The demand for fisheries and aquaculture products is continuously increasing while natural aquatic resources continue to decline due to over-exploitation, environmental degradation and other problems (e.g. diseases). As such, the aquaculture sector will further intensify and develop, and this will be heavily based on the movement of live aquatic animals and their products from one country to another. Trade is important and will continue because it is a necessity for aquaculture development at both the subsistence and commercial scales. This is especially true along the Mekong River system where fisheries and aquaculture activities are highly active and often unregulated. Trading and movements (both legal and unregulated) of live aquatic organisms within the Mekong River system may also pose significant problems in terms of spread of trans-boundary aquatic animal diseases, introduction of unwanted species, and loss of genetic diversity. Unregulated industry operations may also bring about pollution and contamination along the Mekong River which may have negative implications on food safety and quality of aquaculture and fishery products. Although related regional and international guidelines and other documents on responsible movement of live aquatic animals are already available, a Code of Practice specific to the nature and condition of the Mekong River system/environment is currently lacking. Thus, it is high time that this Code is developed for implementation in the LMB.
This Code of Practice is prepared to promote or ensure compliance to World Trade Organisation-Sanitary and Phytosanitary (WTO-SPS) measures for the movement of live aquatic organisms in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB). The long-term goals of the Code are to achieve environmental protection and management, biodiversity conservation as well as prevention of spread of disease epizootics. Most of the important points listed in this Code are based on the inputs of MRC Member Countries through national reviews on the Impacts of Exotic Species on Natural Environment and Aquaculture.
This Code requires MRC Member Countries to take responsibility in determining what aspects of the different activities related to transboundary movement of aquatic animals in the LMB that may bring significant risks to the environment, biodiversity as well as to the
aquaculture and fishery industries in the region. The Code further requires members to formulate, develop and implement necessary actions to mitigate the negative impacts of aquatic animal species introductions, especially exotics, into the LMB.
The Code is approved by the Technical Advisory Body on Fisheries Management in the LMB (TAB). The approved Code will be guidance for LMB countries to consider developing and formulating their national codes accordingly to mitigate the negative impacts from unregulated movement within and across national boundaries and for economic, social and development purposes in the LMB.