Characterizing fish supply and aquaculture systems in Myanmar as a guide to measuring environmental footprints

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Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food production sectors in the world and an attractive option for improving livelihood security, especially in developing countries. Yet as aquaculture assumes greater significance as a means to meet global food and nutrition demands, concerns about the environmental impacts of aquaculture systems are on the rise.

The main areas that dictate the environmental impacts of aquaculture systems are the amount and type of external resources, such as the feeds, fertilizers and fuel used in the production cycle, and the distance the harvested fish travels from pond to plate (food miles).

Generating information on these resources is therefore important to provide insights into the environmental footprints arising from aquaculture systems.

Modeling Myanmar’s aquaculture systems

In Myanmar, aquaculture has grown rapidly over the last ten years. The country’s aquaculture systems range from low-input extensivesystems to high-input intensive systems, depending on the type and amount of resources such as feed used in production.

Modeling fish production and supply systems for biophysical resource use can guide in managing for fewer environmental impacts. This was the focus of a recent WorldFish study commissioned by the Fisheries Research Development Network ( FRDN ), a multisectoral research platform of which WorldFish is part, in collaboration with the Myanmar Department of Fisheries and Mandalay University.

The goal of the study was to characterize the biophysical resource use of key aquaculture production systems that supply the Mandalay market. Mandalay was chosen as a reference as it receives fish produced locally as well as fish supplied from the distant Yangon area.

Mandalay University students collecting aquaculture systems data. Photo by Girija Page, 2018.

The study modeled four key aquaculture systems from two geographical locations: the Mandalay region and the…

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