First Session

Beijing, China, 18-22 April 2002



1. Aquaculture1 is one of the fastest growing food producing sectors of the world and has achieved a reputation as a significant contributor to poverty alleviation, food security and income generation. The decision to establish the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture under the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) reflects the importance that FAO Member Governments attach to aquaculture development. Nevertheless, some forms of production practice have, justifiably, been identified as unsustainable and the cause of negative environmental and socio-economic impacts. This disparity indicates the need to further discuss issues relating to sectoral sustainability, with a view to ensuring that the aquaculture sector provides a fair and equitable contribution to mankind. The document analyses production trends (based on FAO statistics), examines major issues of sustainability, discusses prospects and challenges in improving aquaculture's contribution towards reducing poverty, improving food security, assisting rural livelihoods and enhancing national income generation.


2. This document provides the Sub-Committee with (a) a brief overview of global aquaculture production trends based on FAO aquaculture statistics (1970 - 1999) and (b) information on some of the key issues surrounding aquaculture development and future prospects of the sector. The document also addresses the challenges that FAO Member Governments may face during the process of sustainable aquaculture development, and seeks views and advice from the Sub-Committee on how FAO could assist Member Governments in meeting these challenges.


3. Aquaculture is an important domestic provider of much needed, high quality, animal protein, generally at prices affordable to the poorer segments of society. It is also a valuable provider of employment, cash income and foreign exchange, with developing countries contributing over 90% of the total global production. When integrated carefully, aquaculture also provides low-risk entry points for rural development and has diverse applications in both inland and coastal areas.

4. In 1999, 42.77 million metric tons (mmt) of aquatic products (including plants) valued at US$ 53.56 thousand million were produced, with more than half of the production being finfish2. The 1999 aquatic production (excluding aquatic plants) was 33.31 mmt, valued at US$ 47.87 thousand million. Over 200 species of aquatic organisms are farmed globally, this large number reflecting the wide range of candidate species available and the diversity of production systems employed.
5. In 1999, over half (54.7%) of global aquaculture production originated from marine and brackish coastal waters, while the remainder (45.3%) was from freshwater. Freshwater production was dominated by finfish (98.0%). In brackishwater, high-value crustaceans and finfish dominated aquaculture production (56.2% and 35.7%, respectively), while molluscs and aquatic plants constitute the bulk of marine water production (46.6% and 44.4%, respectively).
6. The top five cultivated finfish species were cyprinids, which represent over half of total global finfish aquaculture production. However, the annual percent rate of growth (APR) of such filter-feeding species has been markedly reduced during recent years, since carnivorous finfishes generally command higher market values than filter feeding or omnivorous fish. Although carnivorous fish represented only 12.7% of total global finfish production, by weight, in 1999, they accounted for 34.7% of total production by value.
7. Marine and brackishwater shrimp continued to dominate crustacean aquaculture, with three penaeid species accounting for over 82% of total shrimp aquaculture production in 1999. Although the giant tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) only ranked thirteenth in terms of global aquaculture production by weight in 1999, it ranked first in value. In terms of APR, shrimp production has decreased to modest growth levels over the last decade (averaging 6%), compared with double-digit growth rates observed during the past two decades (e.g. 24% in late 1970s).
8. Global mollusc production topped 10 mmt in 1999 and growth of this sector has been steady, averaging APRs of 5.5% in the seventies, 7.4% in the eighties and 12.1% in the nineties.
9. Farmed aquatic plant production in 1999 reached 9.4 mmt, with relatively steady growth, averaging 8.2% per year from 1970 to 1999.
10. In terms of global food fish supply (i.e. the production of aquatic finfish and shellfish products on a whole live weight basis, and excluding aquatic plants), the aquaculture sector produced 33.31 mmt of farmed aquatic products in 1999, compared with the 63.9 mmt from capture fisheries destined for direct human consumption. Moreover, seafood supply from aquaculture has increased thirteen-fold from 0.69 kg per caput in 1970 to 5.57 kg per caput in 1999, with an average growth rate of 9.2% per year. In contrast, food fish from capture fisheries has remained relatively static, increasing from 10.20 kg per caput in 1970 to only 10.68 per caput kg in 1999 (i.e. 63.86 mmt in 1999, excluding captured fish destined for reduction into fishmeal). Based on the above data, over 34.3% of the total global seafood supply was from aquaculture in 1999.
11. The total global production of farmed aquatic meat (i.e. fresh weight of finfish - gutted, head on; crustaceans - tails/meat, peeled; molluscs - meat, without shells) increased fourteen-fold from 1.42 mmt in 1970 (0.38 kg/caput) to 20.35 mmt in 1999 (3.40 kg/caput). During the past two decades, farmed aquatic meat production has grown at an average APR of 9.6%, three times faster than total terrestrial meat production (APR 2.9%). Although aquaculture currently ranks fourth in terms of global farmed meat production, in China it ranks second only to pork production.
12. During the last two decades, food fish from capture fisheries and aquaculture represented 15.9% of the total animal protein supply, higher than all other meat products. People living in Asia and Africa (including Low-Income Food Deficit Countries or LIFDCs3) are much more dependent on fish as part of their daily diets than are people living in other regions of the world.


