obstacles to aquaculture development in Europe and particularly in the Mediterranean region. This WP also explore the conditions of social acceptability to aquaculture development in order to foster social licenses to operate at the territorial and Mediterranean eco-region scales. Through Task 7.1 (Institutional dimension and social acceptability of aquaculture) and 7.3. (Local and regional case studies of aquaculture development strategies) and employing a very participatory approach involving a large number of stakeholders, WP7 produced the Deliverable 7.1 “Guidelines in support of Social Acceptability for aquaculture development”. The overall objective of the guidelines is to provide countries with recommendations for a better governance and communication of the aquaculture sector in order to improve the social acceptability and sustainable development of the sector in the Mediterranean region.
The Guidelines are the ultimate outcome of activities that entailed: (i) the mobilization of key regional aquaculture stakeholders within the Mediterranean region, (ii) their engagement and participation into two regional workshops, and (iii) the implementation of a regional survey to support the identification of critical factors underpinning the social acceptability of aquaculture.
This MedAID component has been implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through two main bodies: FIAM (Products, Trade and Marketing Branch of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department) including FAO GLOBEFISH (multi-donor trust fund project managed by FIAM), and the GFCM (General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean).
The guidelines address governance, environmental, economic and social and ethical aspects that could influence the social acceptability of aquaculture in the region and, for each aspect, they recommend practical actions and identify the main categories of stakeholders that should be involved. The overall framework of the guidelines is outlined in Figure 1.
During the 11th Session of the GFCM Scientific Advisory Committee on Aquaculture (CAQ) held in Malaga (Spain) in September 2019, the proposal of guidelines were presented to representatives of national administrators and obersvers from international institutions and NGOs, and the content was discussed. Recognizing that the guidelines represented valuable tools to address various technical aspects of aquaculture development and to prepare aquaculture strategies, the Committee agreed on the need to further work on them. In this respect, the guidelines will be also discussed and improved along with other issues, on the occasion of further GFCM meetings to be held during 2020 and 2021. While the proposal of guidelines presented in this document are not the final version formally endorsed by the GFCM, the recommendations here proposed will be included in the final recommendations of the MedAID project in WP8.
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