Mariculture production worldwide is growing at the rate of about 5 to 7 per cent annually. Currently, the main types of marine organisms being produced through mariculture include seaweeds, mussels, oysters, shrimps, prawns, salmon and other species of fish.

Mariculture offers possibilities for sustainable protein-rich food production and for economic development of local communities. However, mariculture on an industrial scale may pose several threats to marine and coastal biological diversity due to, for example, wide-scale destruction and degradation of natural habitats, nutrients and antibiotics in mariculture wastes, accidental releases of alien or living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology, transmission of diseases to wild stocks, and displacement of local and indigenous communities.

Based on the work of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Mariculture and SBSTTA 8 (recommendation VIII/3), the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties in decision VII/5 recommended that Parties adopt the use of specific methods and practices for avoiding adverse biodiversity-related effects. These included practices such as application of environmental impact assessments, development of effective site-selection methods, effective effluent and waste control, use of native species and subspecies, development of genetic resource management plans, and other techniques for protecting genetic, species and ecosystems diversity. A number of research priorities, which corresponded to global knowledge gaps, were also identified.

Mariculture is also an element of the elaborated programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity, which is contained in the Annex of decision VII/5 on Marine and Coastal Biological Diversity.

Programme element 4, on Mariculture is composed of:

Goal: To prevent or minimize the negative impacts of mariculture on marine and coastal biodiversity and to enhance any positive effects of mariculture using native species.

  • Operational objective 4.1:
    To promote use of techniques, which minimize adverse impact of mariculture on marine and coastal biological diversity.