13. Approximately 90.3% of total aquaculture production in 1999 was produced by developing countries (82.5% from LIFDCs) and growth of the aquaculture sector in these countries has increased over six times faster than in developed countries over the last decade period. In terms of finfish, developing countries produce mainly omnivorous, herbivorous, and filter-feeding fish species, whilst developed countries produce mainly higher value carnivorous fish species.

14. In 1999, over 90.9% of the total aquaculture production by weight was produced by the Asian Region (38.89 mmt). Europe accounted for 4.9% of total production (2.10 mmt); North America, 1.7% (0.73 mmt); South America, 1.5% (0.63 mmt), Africa 0.7% (0.28 mmt) and Oceania 0.3% (0.14 mmt). The top ten aquaculture producing countries were located in the Asian region, with China contributing 30.04 mmt or 70.2% to global aquaculture production. If mainland China is excluded from this analysis, however, the growth in aquaculture production in the rest of the world has been more modest, increasing over five fold from 1970 to 1999. The highs of 7.4% and 7.3% during the seventies and eighties, decreased to 4.1% during the nineties.

15. Analyses of aquaculture development trends carried out by FAO and NACA4 in 1999, for the Conference of Aquaculture in the Third Millennium highlighted the following regional scenarios5:

Asia: This region dominates global aquaculture production in terms of quantity, value and diversity, thus, many of the emerging issues of aquaculture can be found here. Asian aquaculture development policy is in transition from a purely technical and economic focus towards social objectives that include poverty alleviation, livelihood development, food security, and linkage of sustainable aquaculture practices to trade. The importance of small-scale, socially oriented aquaculture is increasingly recognized, and recent initiatives have been made to focus governments and regional organizations on this issue. In contrast, technical and production-related issues are increasingly being left to the private sector to manage. Concurrent with this, the role of the fish farmer is changing from solely raising fish to being a part of a production network ensuring delivery of safe, high-quality products to the consumer. This is particularly apparent in the high value, commercial parts of the sector. The link made to production practices and their impacts on the environment, on one hand, and trade, on the other hand, has been reflected in recent regional and national programmes.
Africa: Ninety-five percent of African aquaculture is estimated to be small scale, with fish ponds integrated into the mosaic of agricultural activities. Mean yield is approximated as 500 kg/ha/yr, although the range is wide, from less than 100 to more than 10 000 kg/ha/yr. A typical scenario would be a 300 m2 pond producing 15 kg a year relying on family labour and on-farm inputs. There is little reporting of production from the region's many reservoirs, although these are often exploited by nearby communities. Commercial finfish culture is fresh- or brackish-water. Marine shrimp, mussels, oysters, abalone and seaweed are also cultured in some countries. Fish consumption has been decreasing, from 9 kg per capita in 1990 to 6 kg per person at present. This represents a decrease in supply relative to growing African populations. Sub-Saharan Africa includes much under-utilized water and land resources, available and inexpensive labour, high demand for fish, and a climate that favours a year-round growing period. However, optimal use of these resources has frequently been curtailed by poor infrastructure and lack of production inputs. The potential for expansion is considerable, but requires several enabling factors that include: a positive perception of aquaculture, sound policies at the national level, strong public institutions, availability of nutrient inputs, conducive investment policies to attract increased private-sector participation and access to credit for commercial-scale enterprises.
Europe: The critical features of aquaculture as a natural resource-based sector have been recognized within the European Union (EU), but there is a need to strengthen aquaculture policy in countries where aquaculture is not yet considered as an equal-right user of resources. Research and development support have concentrated on the technical aspects, so that there is a need to increase emphasis on environmental and social aspects required for sustainability and competitiveness. Other constraints include increasing market competition, falling or static prices, and rising production and marketing costs. In Central and Eastern Europe, the absorption capacity of markets has shrunk due to decreased purchasing power and most of their products are not competitive in export markets. For the whole of Europe, competition from relatively cheap imports from other regions is another problem. Another trend seen in European aquaculture is less government intervention. However, the need is seen for centralized regulations, coordinated efforts to ensure equitable allocation of resources, sustainable management practices and more public participation in decision-making. The development of institutional capacities still requires considerable national and international effort in Central and Eastern Europe, with special regard to quality and disease control, training facilities including expertise in business management and information systems. Intra-European exchange of information and collaboration among institutions has been strong. In addition, producer organizations are emerging as an important source of price and market information for their members, as well as fora to develop common policies on a wide range of issues.
