Environmental sustainability of Nile tilapia production on rural family farms in the tropical Atlantic Forest region

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Fish farming practiced on small rural properties is an important economic and social alternative for local populations. However, the existing challenges of different production systems and the potential environmental impact of fish farming compromise the permanence of the producer in this activity. Thus, the present study evaluated environmental sustainability (ES) by applying indicators on family fish farms that produce Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) in earthen pond semi-intensive systems in the Vale do Ribeira region, area of Atlantic Forest form São Paulo state, Brazil. Data on the productive performance and environmental variables of two commercial fish farms were used to determine the environmental sustainability indicators and elaborate diagrams with a performance scale. Fish farm A showed sub-indices of 1.00 in relation to the efficiency in the use of energy (E), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and carbon (C), being respectively ~46%, 2%, 27%, and 18% higher when compared to fish farm B. Environmental sustainability was strongly influenced by the increased generation of pollutants in the fish farms, but also by other elements besides the inputs added in the aquaculture system. Alternative technologies that use less water per production unit and allow more efficient nutrient use improve the environmental sustainability of production. Also, the results demonstrate that the environmental sustainability indicators and index are effective tool to assist aquaculture producers in sustainably planning the activity.




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Aquaculture, v. 547.

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