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Jan. 3, 2023

MSU researchers to study Asian aquaculture with new NASA grant

A satellite image over a 6 × 7 km region in central Thailand and the corresponding automatically extracted aquaculture ponds each colored by their area. Image courtesy of Lin Yan.

With new funding secured through a nearly $800,000 grant from the NASA Land Cover/Land Use Change program, researchers from Michigan State University will be working to assess aquaculture in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Thailand. Using satellite imagery and survey information, Lin Yan, Ben Belton and David Roy will analyze how the industry is driving land cover and land use change in aquaculture hot spots.

“Aquaculture contributes substantially to global food and nutrition security and is projected to expand further in response to demand from an increasingly populous, affluent, and urbanizing world. When implemented sustainably, aquaculture can contribute substantially to addressing the challenges of global food and nutrition security. Yet, for many years, poor practices have often led to significant environmental damage in areas where it is employed,” said Yan, assistant professor with the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations at MSU.

“Approximately 80% of global aquaculture production is currently taking place in Asia. Yet, it's long been assumed that much of Asian aquaculture has been implemented on a small scale. However, the size and tenure of aquaculture farms have been poorly documented. The factors that drive and mediate aquaculture change have been understudied in the past, and there are few sources of publicly available data on the boundaries of aquaculture ‘ponds,’”commented Belton, associate professor with the MSU Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics.  

“This research is of great academic interest but also has practical implications for policies affecting land use and aquaculture in key global aquaculture hot spots,”  said Roy, professor of Geography and the Interim Director of the CGCEO.  

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By: Diane Huhn