Aquaculture overtook wild capture fisheries as a source of efficient, high protein food in 2014 and the gap has become wider since. Considering the strained resources of fisheries, aquaculture offers an increasingly valuable option to producing animal proteins for a growing global population. In 2014, the global volume of aquaculture fish production amounted to 73.8 million metric tons, which equals an estimated first sale value of US $160.2 billion (FAO, SOFIA 2016). 25 countries produce 96.3% of the global farmed fish production (FAO, SOFIA 2016). Asia accounts for just under 90% of world production. China produces 62% of global production and is the largest consumer of seafood. Only 5% of aquaculture production is currently being certified (SSI, 2016) and it is widely recognized that certification is not sufficient to address the pressing sustainability challenges in the sector, including diseases, early mortality and unsustainable feed.

Impact Focus

  • Responsible Agrochemical Management
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Market transformation

IDH’s aquaculture program aims to establish “aquascapes” to address bottlenecks in the sector at a regional level by increasing collaboration between buyers to develop joint strategies for (for example) disease control, and strengthening the use of data to increase feed and antibiotic efficiency. These two interventions will reduce antibiotic use and improve feed efficiency, which both translate to input cost reductions. Moreover, disease control will bring down mortality rates, and access to data will reduce risks for new investors in the sector. By 2020, we aim to have established four aquascapes – in China, Thailand, Vietnam and Ecuador – and to have extrapolated this approach in at least one country in Africa. At global level, IDH aims to align the sector on environmental and social issues and priorities in specific geographies. We support the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) to develop tools to assess geographies against internationally recognized indicators.

KPI Progress 2017

  • Change in Business Practice

    Private Sector Investment Ratio Target 2020 14
    Target 2017 2
    Results 2017 2
    IDH addresses with China Blue, Fish’in and an IT company to health and feed issues in China. This partnership is transforming companies towards a more collaborative and data-driven approach. In Thailand, we developed a similar partnership with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, Aqua Star, Beaver Street Fisheries, Seafresh group and Rubicon Resources, their suppliers, shrimp health service providers and others. They are now devoting efforts towards our aquascapes approach. Similar discussions are ongoing in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
  • Change in Sector Governance

    Effectiveness of multi-stakeholder convening Target 2020 (not set) 0
    Target 2017 (not set) 0
    Result 2017 8
    As board member we convinced the GSSI to create global alignment on sector’s top priorities. GSSI can play a key role in strengthening global alignment in seafood production by embracing an agenda beyond benchmarking certification schemes. We continued participating and engaging in the PPP Fish Taskforce in Vietnam, to address social and environmental issues. In China, the national and provincial government agencies on diseases consolidated with the Tilapia industry, China Blue, IDH and others, and initiated a dialogue on how to collaborate on addressing tilapia diseases. In Thailand, IDH interest in developing a shrimp zone-management project led to linking the private sector with government officials and academic expertise in disease control. The Seafood Taskforce decided to expand from Thailand into Vietnam with support from IDH, and the initial agreement by Vietnam’s PPP Fish taskforce (of which IDH is a founding member) was drawn up. Through this initiative, governance of the aquaculture sector in Southeast Asia was strengthened to align on issues like diseases and feed to increase sustainability in the biggest producing countries of aquaculture.
  • Field Level Sustainability

    # producers/workers/ community members trained Target 2020 50
    Target 2017 10
    Results 2017 25
    In Honduras and Ecuador, training sessions related to occupational safety, good aquaculture practices, ASC standard, labor laws, chemicals management, and quality control were held monthly in 2017. In India, training topics included production practices, health and safety, chemical applications, crop planning, water and waste management and ASC certification requirements. In Egypt, training topics covered production practices from pond construction to harvest, post-harvest social responsibility, and marketing.

We have managed to create a lot of energy and momentum for a data driven zonal management approach amongst key companies.

Flavio Corsin, Program Director Aquaculture

Relevant SDGs

  • 12 Responsible Consumption
  • 14 Life Below Water

Gender focus

We identified that female farmers in Hai Nan, China, have a social network dedicated to sharing experiences, and we decided to leverage that network for the purposes of the project. We deliberately took gender into account when replacing a member of the IDH Aquaculture Steering Committee. In other boards or advisory bodies, we address gender when new board members are being selected. Overall, farms are dominated by men, as they require activities like feeding or water exchange at night, which is less suitable for women in the cultural contexts in which we operate. In other business areas, women can and do play a role. In China, we found that women play a role in overseeing the finances of the business. We are now exploring whether and how this can be addressed in projects when it comes to finance.

Lessons Learned

Data sharing
It took more effort than expected to gain the necessary commitment from the sector for a more  collaborative and a data-driven approach. We decided to organize a call for proposals for a company to overcome at least some of the confidentiality challenges around data sharing.

Reaching agreement on the sector’s priorities is far more challenging in a fragmented sector like aquaculture than agreeing on a method of assessing the performance of geographies on different
sustainability issues. Therefore, IDH is now leading the GSSI board’s efforts to develop tools to measure progress towards sustainability and to align the industry around improvement programs.

There is growing appetite to invest in aquaculture as an efficient source of quality animal proteins, which would address growing food security challenges. Nevertheless, there is still limited understanding on the part of investors about the risks associated with the sector and on the available risk mitigation measures. We therefore focused our efforts on involving investors more closely in our aquascapes, and on creating investment guidelines for sustainable aquaculture, starting in Indonesia.

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Our Partners in Aquaculture