Shrimp culture in mangrove ecosystems threatens the resilience of both livelihoods and fish communities dependent on mangrove forested coastal ecosystems.


The aim of RESCOPAR is to develop multi-disciplinary methodologies and approaches that can help understand:

  1. the ecological, social and political processes that lead to the loss of resilience,
  2. the interactions between decision-making processes at different levels,
  3. the way these decisions affect shrimp farming practices, as well as
  4. the management, use and conservation of coastal aquatic resources, in order
  5. to increase access to information facilitating transparent and participatory decision making.

A range of PhD projects are carried out in Indonesia, Vietnam and other SE Asian countries around four themes: aquatic ecosystems, shrimp culture and WSSV, livelihoods, and governance (Figure).
For partners, details and publications see the links and the underlying webpages.



Shrimp culture contributes significantly to the loss of South-East Asian mangroves. Over time, productivity of shrimp-ponds declines as a result of acidification, pollution and infectious diseases, forcing farmers to abandon ponds within 5-15 years and to open new culture areas. Marine productive functions are also affected as mangrove clearance reduces habitat complexity as well as the biodiversity and abundance of associated fauna, with cascading effects to coastal fish communities. This ultimately affects capture fisheries in near shore seas. The changes in coastal landscapes are induced by a multitude of decisions by farmers and fishers on resource exploitation driven by their capabilities to access local resources; by trade opportunities; and by information based in local, national and global governance processes. Local arrangements to maintain coastal habitats and production systems are often ineffective. But the ineffectiveness of management is also the result of governance processes that control access to and participation in decision making from global to local socio-political scales. Shrimp farmers and fishers thus are part of dynamic socio-ecosystems shaping their social welfare and economic development. Therefore, aquatic resource management should be embedded in a profound understanding of ecological, social and institutional factors and feedbacks driving processes of change. Nine research projects situated in the Berau Delta of East Kalimantan (Indonesia) and the southern Mekong Delta in Ca Mau and Bac Lieu provinces (Vietnam) focus on:

  1. interactions between shrimp culture, coastal fish and crustacean communities and fisheries;
  2. the management of decisions affecting disease incidence in shrimp culture with a focus on WSSD virus;
  3. decision-making by local actors trying to sustain their fish-based livelihoods;
  4. governance processes - i.e. regulatory and commercial processes - impacting upon local livelihoods and ecosystem management at various socio-political and spatial levels.



Around March 2007 nine PhD students from Indonesia and Vietnam started their training. A tenth student from the Philippines joined through SEAFDEC. During the summer all students took part in interdisciplinary workshops discussing their contributions and examining issues of scale and resilience next to writing reserach proposals. In August 2007 a scientific workshop was held in Wageningen in which the program was presented to invited stakeholders and scientists. All students now have started their fieldwork in Berau and Ca Mau since November 2007. Presentations of the program were made at the Delta 2007 conference in Thailand and the KNAW open scienc meeting in Bali, Indonesia.

Research partners

Research partners
WU Graduate Schools and associated Chairholders Chairgroups or Laboratories WIAS Prof. Johan Verreth, Aquaculture and Fisheries (AFI), scientific leader RESCOPAR
Prof. Mart de Jong, Quantitative Veterinary Epidemiology (QVE)
CERES Prof. Han van Dijk, Law and Governance (LAW)
Prof. Leontine Visser, Rural Development Sociology (RDS)
PE&RC Prof. Arnold Bregt, Lab. for Geo-Information Science & Remote Sensing (GRS)
Prof. Herbert Prins, Resource Ecology (RE)
Prof. Just Vlak, Laboratory of Virology (VIR)
Prof. Marten Scheffer, Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality (AEW)
WIMEK Prof. Arthur Mol, Environmental Policy (ENP).
Indonesian Universities Mulawarman Dr. A. Syafei Sidik, Dean of the Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Research, Samarinda, East Kalimantan
Gadja Madja Prof. Dr. Laksono
Dipenegoro Prof. Dr. Budi
WWF Dr. Lida Pet-Soede, Marine Director World Wildlife Fund for Nature – Indonesia
Vietnam Can Tho University Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, Rector of Can Tho University
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thanh Phuong, Dean College of Aquaculture & Fisheries
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Le Quang Tri, Vice Rector of Can Tho University
Dr. Tran Thanh Be, director of the Mekong Research Development Institute
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Huu Chiem, Head Department of Environment and Natural Resources Management, College of Agriculture and Applied Biology.
Collaborating Institutes NACA Network of Aquaculture Centres Asia-Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand
Coordinators AFI Paul van Zwieten, ass. prof., +31 (0)317 483920,
Roel Bosma, researcher, +31 (0)317 483861,

Aquatic eco-system

Aquatic eco-system

Theme 1:
Impacts of spatial arrangements and temporal changes of aquaculture and fisheries activities in coastal aquatic ecosystems

Coastal systems consist of ecosystems as mangroves, sea grasses, coral reefs and near-shore seas. The spatial extent and configuration of a mangrove forest contribute to the sustenance of the fish/crustacean diversity and the productivity in mangrove enriched coasts. Consequently the nursery function of mangroves indirectly determines coastal fisheries catches. Habitat loss and fragmentation through pond construction will have impacts on coastal stocks, e.g. through loss of spawning and nursery functions, and through changes in the (spatial) allocation of coastal fisheries targeting them. A prediction is needed on how mangrove loss affects fish assemblages in essential estuarine habitats and what mangrove protection (Marine Protected Areas, maintaining coastal strips) can contribute to maintain coastal productivity.
This theme is studied by two PhD projects; one in Indonesia and one in Vietnam.

