Blue economy and integrated aquaculture management
Stella Tsani1,2, Phoebe Koundouri1,2,3, Eleni Petra4, Charalampos Dimitrakopoulos5 and Gerasimos Antzoulatos6
1ICRE8: International Centre for Research on the Environment and the Economy, Artemidos 6 & Epidavrou, Marousi 15125, Athens, Greece
2School of Economics, Athens University of Economics and Business, 76 Patission Street, Athens 104 34
3Grantham Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton St WC2A 2AE, London, United Kingdom
4Department of Informatics and Telecommunications, National Kapodistrian University of Athens, Zografou 161 22, Greece
5 CITE: Communication & Information Technologies Experts S.A., 178 Ethnikis Antistaseos Av., Kessariani 161 22, Greece
6 i2s: Integrated Information Systems S.A., 43 Mitropoleos, Marousi 15124, Greece
Aquaculture management often targets output maximization rather than profit maximization. This tactic is economically inefficient but may also be associated with social and ecological risks. In order to achieve the goals of efficient and sustainable aquaculture development, both the ecological and socio-economic impacts of aquaculture should be identified and monetized, with ultimate goal to be explicitly incorporated in the aquaculture production and management decisions. Aquaculture depends directly, but also impacts, on the availability and quality of the marine resources and the environment. It also interacts with socio-economic parameters in a way that the costs and the benefits of aquaculture extend beyond monetary expenditures and revenues. There is a general consensus among policy makers and resource managers that the sustainability of ecological and economic systems is tightly coupled. Nevertheless the interaction among the latter is complex and it makes informed resource decision-making extremely difficult, especially when considering the dynamic nature of ecosystems and the difference in the scale of analysis of ecological and economic systems.
The research on the modelling of aquaculture production is ongoing. Working along the same lines, BlueBRIDGE consortium and the International Centre for Research on the Environment and the Economy (ICRE8) have joined efforts with the ultimate goal to bringing socio-economic and environmental impact into consideration when analyzing aquaculture operation performance and production management. The joint work acts on identifying, conceptualizing and monetizing the social and environmental impact of aquaculture and combining this with the specific techno-economic and production models of Blue Economy, taking into account data and computational resources at reach. For this purpose, ICRE8 has undertaken a thorough Social Costs Benefit Analysis in which the total economic value of costs and benefits of aquaculture is identified, modelled, evaluated and monetized. The costs and benefits associated to aquaculture have been identified and quantified in a way compatible to the techno-economic and cost-driven production models available in BlueBRIDGE.
The identification and quantification efforts have aimed at: extending the identification of the costs and benefits of aquaculture beyond pure financial metrics and monetary terms, extending the modelling of aquaculture production beyond the quantification of private costs and benefits, and including in the analysis the social costs and benefits associated with aquaculture. In this way: i) can be produced integrated models of aquaculture production that take into consideration both the private costs and benefits but also the social costs and benefits associated with externalities and effects not appropriately captured by market-driven functions and factors, ii) can be provided quantified insights to the social costs and benefits that that producers internalize or can internalize, which can complement policies targeting aquaculture management and financing (e.g. subsidies, environmental taxes, etc.)
The costs and benefits considered include among other investment costs, production costs and revenues, social interactions and environmental impacts translated into effects on ecosystem services and social effects evaluated over time and space. The resulting framework, developed to support the integrated management of aquaculture production, allows for decisions that are consistent with the concepts of environmental sustainability, economic and social efficiency.
The framework is available as a web tool through the Virtual Research Environments (VREs) of the BlueBridge Gateway (https://bluebridge.d4science.org) integrated with additional tools that can be exploited by the Aquaculture companies.