Water Use by Inland Aquaculture in Thailand: Stakeholder Perceptions, Scientific Evidence, and Public Policy

  • Louis LebelEmail author
  • Phimphakan Lebel
  • C. Joon Chuah


This paper assesses the significance of stakeholder discourses on uses of water by aquaculture for public policy. Our discourse analysis focuses on the experiences with inland aquaculture in Thailand, drawing from interviews with stakeholders, and evidence in public documents such as newspapers and television news reports. A key finding is that fish farms suffer significant losses from polluted run-off entering water bodies where fish are grown. Mass mortality events in river cage culture, in particular, attract media attention and are the core of the aquaculture-as-victim discourse. Fish farms are also adversely impacted by river management and current water allocation policies. Inland shrimp farming has received more negative media and scientific attention than fish farming, and is the focus of the aquaculture-as-villain discourse. A third, aquaculture-as-benign discourse, is used widely to describe fish pond culture, and more rarely to promote aquaculture in low-quality water bodies or as part of integrated nutrient and waste re-use farming systems. The findings strongly imply that aquaculture farmers should be included as a stakeholder in the management of watersheds and rivers, as well as the negotiation and allocation of water resources. They also suggest a need for aquaculture development policies to pay closer attention to water quality and allocation issues.


Aquaculture Mass mortality Water pollution Water use Discourse 



This work was supported by a grant from the Institute of Water Policy, National University of Singapore, and with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, under Grant 108526 as a contribution to the AQUADAPT-Mekong project. Thanks to Chatta Duangsuwan for helping with data collection and Boripat Lebel for editorial assistance.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict on interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unit for Social and Environmental Research, Science and Technology Research InstituteChiang Mai UniversityChiang MaiThailand
  2. 2.Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public PolicyNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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