Is enough attention paid to Health & Safety in Sustainable Aquaculture Development?

To what extent Occupational Health and Safety is considered in the sustainable development of Aquaculture is a subject currently under review by RS Standards in work commissioned by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation.

Dave Garforth, RS Standards Consultant, is one of the Project Leads and will investigate the landscape and gaps between Health and Safety reporting in the various important and emerging Aquaculture regions and to what extent global comparisons of performance are possible.

The pace of Aquaculture development and Technology in certain regions versus the traditional farming methods in others will also be considered and to what extent can interventions in certain settings be used to effect improvements in Safety in others. Performance tracking and global comparisons will require standardised definitions and metrics and to what extent this is possible, given the inherent challenge of objectively measuring Worker Rights and Safety.

RS Standards will report on progress of the research and we invite interested Parties who wish to find out more about this important work to contact Dave: dave.garforth@rsstandards.com

Our understanding of the definition of Sustainable Development and Sustainable Production has been evolving over the last half Century. The Publication of Our Common Future in 1987 marked a watershed in thinking on environment, development, and governance. The UN sponsored World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) led by Gro Harlem Brundtland was considered a landmark event and deemed vital for our very survival. More than 30 years on, one could argue that the broad goals have been widely embraced and elaborated considerably via the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. However, there remains many contradictions between ‘sustainable’ growth in the developed regions and developing regions when comparing the balance of ecological and resource use goals with human rights and socio-economic considerations.

Aquaculture holds the potential to supply high quality protein to the worlds growing population (FAO 114.5 mt output in 2018) and alleviate poverty in many marginalised regions of the world. However, it’s potential to degrade natural resources, habitats and impact wild populations through disease has been widely publicised. Hence most efforts have focused on sustainable development from an ecological perspective in the form of environmental regulations, effluent reduction, optimising husbandry and implementing measures to protect the health and welfare of stocks. What is less apparent, is the focus on worker welfare, health and safety in the sustainable development of Aquaculture.

Authors studying Aquaculture in modernised settings highlight that policy, regulation and economic considerations may result in greater emphasis on the protection of stock and environment ahead of worker welfare. This would suggest that environmental and economic pillars of sustainable development remain ahead of social considerations.

We would very much welcome contributions from Experts and if you are interested in keeping up-to-date on the progress of the Project, please let Dave know.

Dave Garforth

Senior Consultant