The rapid increase and transition to more intensive agricultural activities in developing nations are often leading to misuse and overuse of pesticides, making their environment vulnerable for pesticide accumulation. In the present study, the Guayas river basin was taken as a representative case study to evaluate pesticide contamination of the Ecuadorean freshwater environment. Pesticide contamination was determined at 181 sampling sites by a multi-residue method using solid phase extraction (SPE) and pesticide residues were linked with agricultural land use activities to identify the main pollution sources. Moreover, the biological water quality status based on macroinvertebrate communities was determined at every location and the relation with the occurrence of pesticide residues was further investigated. Results showed that pesticide contamination of the freshwater environment was widely present in the Guayas river basin with detections at 108 sampling sites (60%). A total of 26 pesticide products were identified. Most frequently detected pesticides included cadusafos (62 locations), butachlor (21 locations) and pendimethalin (21 locations), with concentrations up to 0.081, 2.006 and 0.557 μg·L respectively. Pesticide residues detected in this study did not significantly influence the biological water quality (p = 0.69), but were observed to be positively correlated with ammonium concentrations, supporting the assumed combined application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture. These pesticide residues were also associated with one or more agricultural crops, with in particular the banana and rice industries identified as major pollution sources. Both high consumption rates and non-specific application methods, such as aerial spraying of banana plantations and application directly into the water layer of irrigated rice fields, may attribute to pesticide contamination of the freshwater environment of the Guayas river basin. It is therefore suggested that measures, e.g. legal regulations and awareness campaigns, taken to prevent environmental pollution and accumulation of pesticides primarily focus on these industries.
The fisheries sector significantly contributes to global food security, nutrition, and livelihood of people. Its importance for economic benefits, healthy diets, and nutrition, and achieving sustainable food systems is highlighted by several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), i.e., SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), and SDG 14 (Life Below Water). However, due to unprecedented population levels, the contribution of the fisheries sector to fulfills these roles is challenging, particularly given additional concerns regarding environmental well-being and sustainability. From this perspective, this study aims to identify the links and trade-offs between the development of this sector and the environmental sustainability in Thailand via a critical analysis of their trends, current ecological impacts, and more importantly, their contributions to several individual SDGs. A time-series of Thailand’s fisheries production from 1995 to 2015 indicates a recent reduction from around 3.0 million tons in 1995 to 1.5 million tons in 2015 of wild fish and shellfish from marine and freshwater habitats. The maximum sustainable yield of these species has been exceeded. Conversely, Thailand’s aquaculture production has continued to grow over the last decade, resulting in a reduction of mangrove forest area, wild fish stocks, and water quality. While capture fisheries and aquaculture production significantly contribute to several SDG targets, there are potential trade-offs between their development and the achievement of SDGs within the planet dimension, i.e., SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), SDG 13 (Climate Action), SDG 14, and SDG 15 (Life on Land). On the one hand, the mitigation of overfishing will be beneficial for the targets of SDG 14, leading to more sustainable resource management. On the other hand, it might cause a decrease in the volume of marine catches and economic and social profits. We conclude that the SDGs can serve as a framework for both policymakers and industrial workers to monitor and compromise on regulations that will optimize productivity in the context of sustainable development.
The quality of water prior to its use for drinking, farming or recreational purposes must comply with several physicochemical and microbiological standards to safeguard society and the environment. In order to satisfy these standards, expensive analyses and highly trained personnel in laboratories are required. Whereas macroinvertebrates have been used as ecological indicators to review the health of aquatic ecosystems. In this research, the relationship between microbial pathogens and macrobenthic invertebrate taxa was examined in the Machangara River located in the southern Andes of Ecuador, in which 33 sites, according to their land use, were chosen to collect physicochemical, microbiological and biological parameters. Decision tree models (DTMs) were used to generate rules that link the presence and abundance of some benthic families to microbial pathogen standards. The aforementioned DTMs provide an indirect, approximate, and quick way of checking the fulfillment of Ecuadorian regulations for water use related to microbial pathogens. The models built and optimized with the WEKA package, were evaluated based on both statistical and ecological criteria to make them as clear and simple as possible. As a result, two different and reliable models were obtained, which could be used as proxy indicators in a preliminary assessment of pollution of microbial pathogens in rivers. The DTMs can be easily applied by staff with minimal training in the identification of the sensitive taxa selected by the models. The presence of selected macroinvertebrate taxa in conjunction with the decision trees can be used as a screening tool to evaluate sites that require additional follow up analyses to confirm whether microbial water quality standards are met.
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