HESTIA to support sustainable shrimp farming in Vietnam

14 November 2023

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© Alena Goebel
Researchers from the University of Oxford have announced a joint research programme with Can Tho University's College for Aquaculture and Fisheries (CAF) and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (Stockholm University) to boost the sustainability of shrimp farming in Vietnam's Mekong River Delta.

The four-year research project will utilise the HESTIA food sustainability data platform project developed by the Oxford Martin School Programme on Food Sustainability to drive its research.

The global population is projected to reach 9.7 billion people by 2050, and the food system is facing mounting challenges such as food security, economic viability, and environmental preservation. In particular, the global aquaculture industry, which includes shrimp farming among others, has experienced remarkable expansion in recent years. This growth, however, has led to concerns around overfishing, environmental deterioration, and negative socioeconomic repercussions such as community displacements.

In response to such concerns, Oxford, SRC and Can Tho have united to pave the way for a more sustainable shrimp farming future in the Mekong River Delta and beyond. This collaboration will comprehensively assess different shrimp farms and standardise environmental impact data to generate precise comparisons and trend analyses with HESTIA. Key areas of focus include lifecycle assessment, land use changes, socioeconomic trends among farmers, decision-making processes, and policy analysis. The primary goal is to pinpoint obstacles and foster effective incentives for sustainable practices within the shrimp farming sector and to strike a harmonious balance between environmental sustainability and maintaining productivity and income levels for local farmers.

Alena Goebel, PhD researcher with the School's Food Sustainability Programme, said: 'I am excited to be a part of this interdisciplinary and international collaboration and am looking forward to gaining deeper insights into the changes and impacts of our food system.'

Lead scientist at Can Tho University Dr Dao Minh Hai said: 'This collaboration will sustainably improve the current shrimp farming practices as well as drive the sustainable development of aquaculture in the Mekong Delta, especially under the negative impacts of climate change.'

Dr Patrik Henriksson of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and WorldFish said: 'This is a great opportunity to build on previous collaborations and expand the productive collaboration with Can Tho University.'

E.J. Milner-Gulland, Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford, said: 'I'm delighted that we are collaborating with Can Tho University on this very topical and important project and I look forward to our joint research programme producing important insights over the next few years.'