Former USSR Area: The two main directions of aquaculture development in the region are: i) revitalization of existing, formerly prosperous inland aquaculture, consisting mainly of pond fishfarm complexes; and (ii) further development of culture-based fisheries. The share of coastal and marine culture may also increase from the present eight percent of volume, however, freshwater aquaculture will remain dominant, given the region's tremendous freshwater resources. Integration with other sectors should be considered as much as possible in developing the region's aquaculture. One bright spot is that professional and personal linkages have survived the political reorganization of the USSR and provide a good basis for future regional collaboration. The establishment of producers' associations is another positive development towards improving the exchange of information among enterprises within the region. However, although the Russian Federation and most countries in the region have signed major international treaties, many remain inadequately represented in international organizations.
Latin America: The aquaculture sector in Latin America tends to place priority on the generation of foreign exchange. Although industrial aquaculture has generated a lot of employment in some countries, the real potential of the region lies in medium- and small-scale rural aquaculture, which strongly depends on government participation in aquaculture development. Small-scale aquaculture development, however, is limited by difficulties arising from macro-economic policies, privatization and national budget reductions. Indeed, the current trend away from state involvement may actually serve to constrain such development. As Latin America moves away from "big government", rural aquafarmers will need to find alternatives to support development. With industrial aquaculture, the governments are providing an enabling environment rather than taking a direct role. The availability of land for the expansion of export-oriented aquaculture, such as shrimp culture, is not a problem; only 16 percent of the available area suitable for shrimp culture is under cultivation. It is estimated that an additional 2-3 mmt of fish will be required for Latin American consumption by 2010.
Near East: Freshwater aquaculture development will be shaped by national water and land polices. Reduction in groundwater levels, prohibition in the use of fresh water, and competition with agriculture, the petroleum industry and tourism are major constraints that must be resolved to facilitate aquaculture development. Availability of seed and feed are crucial technological constraints. The high price of feed, exacerbated by currency fluctuation and high variable costs, has raised production costs. Inadequate policies, legislation and regulatory frameworks; poor cooperation between institutions and agencies; weak extension services and the slow dissemination of technology are other major constraints. Most aquaculture produce, especially tilapia, carps and grey mullet, is consumed locally. Cultured marine species are produced for export, but the high prices obtained locally and new and more costly European Union (EU) regulations have combined to discourage exports of these high-value species. Scarcity of water and land, competition from other users, and rising input costs are encouraging intensification.
North America: In both Canada and the United States, there is strong institutional support for aquaculture and government commitments to foster industry expansion. In Canada, aquaculture contributes $CDN 1 thousand million to the economy annually and employs approximately 14 000 people. In recognition of the importance of this sector to the socio-economic development of rural and coastal communities, including aboriginal groups, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (the Authority responsible for aquaculture in Canada) established a Program and Office for Sustainable Aquaculture in 2000. This is aimed at supporting the development potential for Canadian aquaculture (freshwater finfish, plus marine fish and shellfish) which has the potential to reach a value of $CDN 3 thousand million by 2010. In the United States, the Department of Commerce recently established an aquaculture policy to promote the development of a highly competitive and sustainable aquaculture industry. The objectives of this 1999 policy include a forecast increase in production from the current US$ 900 million to US$ 5 thousand million by the year 2025, and an increase in aquaculture employment from 180 000 to 600 000 people. This is driven by the United States' need to meet increasing seafood demands and to help offset the US$ 6 thousand million annual trade deficit in edible seafood products. Competing demands on natural resources, access to fresh water and restrictions on effluent discharge are leading issues the industry must address. This will be accomplished in part by encouraging offshore production and promoting intensive partial-recirculatory systems.
South-Pacific: The Pacific Island nations have many attributes that favour development of aquaculture and stock enhancement in the coastal zone. However, there are still several constraints for such enterprises - limited domestic markets, targeting of high value-added export markets, transport problems, socio-economic factors, fragile habitats, limited fresh water and cyclones. Some of the best opportunities for aquaculture development in the Pacific are in the aquarium trade (coral reef fish, hard and soft corals), live seafood markets (e.g. groupers, spiny lobsters, abalone, crabs) and the pharmaceutical industry (e.g. algae, sponges, soft corals). Typically the products are of high value and can be grown in small areas with relatively simple technology for seaweed and mollusc systems to more complex fish and crustacean culture systems.

