Colonised Coasts: Aquaculture and Emergy Flows in the World System: Cases from Sri Lanka and the Philippines

This thesis conceives aquaculture as a transfer of resources within and between different parts of the world system. It is argued that due to inappropriate human-nature interactions, resources tend to flow from the South to the North, as a process of coastal colonisation. To study this resource transfer, coastal aquaculture is approached from a transdisciplinary perspective, integrating natural, social, economic and spatial aspects. By combining world system theory and general systems theory, a systems view is adopted to relate aquaculture to forces of global capitalism, and analyse interactions between social and ecological processes at local and global levels. Emergy (energy memory) synthesis and participatory research methodologies were applied to two cases of aquaculture in Sri Lanka and the Philippines; monocul-ture of the black tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) and milkfish (Chanos chanos), and polyculture of the two species together with mudcrab (Scylla serrata). The study reveals that semi-intensive shrimp monoculture in Sri Lanka generates few benefits for poor local people, and depends much on external inputs such as fry, feed and fuels, which implies negative environmental effects at local as well as global levels. Extensive polyculture in the Philippines involves more local people, and implies lower dependence on external inputs. Still, since benefits accrue mostly to elites, and mangroves are negatively affected, neither case is viable for sustainable poverty alleviation. Nevertheless, the study offers several insights into how sustainability assessment may be more transdisciplinary, and points to several factors affecting sustainability and fairness in aquaculture; the most important being mangrove con-version, local people involvement, and dependence on external inputs…


1. Introduction
Aim, hypotheses and guiding questions
Outline of the thesis
2. Coastal aquaculture
The emergence of aquaculture in Asia
Aquaculture appropriation of mangroves
Aquaculture and sustainability
3. Views and approaches to environment and development
Development conceptualised
Dichotomies of development
Defining sustainable development
The importance of benefit distribution for local development
Dependency and neo-colonialism
Critique and opportunities of the neo-colonial perspective
Neo-colonial transfer of resources and costs
Systems thinking – merging the social and the physical
World system theory
General systems theory
Towards epistemological holism
4. Methodology
Inter- and transdisciplinary research
Emergy synthesis – some introductory notes
Participatory learning and action
PLA versus conventional epistemologies and methodologies
Making PLA participatory – rural appraisal influences
PRA tools applied in this study
Defining participation
Geographical information systems
The current thesis – a multiple case study
Collection of empirical data – the fieldwork
5. The environment, society and emergy
Emergy – synthesising environment and society
Energy hierarchy
The emergy evaluation procedure
Systems diagramming – energy systems language and symbols
Calculation and interpretation – emergy ratios and indices
6. Conditions in the two study areas
Aquaculture in Sri Lanka
The study area in Sri Lanka
Characteristics of informants
Aquaculture in the Philippines
The study area in the Philippines
Socio-economic characteristics of the local population
7. A comparison of aquaculture in Sri Lanka and the Philippines
Land-take and mangrove conversion
A spatial perspective on benefits
Local versus external participation
Spatial distribution of expenditures and profits
Emergy use, efficiency and environmental loading
Emergy evaluation of aquaculture in Sri Lanka
Emergy evaluation of aquaculture in the Philippines
Interpretation and comparison
8. Towards a transdisciplinary understanding of accumulation
Emergy: conceptualising accumulation in the world system?
9. Conclusions and discussion
Implications for sustainability assessment and planning
Appendix 1. Check boxes and interview questions
Appendix 2. Emergy evaluation table, Sri Lanka
Appendix 3. Emergy evaluation table, the Philippines

Author: Bergquist, Daniel A.

Source: Uppsala University Library

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