A discussion of the use of the sustainability index: ‘ecological footprint’ for aquaculture production
Department of Environmental and Business Economics, Danish Institute of Fisheries Economics Research (DIFTA), University of Southern Denmark, Niels Bohrs vej 9, DK-6700 Esbjerg, Denmark
2 Institut für Meereskunde an der Universität, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany
3 Department of Marine Sciences and Coastal Management Ridley Building, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle NE1 7RU, UK
Accepted: 27 July 2000
This paper critically reviews the theoretical and practical implications of adopting the original ‘ecological footprint’ concept as an index of the sustainability of aquaculture production systems. It is argued that the concept may provide a reasonable visioning tool to demonstrate natural resource dependence of human activities to politicians and the public at large. However, due to its inherent weaknesses, the ‘ecological footprint’ fails to provide a cohesive analytical tool for management. From an ecological perspective, its two-dimensional interpretation of complex ecologically and economically interacting systems is one major weakness. From an economic perspective, the ‘footprint’ fails to recognise factors such as consumer preferences and property rights which have a major influence on the allocation and sustainable use of resources. The interactions among social, ecological and economic factors are discussed in an attempt to foster a broader inter-disciplinary view of criteria required for a sustainable use of aquatic resources.
Key words: ecological footprint / aquaculture / natural resources / sustainable use / management
© Elsevier, Inra, Ifremer, Cemagref, Ird, Cnrs, 2000