16. FAO production statistics show that the trend of increasing APR during the 1980s changed during the 1990s. Although production still increased during the 1990s, the rate of increase declined or was static in some regions of the world, particularly in Asia. On the other hand, sectoral growth kept pace with increasing populations in most regions, except Africa and the countries of the former USSR. Expectations of continued, or increased, rates of growth in global aquaculture may, therefore, be unrealistic.

17. The sector should not be complacent if it is to achieve sustainable long-term growth, in the next few decades. Even though aquaculture is still undergoing positive growth, the sector presently accounts for only about 30 percent of the total aquatic food supply. Since a significant increase in demand for fish over the next few decades is predicted, and contribution from capture fisheries have remained relatively static between 1970 and 1999, it is likely that the bulk of the increase in supply required to meet this demand will come from aquaculture (see COFI:AQ/I/2002/3). Therefore, it is important that growth keeps pace with demand.


18. While export-oriented, industrial and commercial aquaculture practices bring much needed foreign exchange, revenue and employment, more extensive forms of aquaculture benefit the livelihoods of the poor through improved food supply, reduced vulnerability, employment, and increased income.

19. Fisheries enhancements using appropriate culture techniques also provide important opportunities for resource-poor people to benefit from enhanced use of under-utilized, new or degraded resources. Such culture-based fisheries have considerable potential to increase fish supplies from both freshwater and marine fisheries, with concomitant income generation in rural inland and coastal communities.

20. The challenge is to create an enabling environment for optimizing the potential benefits and contribution that aquaculture and culture-based fisheries can make to rural development, food security and poverty alleviation. Improved participatory farming/production practices within the framework of sustainable, integrated, co-management of natural resources will improve their use. People-centered development and extension management approaches, ensuring capacity building that focuses on culture systems for aquatic species feeding low in the food chain, will provide the low-cost products favoured by poorer rural communities. The role of aquaculture in rural development is extensively considered in the working document COFI:AQ/I/2002/3.


