Sustainable aquaculture and aquatic resources management

By Imtiaz Ahmad, 22/09/2010 | .mp3, 6.9 MB | 1031 views | Download soundtrack Stream soundtrack
Programme: Global Conference on Aquaculture 2010

Global production of fish from aquaculture has grown substantially during the past decade, reaching 52.5 million tonnes in 2008 compared with 32.4 million tonnes in 2000. Aquaculture continues to be the fastest growing animal food producing sector and currently accounts for nearly half (45.6 percent) of the world’s food fish. Although precise data are lacking on some aspects of the impact of aquaculture, it is apparent that aquaculture’s contribution to poverty reduction, food security, employment, trade and gender opportunities increased over the past decade. With stagnating global capture fishery production and an increasing population, aquaculture is perceived as having the greatest potential to produce more fish to meet the growing demand for safe and quality aquatic food.

Global aquaculture, however, has not grown evenly around the world. There are marked intra and inter-regional and country variations in a number of areas, such as production level, species composition, farming systems and producer profile. The Asia-Pacific region continues to significantly dominate the aquaculture sector globally, accounting for more than 90 percent of global production, with China alone contributing more than two-thirds of global production.

In case of species, few countries dominate production of major species, such as carps by China, shrimps and prawns by China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and India, and salmon by Norway and Chile. In terms of farming systems, while all three systems - extensive, semi-intensive and intensive - are practiced in most of the regions, intensive system is more prevalent in North America and in advanced aquaculture producing countries in Europe and Latin America. In the Asia-Pacific region, despite major technical developments in the aquaculture sector, small-scale commercial producers continue to remain the backbone of the sector for their significant contributions. Small-scale producers and small and medium entrepreneurs are also important players in the Africa region. Commercial and industrial scale producers dominate in Latin America, but there is strong potential for development of small-scale producers.

Over the past decade, a number of developments have contributed to the significant growth of the global aquaculture sector, namely: formulation and implementation of policies, strategies, plans and legislations; dissemination and use of applied research; and emergence of new domestic and international markets.

An increasing number of countries have formulated or are in the process of formulating fisheries policies, strategies, plans and legislations that facilitate growth and efficient management of the aquaculture sector. For example, in Africa, the spectacular development of aquaculture in some countries, such as Nigeria, Egypt, Uganda and Mozambique, has been due to government policies in favour of the private sector. There are also cases of many countries using aquaculture legislation to address competition for scarce land and water resources from other development activities through, for example, zoning.

Over the past decade, the Asia-Pacific region has contributed to two significant R and D programmes: the development of Genetic Improvement of Farmed Tilapia (GIFT), strain of Nile Tilapia, a landmark achievement in the history of genetic improvement of tropical finfish; and the closing of the life cycle of southern bluefin tuna, Thunnus maccoyii. R and D achievements in Europe have also contributed to improved efficiency of farming systems, leading to production of better quality of fish. Examples of new technologies include the development of underwater surveillance to manage feeding and biomass; and the development of integrated multi-trophic production systems. Further, to address the issue of sustainability of using fishmeal and fish oil in aquafeeds, global research efforts continue to find affordable and high-quality plant and animal-based feed ingredients. The regional networks of aquaculture centres have also been playing a vital role in disseminating research findings.

In line with the increased growth of global aquaculture production, there has been an impressive development of trade in many aquaculture products. Two aquatic products from the Asia-Pacific region stand out: white-legged shrimp, P. vannamei; and the explosive growth of the tra catfish, Pangiasonodon hypophthalmus, farmed in Vietnam. Further, there has been an increasing globalisation of the fisheries value chain, or outsourcing of certain processing operations to third countries with lower labour costs. Another parallel development is the integration of producing and processing activities, as in the case of salmon by large producers in Latin America. While the demand for aquaculture products continues to increase, there is growing recognition to address consumers’ concerns for quality and safe products, and animal health and welfare. Thus issues such as food safety, traceability, certification and eco-labeling are becoming increasingly important and considered as high priority by many governments. The global aquaculture sector’s long-term goal to achieve economic, social and environmental sustainability primarily depends on continued commitments by governments to provide and support a good governance framework for the sector. It is encouraging that the experience of the past decade indicates that many governments remain committed to good governance.

As the sector further expands, intensifies and diversifies, it should take into cognisant the environmental and social concerns, and make conscious efforts to address those in a transparent manner. In the process, the sector should also prepare itself to face the potential impacts of climate change and global economic crisis, and make special efforts to assist small-scale producers by organising them into associations and through promotion of better management practices, as has been successfully demonstrated in many countries. It is hoped that, as the new decade unfolds, a stronger and confident sector will stand ready to face and overcome the future challenges and move further along the sustainability path.



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