The policy and legal frameworks that regulate expansion of mariculture differs worldwide, and specifically between some of the major players in mariculture development, China, the European Union (EU), Norway and Canada. In China, marine functional zoning (MFZ) is the legal framework regulating use of marine space, while in the other nations marine spatial planning (MSP) is applied. We detail how mariculture is implemented and compare the development experience for MFZ in China, and MSP in the EU, Norway and Canada. A comparison of the stepwise processes of MFZ and MSP implementation clarifies the differences in status of mariculture among the countries.
China, the EU, Norway, and Canada all have governmental visions and objectives to develop their mariculture industries. They have established institutional frameworks for managing aquaculture planning although these are highly diverse, where a general concern and condition for further development and growth of the aquaculture industry is the environmental interactions between mariculture and the environment. We suggest a stronger recognition of the relationship between food security, intensification of mariculture and environmental sustainability, to gain a better understanding how mariculture development can become an important contribution towards sustainable sea food production.
In the prospects of future increase in competition for space and resources in the oceans and consequently the need for efficient governance, the apparent weak or receding position of mariculture in MFZ and MSP processes should be of considerable concern if the endeavors of providing more ocean food using mariculture is promoted. As mariculture is regarded as the most promising route to achieve a substantial increase in provision of food from the oceans, we conclude that there is a need for strengthening the position of mariculture and its implementation in maritime spatial planning frameworks like MFZ and MSP.