Mr. Nguyen Huu Nghia

Trade-offs in coastal fisheries and mangrove in the Mekong Delta, VietNam.

Mr. Audrie Siahainenia

Marine protected areas, shrimp farms and coastal fisheries in the Berau Delta, North-East Kalimantan, Indonesia: linkages through cascading effects.

Culture systems

Culture systems

Theme 2:
Spatial interactions and resilience of shrimp pond – mangrove forest ecosystems

Like many other types of animal production sectors, diseases and environmental problems are major limiting factors for sustainability in shrimp farming. Thus understanding the transmission modes for these diseases, how spatial planning could influence disease occurrence over a longer period, and how farm management influence the fate of wastes in the production system and their interaction with the shrimp health, are all important factors to improve sustainability in shrimp culture.
This theme regroups research of three RESCOPAR funded students, one WOTRO funded PhD project, and one WU/SEAFDEC sandwich PhD project.

Ms. Tran Thi Tuyet Hoa
Spatial spread and virulence development of White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) in cultured shrimp in the Mekong Delta, Viet Nam.

Mr. Ngo Xuyen Tuyen
Disease transmission of WSSV in cultured shrimp in the Mekong Delta.

Bui Thi Minh Dieu
Molecular epidemiology and evolution of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) in shrimp.

Ms. Desrina Haryadi
The relation between organic matter in sediment, shrimp density and polychaete presence in WSSV affected shrimp ponds in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Ms. Eleonor Tendencia
The relation between pond management, mangrove ecosystem and disease outbreaks in shrimp farms in the Philippines, with particular reference to WSSV.



Theme 4:
Governance arrangements facilitating change in aquatic natural resource use

Governance is a political process that deals with how power is distributed between stakeholders, allowing different groups to participate, control and use resources in a way transparent to all others involved. Customary and state governance processes over natural resources are increasingly interdependent, linked by locally and globally scaled forces that create and regulate flows of information, commodities and finance. State and non-state institutional arrangements, with their associated political, socio-cultural and environmental histories, resulting from these global-local dynamics influence decision-making over aquatic resource use, regulation and management. Vietnam and Indonesia contrast two different sets of dynamics or development pathways to market liberalisation and control over the natural resources. The PhD studies in each country compare development pathways by focusing on coastal resources in the context of: agency and mobility of resource dependent populations; the material, technical, and environmental conditions of mariculture and fisheries development; the influence of national and trans-national forces over customary institutions; formal and informal access to information and trade; and the construction of knowledge between stakeholders at various scales. The sub-programme will provide a scientific basis for recommendations concerning improved governance arrangements of living aquatic resources both across coastal environments and socio-political national and international scales.

Ms. Tran Thi Thu Ha
Global and local governance over coastal zone management in the Mekong Delta, Viet Nam: the resilience of coastal communities to ecological change.

Ms. Rini Kusumawati
Coastal governance in Berau, Indonesia: shrimp production and trade.





Identification of stressors that affect White spot syndrome virus(WSSV) infection and outbreak in pond cultured Penaeus monodon; Tendencia (2010)

Scenarios for Resilient Shrimp Aquaculture in Tropical Coastal Areas; Bush et al(2010)

Effect of three innovative culture systems on water quality and whitespot syndrome virus (WSSV) viral load in WSSV-fed Penaeus monodon cultured in indoor tanks; Tendencia et al (2012)

SHORT COMMUNICATION, Effect of rainfall and atmospheric temperature on the prevalence of the whitespot syndrome virus in pondcultured Penaeus monodon; Tendencia et al (2010)

Temperature Fluctuation, Low Salinity, Water Microflora: Risk Factors for WSSV Outbreaks in Penaeus monodon; Tendencia (2010)

Challenges of a transition to a sustainably managed shrimp culture agro-ecosystem in the Mahakam delta, East Kalimantan, Indonesia; Bosma et al (2011)

Selected publications

S. Bush, P.A.M. van Zwieten, F. de Boer, R. Bosma, H. van Dijk, M. Verdegem, L. Visser, M. de Jong (in press) Scaled interactions of shrimp trade, livelihood decisions, disease management and coastal natural resources in Vietnam and Indonesia. Paper presented at DELTA 2007: Managing the Coastal Land-Water Interface in Tropical Delta Systems, 7-9 November Bang Saen, Thailand.

P.A.M. van Zwieten and S. Bush (2006), Scaled interactions of flows and places in shrimp culture and fisheries in Vietnam and Indonesia: the approach of the RESCOPAR program. Policy Brief to the International Forum Water and Food, 12-17 November, 2006, Vientiane

P.A.M. van Zwieten, S.A. Sidik, Noryadi, I. Suyatna and Abdunnur. (2006) Aquatic Food Production in the Coastal Zone: Data-Based Perceptions on the Trade-off between Mariculture and Fisheries Production of the Mahakam Delta and Estuary, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. In: C.T. Hoanh, T.P. Tuong, J.W. Gowing and B. Hardy (eds.). Environment and Livelihoods in Tropical Coastal Zones: Managing Agriculture - Fishery - Aquaculture Conflicts. CABI Publishing, UK, in association with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Sri Lanka. Pp. 219-236