Fish—including finfish and shellfish—are an important item in the human food basket, contributing 17 percent of the global animal-based protein supply in 2010. They are an especially valuable food source in developing countries, where more than 75 percent of the world’s fish consumption occurs. In addition to protein, fish contain micronutrients and longchain omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for maternal and child health, but often deficient in the diets of the poor.
Aquaculture, the farming of aquatic organisms, provides close to 50% of the world's supply of seafood, with a value of U.S. $125 billion. It makes up 13% of the world's animal-source protein (excluding eggs and dairy) and employs an estimated 24 million people (1). With capture (i.e., wild) fisheries production stagnating, aquaculture may help close the forecast global deficit in fish protein by 2020.
It is time to recognize the crucial role of small-scale farmers in Asian aquaculture production and trade. The socially and economically important smallscale sector – the “mainstay” of Asian aquaculture – is innovative, but faced with constraints in modern markets. The sector needs investment from public and private sectors to compete and thrive. Another challenge is to develop certification programs in ways that promote responsible aquaculture expansion with due consideration to small-scale farming.
Women are active participants in aquaculture supply chains, but a dearth of gender-disaggregated information hampers accurate understanding of their contribution. Research results and FAO National Aquaculture Sector Overview (NASO) fact sheets show that female participation rates vary by type and scale of enterprise and country. Women are frequently active in hatcheries and dominate fish processing plant labourers. Women’s work in small-scale aquaculture frequently is unrecognized, under or unpaid.
Significant changes in our understanding of the interrelationships between aquaculture and poverty have occurred in the last decade. In particular, there is a growing realization that the impacts of aquaculture need to be assessed from a value-chain perspective rather than through a narrow production focus. In recent years, understandings of poverty and the forms, outcomes and importance of aquaculture have also shifted. Terms in current use are first clarified, including those related to scale and location of aquaculture.
We use global value chain (GVC) theory to understand governance of Vietnam’s shrimp farming industry. We describe this GVC as buyer-driven with important food safety standards imposed by governments of importing countries and new certification systems promoted by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Governance relations are clear between governments in importing countries and Vietnam, and between importers and NGOs. Governance relations become more fragmented further down the chain where large numbers of small-scale producers and traders operate.
This chapter examines pangasius catfish aquaculture in Vietnam in the context of changing social relations of production, European consumer trends and regulation. In particular we are interested in how the rise of 'sociotechnical' environmental regulatory networks in the form of quality standards and third-party certififcation have altered power relations between consumers and producers across global space.
National and intergovernmental regulation of fisheries has not prevented many failures of fisheries management around the world. New approaches to improving the environmental sustainability of fisheries have included the certification of fisheries harvested by sustainable means, and the ecolabelling of fish and seafood products from certified fisheries. The intention is to use the power of markets as an incentive to induce more sustainable fisheries. To date, only a relatively small number of fisheries have been certified, and these have been predominantly in developed countries.