Transforming open mining pits into fish farms: Moving towards sustainability
MetadataShow full item record
The legacy of mining activities has typically been land 'returned to wildlife', or, at some sites, degraded to such an extent that it is unsuitable for any alternate use. Progress towards sustainability is made when value is added in terms of the ecological, social and economic well-being of the community. In keeping with the principles of sustainable development, the innovative use of flooded open pits and tailings impoundments as commercial, recreational or ornamental fish farms should be considered in some locations, as it could make a significant contribution to the social equity, economic vitality and environmental integrity of mining communities. This article highlights the growing significance of aquaculture and explores the benefits and barriers to transforming flooded pits and impoundments into aquaculture operations. Among other benefits, aquaculture may provide a much-needed source of revenue, employment and, in some cases, food to communities impacted by mine closure. Further, aquaculture in a controlled closed environment may be more acceptable to critics of fish farming who are concerned about fish escapes and viral transmissions to wild populations. Despite the potential benefits, aquaculture in flooded pits and impoundments is not without its complications - it requires a site-specific design approach that must consider issues ranging from metals uptake by fish, to the long-term viability of the aquatic system as fish habitat, to the overall contribution of aquaculture to sustainability. © 2004 United Nations. Published by Blackwell Publishing.