Developing a fish module for an economic agricultural sector model

Developing a fish module for an economic agricultural sector model

Being the fastest growing food producing sector, aquaculture has the potential to provide high quality protein sources and meet increasing future food demand.
However, the raising concerns over competition for land - direct and through feed competition – and sustainability as well as restrictive regulations may limit the expansion of aquaculture. We are working on a thorough literature review of the complex interlinkages across aquaculture, land use and sustainability.
The literature review is of an explorative character and touches and combines various topics in and around aquaculture (e.g. environmental sustainability, political regulation). We combine existing literature from various disciplines (e.g. aquaculture, agricultural economics, land use) for a thorough description of the relationships and give an overview of quantitative models for economic and environmental impact assessment.

The most important findings are:

  • The rapidly growing aquaculture is considered as a sustainable solution in terms of compensating the leveling-off of marine fish resources and to ensure food and nutrition security. Although the impacts of the expansion of aquaculture on eocosystems is still controversial (e.g. carnivores culture is the biggest consumer of reduction fisheries, nearly 20% of the total global capture fisheries), aquaculture still contributes to sustainability economically and socially.     
  • The competition for resources including water, land, and feed between aquaculture and agriculture, the environmetal damages resulting from the intensificatiion of farming and the overuse of antibiotic and pesticides indicate the importance of adequate legistlations to safeguard seafood safety, consumers’ health and the growing aquaculture industry.
  • Feed matters: Fishfeed accounts for roughly 50% of the total rearing cost and plays a vital role of linking aquaculture with agriculture through feed production. Along with the advancements in feed technology and the steady growth of herbivores culture, the percentage of plant ingrdients in fish feed is projected to reach 90% in 2020. As a result further land use changes through an increasing demand of crops for aquafeed as well as mangrove deforestation and crop farm transformation for aquaculture are expected.
  • Aquaculture is often absent in the existing economic agricultural models, and most of the aquaculture models are focused on environmental impacts. IMPACT and AgLink-CoSiMo (FAO-OECD) models are currently the only two global economic agricultural models that feature a relatively completely structured fisheries sector. To enable the analysis of aquaculture-agriculture interactions, there is a need for further developing these and other models.

Based on the knowledge gained from the literature review, we have started developing a fish module for the global economic agricultural sector model CAPRI (

In exchange with other SUSFANS groups (SP, IIASA, LEI-WUR), we have agreed on a basic strategy for classifying fish species. For the CAPRI model, we introduced a preliminary set of six species plus fish meal and fish oil. Data from FAO were mapped to these groups and we are now working on dividing them into fish from capture and aquaculture fishery.

The next step will be to establish the land use connection. Final aim will be to be able to assess questions like (1) how does aquaculture contribute to food and nutrition security, (2) how sustainable is aquaculture, (3) how does aquaculture connect with land use and (3) what is the impact of the Common Fishery Policy on aquaculture in the EU?