Associated mangrove aquaculture farms
Expanding shrimp aquaculture has been one of the main drivers of the worldwide loss of mangrove forests. Consequently, tropical mud coastlines have become vulnerable to severe erosion and catastrophic flooding. The likelihood has increased of the scenario that millions of inhabitants could become displaced from their homes and land, and lose their livelihoods, including income from aquaculture. In tropical muddy coastlines, building hard seawalls and dykes to protect aquaculture and households against erosion and flooding is too costly. A more sustainable and cost-effective alternative is the Building with Nature approach, an integrated and participative way of planning, designing and constructing water infrastructure with the aim to create mutual benefits for both nature and society.
Along tropical mud coastlines, Building with Nature can involve the creation of a mangrove- based economy that integrates revitalisation of aquaculture productivity with mangrove restoration to protect coasts. A mangrove greenbelt dampens waves and builds up sediment, thus protecting traditional earthen seawalls along rivers and ponds, and reducing their maintenance cost, while also enhancing fisheries and water quality. In Indonesia this approach was implemented at district scale in the Building with Nature Indonesia project in Demak, Central Java. This project introduced innovative Associated Mangrove Aquaculture (AMA) systems, the focus of this guideline, to restore mangrove greenbelts in the estuary along inland waterways and to protect adjoining fishponds. In AMA systems, part of the aquaculture pond is given up to make space for riverine mangroves. Such riparian greenbelts along rivers and creeks perform ecosystem functions (ecosystem services) and enhance biodiversity and increase economic opportunities for the local population. As such, AMA offers a more sustainable alternative to silvo-fishery systems, of which several types are practised in Indonesia, but none that contribute to coastal protection, and some that may have negative effects on aquaculture.