FAO and NACA organised the Regional Workshop on the Status of Aquatic Genetic Resources in Asia-Pacific at Hotel Centara Grand Ladprao, Bangkok from 23-26 March 2015. This was the first workshop in the series of four to be conducted globally by FAO. The workshop was intended to enhance the capacity of national focal Points on Aquatic Genetic Resources within Asia-Pacific Region regarding the preparation of national reports on the current status of aquatic genetic resources for food and agriculture (use, conservation and management). These will be used as the major source of information for the first State of the World’s Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture report, under the umbrella of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA).
The national focal points from fifteen countries in Asia; Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Japan, South Korea and the Pacific participated in the workshop, along with Fiji and global experts. FAO staff including Dr Devin Bartley, Dr Halwart Matthias and NACA staff Dr Kuldeep K. Lal facilitated the process of workshop with expert input from Dr Graham Mair (Australia), Dr Tim Pickering (SPC), Dr Clemens Fieseler (Germany) and Dr Ruth Garcia Gomez (FAO consultant).
The workshop started with the welcome address from Dr Cherdsak Veerapat, Director General of NACA and opening remarks by Dr Devin Bartley. The workshop was opened by Dr Miao Weimen, FAORAP, Bangkok on behalf of Dr H. Konuma, ADG, FAO Office for Asia pacific, Bangkok. The participants were given an appraisal on the theme and concept of this workshop through four expert presentations on workshop content, process, expected outcomes and outputs and introduction to the CGRFA by Devin Bartley. The Aquatic Genetic Resources Component of CGRFA and the steps towards the State of the World’s Aquatic Genetic Resources report were addressed by Matthias Halwart; the German National Technical Programme on the conservation and sustainable use of aquatic genetic resources by Clemens Fieseler and perspectives on aquatic genetic resources management and conservation in Asia-Pacific by Kuldeep K. Lal.
The national focal points and experts discussed each chapter of the report in the respective groups. The groups also prepared each chapter as an exercise with information from one member country as an example followed by a presentation on the chapter by respective group. This exercise was found useful by the national focal points as this not only provided them first hand feel of the whole questionnaire but also served as useful feedback for FAO colleagues to incorporate suggested modifications in the report format.
A one day field visit was organised by NACA for the delegates to see the activities related to aquatic genetic resources in Thailand. The forenoon session was devoted to observing activities at the Thai Department of Fisheries Inland Fisheries Research Station at Bangsai. In addition to various aquaculture activities, an interesting feature was on farm conservation of the Mekong giant catfish Pangasianodon gigas, a near extinct species conserved through a dedicated breeding program. In the afternoon delegates visited National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) at Thailand Science Park. Here delegates were exposed to the activities through presentations about BIOTEC and its shrimp biotechnology program by Dr Sirawut Klingbunga, Director of the Animal Biotechnology Research Unit. The delegates visited the laboratories and also the pilot testing plant.
The technical session resumed on March 26, 2015 with the exercise on chapters. The exercise on drafting eight chapters of the State of the World’s Aquatic Genetic Resources report were completed during the stipulated time. The delegates found the training useful and will help them to facilitate the process of preparing country reports for submission the FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and this accomplished the objective of this workshop.