Governance and Outlook — Seafish

Tiger Prawn

Penaeus monodon

Governance and Outlook


Governance systems play an important part in ensuring environmental sustainability and whilst these have evolved rapidly with the growth of the industry, there are differences between countries. Poor governance can result in industry stagnation, the spread of preventable diseases, environmental damage and opposition to aquaculture by local communities and groups such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and can lead to the ‘boom and bust’ cycles seen in warm water prawn farming. Key governance responsibilities are ensuring environmental assessment and decision making processes are in place for sensitive and coastal ecosystems, which help deliver sustainable aquaculture whilst managing possible adverse impacts. Other regulatory and governance aspects should cover aspects such as water abstraction and discharge, health monitoring, and so forth.

Four principles – accountability, effectiveness and efficiency of governments, equity, and predictability of the rule of law – are necessary for effective aquaculture governance. These principles should guide the administration, legislative and regulatory framework of aquaculture. In addition to governments, other stakeholders such as communities, NGOs and producers should also be involved in the governance of the industry1.

Due to the collection of wild broodstock and limits to the availability of hatchery seed, the majority of monodon farming occurs in countries surrounding the species native range.


Many countries in Asia-Pacific have made efforts to set up policies, administrative, legal and regulatory frameworks to develop and manage aquaculture. Overall, Asia-Pacific regional countries enjoy established strong aquaculture governance structures (policies, institutions, regulations, etc.) in support of sustainable development and management of aquaculture at all levels.

In some of the countries that have made conducive policies, implementation is delayed by the lack of financial and skilled human resources. Policies and regulations may be enacted, but unless there are sufficient government personnel with adequate skills and financial resources to monitor and enforce them, they will remain ineffective. Almost all countries in the region now require licensing to practice aquaculture. All commercial aquaculture establishments must undertake Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) or Initial Environmental Examinations (IEEs) and register with the authorities before starting to farm. As aquaculture governance has improved and production increased in the region, many products have found markets internationally.

Whilst regulations have been created or tightened, the most important development has been the increasing uptake of Best Management Practices (BMPs), codes of conduct or practices3 and certification schemes.

Certification is a voluntary process by which suppliers demonstrate environmental protection, responsible sourcing and production practices that minimise impacts and comply with national legislation. The use of independent third party international certification schemes within warm water prawn aquaculture has been growing4, 5, 6; seeking to promote and instil responsible aquaculture practices in the industry via individual farm certification.


Between 2008 and 2011 annual global production of farmed penaeids - prawn species from the Penaeidae family, which includes monondon - was 3.5-4 million tonnes. In 2018 it was 5.7 million tonnes7, and the trend is set for continued future growth.


Several strong inter-governmental agencies have been established in support of prawn farming and general aquaculture development in Asia-Pacific. Dedicated international and regional agencies provide technical and financial assistance for the development and better management of the aquaculture sector in the region. Many countries in Asia-Pacific have also established private or semi-private aquaculture associations and partnerships focussing on overall aquaculture development and specific aspects such as trade (e.g. the Vietnam Association for Sea Food Exports or VASEP). Many bilaterally assisted programmes have also contributed to this endeavour and these efforts are continuing.

NGOs have also contributed to aquaculture development; The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership8 for example implement Aquaculture Improvement Partnerships (AIPs), which aim to reduce or mitigate the potential cumulative impacts of warm water prawn farming practices at a zonal level by establishing a framework within which producers, suppliers and buyers work together to address sustainability issues. The sector is likely to develop further with greater adoption of certification schemes which require adherence to governance regimes.

Intensification of warm water prawn aquaculture is likely to be the only means to continue to increase prawn production and maintain profitability9, and there may continue to be further consolidation of the industry, with increasingly larger and more efficient farms.


  1. FAO
  2. FAO
  3. Corsin, F., et al, 2008. Codes of practice and better management: a solution for shrimp health management?
  4. ASC
  5. Global Gap
  6. GAA
  7. FAO FishstatJ
  8. SFP
  9. WWF