21. During the past three decades, aquaculture has expanded, diversified, intensified and advanced technologically. The potential of this development to enhance local food security, poverty alleviation and improved rural livelihoods has been well-recognized. The Bangkok Declaration and Strategy6 emphasizes that the aquaculture sector should continue to be developed towards its full potential, making a net contribution to global food availability, domestic food security, economic growth, trade and improved living standards.
22. In order to achieve its full potential, aquaculture should be pursued as an integral component of community development, contributing to sustainable livelihoods for promoting human development and enhancing social well-being of poorer sectors. Aquaculture policies and regulations should promote practical and economically viable farming and management practices that are environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable.
23. If aquaculture is to attain its full potential, the sector may require new approaches in the coming decades. These approaches will undoubtedly vary in different regions and countries, and the challenge is to develop approaches that are realistic and achievable within each social, economic, environmental and political circumstance. In an era of globalization and trade liberalization, such approaches should not only focus on increasing production, they should also focus on producing a product that is affordable, acceptable and accessible to all sectors of society.
24. Considerable political will is required to establish effective, sustainable approaches to ensure aquaculture development. Appropriate mechanisms are needed and institutional capacities must be strengthened to assure better planning and management. This involves the adoption of various policy measures which may include extensive consultation with, and/or participation of, those affected by the proposed policy measures, strict adoption of the principles of inter-generation equity, and recognition of the need to devolve management to the lowest practical level of responsibility. Appropriate legal frameworks, new skills and improved capacities, especially for policy analysis at the sectoral and project levels, as well as new and efficient means of communication, are necessary. Institutional strengthening and local training are also important to enable decentralized management.
25. The major issues and concerns that need to be addressed to ensure overall sustainability of the aquaculture sector include:


26. Historically, most aquaculture practices around the world have been pursued with significant social, economic and nutritional benefits, and with minimal environmental costs. However, the sector has been the focus of recent public debate related to negative environmental and social impacts. There is some basis for these accusations - in certain parts of the world and in certain aquaculture sectors, there have been some inadequately-planned and inappropriately managed forms of aquaculture that have created significant social and environmental problems. Typically, these impacts arise from weak regulatory frameworks and increased commercial potential of some high value species.

27. Globally, aquaculture is still predominantly rural, producing species low in the food chain that require little or no inputs or capital investment (over 80% of total global finfish production is cyprinid fishes). This means aquaculture makes a significant, grass-roots, contribution to improving livelihoods among the poorer sectors of society. Pressure to overexploit resources under such circumstances has been as significant in aquaculture development as it has been historically in capture fisheries. However, it is important to examine the lessons learnt from past experience and develop strategies for improved sustainability of this important sector. Reduction of externalities and negative social and environmental impacts, through consultative planning, and dedicated co-management will ensure sustainable benefits.

Policy and institutional and legal environment

28. The need to develop and adopt policies and practices that ensure environmental sustainability, requires environmentally sound technologies and farming systems based on solid scientific knowledge. Increasing the efficiency of resource use, and productivity at the farm level, contributes significantly to sectoral sustainability. Adoption of a "systems approach" to management, improved water management, better feeding strategies, more environmentally friendly feeds, genetically fit stocks, improved health management, integration with agriculture etc., are important and many of these issues are addressed in the Fisheries Department's (FAO-FI) work programme (see also COFI:AQ/I/2002/3).

29. The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF)7 includes provisions for sustainable development and management of aquaculture. The FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries8 provides annotations to the principles of Article 9 - Aquaculture Development of the CCRF, intended to facilitate its implementation. FAO has been assisting member countries to adapt the Code to local conditions and to develop necessary institutional and legal frameworks. Analysis of the progress of implementation of the CCRF, FAO's assistance to Member Governments, future prospects, opportunities and challenges are discussed in the working document COFI:AQ/I/2002/4.
30. Development of, and support for, implementation of improved management practices and codes of good practice for aquaculture sectors, supported by enforceable regulations and policy, are essential for sectoral sustainability. FAO's activities towards sustainable shrimp aquaculture and implementation of the relevant provisions of the CCRF are highlighted in working document COFI:AQ/I/2002/4.
31. One of the key factors that support creation of an enabling environment is strong institutional capacity, that is, the ability of countries and organizations to strengthen and implement policy and regulatory frameworks that are both transparent and enforceable. The Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium identified several key recommendations that would help develop conducive institutional and policy environments. These include:

Integrated coastal management

32. To ensure that aquaculture developments are within local and regional carrying capacities, it is important to integrate aquaculture into coastal and inland watershed management plans. Adoption of integrated planning and co-management of common resources with relevant stakeholders is vital for maintaining and improving sustainability. FAO, under the GESAMP9 framework, has been developing guidelines for management of sustainable coastal aquaculture development. The guidelines, designed for policy makers and general planners, present basic principles and procedures for using integrated planning approaches, along with tools to facilitate these procedures. Guidelines specific to coastal aquaculture development, provide an in-depth review of appropriate tools and their application. These guidelines are relevant to both developed and developing countries10.

