Biodiversity and Aquaculture

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Biodiversity can be defined in several ways. It is the sum total of genotypes of living organisms. Wilson defined it as "the variety of organisms considered at all levels, from genetic variants belonging to the same species through arrays of genera, families, and still higher taxonomic levels; includes the variety of ecosystems, which comprise both the communities of organisms within particular habitats and the physical conditions under which they live". The temporal and geographic distribution of biodiversity is one of the central themes of biology and it is also one of the most difficult to explain.

In recent years there has been growing concern that world biodiversity is reducing. A number of major factors have been identified which contribute to loss of biodiversity, and include:

CBD logo

There are moral, political and economic reasons for conservation of biodiversity. The Convention on Biodiversity [CBD] has 180 signatories. It arose form the Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro 1992 and has three overarching themes:

The Convention obliges nations to:- Create plans at national level to protect BD, Identify ecosystems, species and genomes for conservation and sustainable use, Monitor BD and the factors which affect it, Establish systems of protected areas, Manage biotic resources to ensure conservation and sustainable use, Rehabilitate and restore ecosystems.

The relationship between Aquaculture and Biodiversity is a mixed one. There is evidence that aquaculture may have a negative impact on indigenous species, while there are also clear examples where aquaculture has worked to conserve species. Our DEFRA-funded Darwin Initiative project is specifically designed to address issues of species loss and to support Mexico in its obligations under the CBD. It is intended that development of aquaculture for Chirostoma will reduce pressure on the wild fishery, boost livelihoods for families involved and through creation of a hatchery industry at various scales will provide a controlled steady source of young fish for culture or reintroduction to the wild, so conserving these unique species.


Darwin Initiative