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New FAO study demonstrates that aquaculture benefits local communities

23 March 2014

In order to address governance problems caused by the aquaculture industry’s fast growth, the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department has published a new technical paper, entitled ‘Improving governance of aquaculture employment’.

The report is based on a survey undertaken in Africa, America, Asia and Europe, where individual fish farmers were asked about their hiring practices, the demographic characteristics of their employees, and the remuneration and other and benefits paid to employees. The result of poor employment governance may include exploitation of labour with low wages and unsafe working conditions or child employment. Therefore, by using the report’s findings, the FAO wants to assist countries to improve employment governance of aquaculture activities within their jurisdictions.

Evidence from the case studies suggests that the labour force in general has benefited from aquaculture: for example, farms provided permanent jobs so that the young population could stay in their communities. Remuneration levels were at, or above, the minimum wage, and usually above wages in alternative sectors. Workers also enjoyed medical and pension coverage, even bonuses.On the other hand, unskilled workers received poor salaries and working conditions wereoften rudimentary. According to the study, local communities also benefited from the advantages of developing aquaculture farms, as residents spent more money and paid taxes. This is helping to reduce poverty, isolation and illiteracy.

Editorial comment

The creation of jobs with decent working conditions in coastal ACP communities is a crucial challenge, as jobs available in the traditional sectors, like fisheries, are often decreasing because of the overexploited state of many fish stocks. The contribution of aquaculture to address this issue should be investigated by ACP countries. An intrinsically linked matter is that coastal aquaculture should be developed in an environmentally sustainable way, taking into considerationissues like pollution or deforestation, in order not to further alter coastal ecosystems on which existing coastal communities depend for their work and livelihoods.


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