Virtual Environmental and Humanitarian Adviser Tool – (VEHA Tool) is a tool
to easily integrate environmental considerations in humanitarian response. Field Implementation guidances are useful for the design and execution of humanitarian activities in the field.

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VEHA - Field Implementation Guidance

Agricultural livelihoods
Recover livelihoods - Fisheries



Environmental factors causing/contributing to the needs and affecting the humanitarian activity

Worldwide, over 500 million people depend, directly or indirectly, on fisheries and aquaculture. Fish provide essential nutrition to three billion people, including at least 50 percent of the animal protein and essential mineral intake of 400 million people in the poorest countries. []

Diseases threaten fish and contribute to food and nutrition insecurity among rural populations dependent on fish farming. Seafood production has a high revenue potential when compared to many other animal or agricultural products. This revenue potential makes it a highly desirable livelihood that is often promoted in coastal communities after a disaster.

Seafood capture (both industrial and artisanal) has depleted the world’s oceans and continues to stress fisheries’ ability to reproduce enough to maintain viable stocks globally. In addition to the capture of fish for human consumption, the farming of fish may raise pressure on wild fisheries by extracting wild juveniles for further culturing, or by utilizing wild fish as a feed source. Therefore fisheries-based livelihoods may be vulnerable to collapse because of insufficient natural capital.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Women play an important role in fisheries and usually makeup 50% or more of the labor force.

Men are primarily engaged in harvesting at sea, boat building, and engine maintenance and repair.

Women are mainly engaged in processing and marketing, but can also be primary producers.


Environmental impact categories

Climate Change
Coastal erosion
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem
Water pollution

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

· Habitat loss, degradation, and change

· Diversion of water flow changes that impact downstream users and ecosystems.

· Water pollution (bioaccumulation and waste products)

· Introduction of non-endemic and invasive species to wild systems

· Introduction of diseases, parasites, and pathogens to the wild population.

· Post-harvest impacts from processing plants and other supporting infrastructure

· Capture of endangered, threatened, and protected species

· Pollution

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Potential habitat loss and change is an important consideration in the siting and construction of aquaculture farms and facilities. Many brackish water areas have seen the large-scale conversion of mangrove forest ecosystems for the development of shrimp ponds. Habitat loss and degradation are not only a concern for pond development, they can also occur because of excess cage culture densities that impact water quality and associated aquatic vegetation. Additionally, stake and line methods of seaweed farming alter bottom habitats and impact seagrass, coral reefs, and reef flat habitats.

Although small-scale and sustainable aquaculture can be designed to use very little water, many forms of aquaculture require a large amount of water to be productive. Inland and brackish water pond systems require diversion of water into the systems to fill the ponds and flush them of waste. Water diversion from small streams and rivers can be significant, especially in low rainfall and flow periods. An additive impact of extensive pond development is reduced water flow downstream from aquaculture operations.

Wastewater is associated with aquaculture projects is released into water bodies and results in the death of fish species that are harvested by other communities. The main nutrients of concern are nitrogen and phosphorus. Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus can lead to the overproduction of algae or plants that alter natural water conditions and can kill important food species.

Biosecurity is another concern, where diseases in aquaculture systems along with pathogens, predators, and parasites can be released into the ecosystem, with adverse effects on fisheries, coral reefs, and other species. Importation of broodstock or seed stock is also a concern because if the stock is not quarantined properly it could bring in new diseases, pathogens, and parasites that affect the local broodstock and native species if the imported stock escapes into the natural environment.


Summary of environmental activities

Consider water use and productivity at the watershed scale.

Follow best management practices that calculate the correct amount of feed to administer so there is little or no fecal matter buildup. Feed management and consideration of cumulative impacts of multiple farms and carrying capacity are important to prevent water contamination from pond discharge.

Recommend that biodegradable or photodegradable pesticides be used for pond preparation activities and that discharges occur only after non-toxic levels are reached.

Improvements in small-scale infrastructure for sorting, cleaning, icing, display, and sale of fish or construction of small-scale processing plants.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Develop a sustainable fisheries reconstruction plan that focuses on creating an overarching sustainable fisheries management framework; sustaining target fish populations; conserving sites critical for replenishment; rebuilding boats, gears, supporting infrastructure, and markets; strengthening local institutions involved in fisheries; and strengthening small-scale fisheries governance.

Protect and effectively manage all known important fisheries spawning and recruitment sites, using appropriate traditional, local, and national management mechanisms (including time-area closures and marine protected areas).

Ensure that effective surveillance, enforcement, and compliance mechanisms are in place to prevent overexploitation of fish populations and other targeted components of the ecosystems, and to prevent other activities from having a significantly damaging impact on the health of the ecosystems. Provide incentives and access to markets for products that meet a certification standard to encourage better practice and, if appropriate, develop infrastructure and trade networks and seek markets to support such ventures.

Maintain or improve water quality in coastal and nearshore environments. Maintain traditional fishing grounds, including traditional access to beach landing sites.

Practice Aquasilviculture – Aquasilviculture integrates aquaculture and mangrove forestry. It is more resilient to shocks and extreme events, leading to increased production owing to improved ecosystem services. Improvement in small-scale processing is a good way to add product value and quality, generating increased profits for small-scale fish processors which typically are small- and medium-scale women-owned enterprises. It also can contribute to improved food safety with cleaner, fresher, and more nutritious fish food products provided to local markets. However, proper management and regulation of total processing capacity—in both small- and large-scale fishing and fish farming—is needed to ensure that the demand for fish by processing facilities does not exceed the carrying capacity of fisheries and aquaculture facilities.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Philippines: Introducing The Golden Apple Snail – The golden apple snail (Pomacea canaliculata) was introduced intentionally into Asia in 1980 with the expectation that it could be cultivated as a high-protein food source for local consumption and as an export commodity for high-income countries. It has since invaded Asian rice systems, where it is dispersed through extensive irrigation networks and feeds voraciously on young rice seedlings.

In the Philippines, the cumulative cost of the snail invasion to Philippine rice agriculture in 1990 was between $425 and $1200 million (USD), even without taking into account the nonmarket damages to human health and ecosystems. If this amount were invested in an effective quarantine and inspection program for nonindigenous species, similar exotic pest problems in agriculture could be avoided in the future.

Source: Naylor, R. 1996. Invasions in Agriculture: Assessing the Cost of the Golden Apple Snail in Asia. Ambio

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Number of sustainable fisheries plans developed and implemented at a local level

Activity Status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Mitigation of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

This requires effective planning, local consultation, community participation, coordination with local organisations, in-deep analysis of intervention possible implications, and interactions

Next guidance:

Area based approach
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