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Title: Spatial modelling and GIS-based decision support tools to evaluate the suitability of sustainable aquaculture development in large catchments
Author: Falconer, Lynne
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2013
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Land, water and natural resources are under increasing pressure due to rising demands for food and energy from the rapidly growing global population. Across a catchment there can be multiple stakeholders with conflicting opinions over how space and resources should be used and managed. Consequently, it is important to consider the suitability of a catchment for a particular purpose to optimise use of the area and minimise potential conflicts and impacts on the wider environment. Aquaculture is a significant contributor to world food supply and as fisheries are unlikely to increase it is expected that the industry will continue to grow and expand in the future to help meet food security requirements. As a result, it is essential that the sector aims for sustainable development within the most suitable locations. However, it can be difficult to assess the suitability of multiple large catchments and some issues may not be immediately apparent. This project aimed to show how spatial models could be used as decision support tools to evaluate the suitability of large catchments for sustainable aquaculture. Four large areas of importance to aquaculture were selected; covering 10,148km2, 26,225km2, 48,319km2 and 66,283km2 in Bangladesh, China, Thailand and Vietnam respectively. Asia is by far the most dominant aquaculture region in the world and each of the four study areas contribute to local, regional and global food supplies. The study area in Bangladesh was located in Khulna region in the south west of the country and the main species of focus were prawn and shrimp. The Chinese study area was located in the south eastern province of Guangdong and the main species covered were tilapia and shrimp. Similarly, in Thailand, the main species evaluated were tilapia and shrimp whilst the study area extended across the Central region. Finally, the largest study area was the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and the main species of focus in this area were pangasius catfish and shrimp. One of the challenges in modelling large catchments is model applicability and data availability. Often, the required data are not available (or accessible) and it would be difficult, time consuming and expensive to collect new information. Furthermore, when assessing multiple areas is it vital that a representative and unbiased approach is used where no one catchment is favoured over the other due to higher quality data. Therefore, this study used data that are available for almost any area in the world; allowing future application of the models and enabling effective and unbiased decision support. Four modelling stages were employed in this study to evaluate the suitability of large catchments for sustainable aquaculture development. The first stage was the classification of seasonal land use models from satellite imagery. This provides information on what the land is used for and how aquaculture could impact or be impacted by the wider environment. The second step was the development of seasonal models of site suitability using optimal values within a GIS-based multi-stage framework. These models identify which locations are best for culture and can also be used to estimate the availability of areas for food production. The next stage investigated the use of Maxent as a novel approach in site suitability modelling to evaluate the conditions experienced by existing farms. The information from Maxent can be used to identify trends, opportunities and concerns related to sustainable management and farm locations. Finally, qualitative models of non-point source pollution (NPSP) were developed which assess the risk of NPSP within a catchment. NPSP is an issue which can impact both aquaculture and the wider environment. Thus, it is important to understand the areas within a catchment where NPSP risk is higher enabling the establishment of monitoring and/or mitigation procedures. The models support the ecosystem approach to aquaculture (EAA) and enable objective planning and management strategies to enhance productivity across large catchments without negatively impacting the environment. In order to meet growing food requirements, large areas will need to be used for agriculture and aquaculture; therefore, analysis at a wider catchment level, which complements assessment at a local scale, is required as it allows a holistic view of the situation. The work presented here illustrates the potential use of spatial models across large catchments and considers the suitability of the areas for aquaculture development.
Supervisor: Ross, Lindsay; Telfer, Trevor Sponsor: Institute of Aquaculture and the EU FP7 Food ; Agriculture and Fisheries ; Biotechnology Programme funded SEAT project (Sustaining Ethical Aquaculture Trade ; Grant 222889)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Aquaculture ; GIS ; Geographic Information Systems ; Spatial modelling ; IDRISI ; Large catchments ; Decision support ; Site selection ; Marine science Geographic information systems ; Aquaculture Management ; Environmental management ; Sustainable development