Mariculture Sustainability Index (MSI): Mariculture Sustainability and Mariculture Regulations 

The Mariculture Sustainability Index (MSI) evaluates the sustainability of aquaculture production using a score between 1 (poor) and 10 (very good). The index comprises 13 indicators, covering ecological, economic and social aspects of the industry, for 359 country-species combinations, involving 60 countries and 86 species (Trujillo 2008).

The MSI score is obtained as a combination of all the indices. For the Ocean Health Index, one subset of these was used to calculate mariculture sustainability and another to calculate mariculture regulations. In addition, the indicator on genetic escapees was used to estimate the pressure of mariculture upon the delivery of the biodiversity goal.

Which Goals Does This Affect?

How Was It Measured?

Five (5) of the 13 mariculture practice assessment criteria from the MSI were used for calculating the Status and Resilience measures for the Mariculture sub-goal of the Food Provision goal. These five criteria were selected for having the greatest potential to affect the long-term resilience and sustainability of the mariculture systems being evaluated. For Resilience, the criteria "traceability" and "code of practice” measures of mariculture governance were used. For sustainability within the Status measure, “fishmeal use,” “waste treatment,” and “seed and larvae origin” were used.

Scores for each assessment criterion were aggregated and averaged based upon the proportion of the landings that each assessed species contributed to the overall catch in each country in the current year. Scores were rescaled from the 1 to 10 MSI range to 0 to 1 and then weighted equally to come up with a composite score for Resilience or Status sustainability; these scores are country and species-specific.

The MSI data layer for ‘genetic escapees’ was used as a Pressure to indicate the potential for native or introduced species to reduce the number of species or the extent of habitats that comprise the Biodiversity goal.

Broader descriptions of the five criteria used are shown in the table below.
Description of practice and score scheme for applied criteria categories.

CriteriaWhere UsedDescription of Practice and Score Scheme
Fishmeal UseSustainability Aspect of StatusFish protein and oil inclusion in the diet at any stage of development must be considered; herbivore species will score 10, and carnivorous (piscivorous) organisms will score closer to 1, depending on the level of feed supplied.
Waste TreatmentSustainability Aspect of Status
Water exchange, output destinations, recycling and filtering of open water discharge or closed system reuse systems. Systems that are closed score high (10), while open systems without waste treatments score low (1)
Seed and Larvae OriginSustainability Aspect of Status

Hatcheries are major providers of larvae, fry and seeds. Broodstock origin and strain will also affect the score. Wild seed collection and its importance contribute to a low score due to bycatch and other effects on non-target species.

Code of Practice UsageResilience

Certification, up to date set of standards and principles, i.e., FAO

Code of Conduct (FAO 1995, 1999), or Eco-labeling are scored high, while no certification or similar scheme scores low (1)


Food safety related to a specific geographical origin, slaughtering or processing facility, and batch of fish can be identified scores high (8-9). If the origin and preparation of feed used in the farmed sector is included then scores high (10). 

Source: (Trujillo, 2008 - Table S25)


PHOTO(S): © Keith A. Ellenbogen
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