Legal empowerment and licensing of farms
From the assessment of the possible environmental and social aspects of aquaculture, it will be obvious that haphazard development without adequate regulation can result in the collapse of an important food production industry. Of the many regulatory measures suggested, licensing of farm establishments based on data on impact assessment and monitoring is considered to be the most practical way of enforcing orderly development. Large-scale farming enterprises have necessarily to be undertaken on the basis of detailed environmental surveys for as long a period of time as possible to be able to predict annual fluctuations. In order to ensure that the enterprise takes full advantage of the regulatory systems and makes use of experience generated in the monitoring of mitigatory measures adopted for overcoming the environmental and social impacts of the farm project, it can be advantageous for the investors and producers to compensate for the delays involved in investigating the risks and devise suitable mitigatory measures for the predicted adverse impacts. Besides meeting the requirements of the grant of licenses and following the national priorities, it may not otherwise be possible to select the appropriate farming systems and make enterprises sustainable on a longterm basis.
Not all development will require detailed environmental assessment and only major projects that are likely to have serious impacts need detailed assessment. However, in the case of crowded clusters of small-holder farms around small creeks and estuaries, as in the case of shrimp farming in Asia, environmental and socio-economic impact studies, including carrying capacity of receiving water bodies, will have to be monitored by the regulatory authorities in consultation with local communities to regulate the total area and design of such farm clusters and to ensure good management practices. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a decision-making tool, which constitutes a study of the consequences of the proposed action on the environment and identification of the best alternatives for possible environmental and social conflicts. The mitigatory measures proposed should be undertaken to counteract the negative impacts predicted. There should be provision for monitoring of the mitigatory measures undertaken and success in achieving the goals of sustainability.