Integrated Information System

What is environmental and sanitary risk integrated management?

Risk assessments and decision-making in aquaculture depend on ensuring that the industry does not exceed its carrying capacity. The multifaceted nature of aquaculture currently brings up many forms of carrying capacity. Physical (available space limitations), of production (based on operational details), ecological (greater environmental impacts on water quality and trophic networks that surround farms), economic (which dictates when the industry is profitable) and social (which is detailed when the industry has been considered socially acceptable by the community in general).

All these forms of operating capacities are interconnected.  Respecting them all is necessary to guarantee the welfare and long-term prosperity of the aquaculture industry. Ignoring the systemic nature of its risks means that certain risks facing the industry could be underestimated by up to 90% (Poledna et al., 2015).

Experience elsewhere indicates that it becomes necessary the use of a toolbox that includes various modeling approaches and information delivery systems to work successfully with all these different carrying capacities (Mc Kindsey et al., 2006).

In the management of natural resources, between commercial producers (as in agriculture and aquaculture) and in corporate business, dual cycle of adaptive learning is recognized as a universal standard of good practice.

This cycle considers:

  1. Defining objectives
  2. Identifying reference points and thresholds (namely blank (preferably) or unwanted states)
  3. Identifying indicators to describe performance against associated objectives, benchmarks and thresholds
  4. Taking actions (and decisions)
  5. Evaluating the system’s new performance given the decisions made
  6. Making new decisions

The delivery of this type of decisions requires sharing and integrating all available sources of information in all aspects of the system of interest.

When facing complex decisions, the natural reaction is to focus on solving immediate problems – in terms of time and scope. In industries such as aquaculture, this response leads to a reactive mode of decision-making focused on short-term tactical decisions.

The standard solution that supports this kind of responses in aquaculture industry would be tools that combine databases, data integration tools, visualization platforms (for example control boards) and numerical modeling (Mc Kindsey et al., 2006) in an integrated information system.

An integrated information system is a combination of software that combine different databases from various sources with data integration tools, visualization and models.

For a complex area such as aquaculture, a single software becomes insufficient, or very complex and therefore very uncertain or undecidable. For this reason, an integrated information system uses a combination of low or medium complexity models (MICE), which operate with the necessary components of unitary processes, each of them providing robust and verifiable solutions. The integrated information system, by assembling them together, allows to construct and explore complex solutions.

A system is formed by linking data to the modeling system, which can be used for informed decision making at different time scales. For example, short term tactical decisions, in the face of a sanitary or environmental emergency; or medium to long-term strategic decisions, for example facing changes in global markets.

Without such systems, both industry operators and those who define regulations will base their systems on imperfect systems of information collection and management and will make decision processes more rigid and subjective.