Investment aspects and commercial aquaculture

33. Investment is an integral component of sustainable aquaculture development at both small-scale and commercial/industrial levels. Investment aimed at sustainable development by the private sector, is one of the most significant contributions to aquaculture. Nevertheless, public-sector finance for capacity building, institutional development and infrastructure is also required to ensure well managed and efficient aquaculture development.

34. Recognizing the important role that commercial aquaculture can play in improving food security and alleviating poverty, FAO-FI promotes this sector, in addition to subsistence and non-commercial aquaculture. A series of studies aimed at providing a thorough understanding of the socio-economic, marketing, policy, legal, regulatory and institutional aspects of commercial aquaculture in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in other parts of the world, have been conducted. This produced guidelines for assessing potential markets for aquaculture products. These studies provide useful tools for potential aquaculturists to assess market potential prior to making an investment decision (see also working paper COFI:AQ/I/2002/3)11.


35. Appropriate technologies contribute to aquaculture sustainability with a variety of mechanisms that can meet the needs of the local environment. Delivery of such techniques requires effective communication networks, reliable data and help with the decision-making process to ensure aquaculture producers choose the best production systems and species for their environment.

36. Science and technology provide ongoing `new' opportunities for aquaculture development including: techniques for sustainable stock enhancement, ranching programmes and open ocean aquaculture; use of aquatic plants and animals for nutrient stabilization; integrated systems to improve environmental performance, such as, recirculating systems, integrated water use, artificial upwelling and ecosystem food web management.

37. Although considered to be a relatively novel concept, some biotechnologies have a long history of application, e.g. fertilization of ponds to increase feed availability. Others are more modern, based on rapidly evolving knowledge of molecular biology and genetics, e.g. genetic engineering and DNA-probe development for disease diagnostics. The application of gene biotechnology in aquaculture focuses primarily on increasing growth rates, but also addresses enhancement of disease resistance and physiological tolerance of environmental extremes.

38. Biotechnology encompasses a wide range of approaches that have the potential to improve both subsistence and commercial aquaculture production through, e.g. improved nutritive value of aquafeeds, improved aquatic animal health, more efficient use of resources, restoration and protection of rural environments, extending the range of aquatic species under culture, and increasing accuracy of risk assessment for improved management and conservation of wild stocks. Such procedures have greatly assisted aquaculturists with domestication of many aquatic species, and other molecular techniques have proved useful for aquatic animal health management (e.g., creation of vaccines and enhanced disease diagnostic specificity and sensitivity).

39. A key consideration in transferring molecular technologies to the aquaculture sector, however, is that they should be used with due protection of aquatic diversity and with due consideration given to potential impacts on the autonomy and economy of rural and subsistence populations. Over the next decades, the emphasis on biotechnology and its contribution to food security, poverty alleviation, and income generation will increase and FAO should be prepared to address the challenge of developing these technologies in a responsible manner

Quality, safety and trade of aquatic products

40. Quality, safety and trade of aquaculture products are important aspects of a sustainable industry. These issues are dealt with by the COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade, however, it is appropriate to mention that the importance of attaining sustainable aquaculture with negligible/minimal environmental or socio-economic impacts is forcing many exporting countries to adopt and implement more sustainable production practices.

41. This is especially important where aquaculture is perceived to be a non-traditional food-producing sector. Safety assessments, based on risk assessment and the precautionary approach, for example, are now becoming more common, before pursuing production of new or exotic species, or products from modern biotechnology.

42. The role of aquaculture in international trade is increasing both in the relative and absolute sense. This is a result of increasing aquacultural production in general and of high-value commercial export-directed production in particular. As international trade statistics do not denote production methods of fishery products (capture or aquaculture), it is for most commodities not possible to determine the exact share of aquaculture products in commodity trade. However, recent legislative iniatiatives, such as new labelling requirements in the European Community, introduced in 2002, which distinguish farmed and wild products, coupled with increased demands for traceability of food products for food safety reasons, should improve the quality of international trade data and facilitate better and more accurate aquaculture trade analysis.

43. While the pros and cons of labelling and certification schemes are being discussed and debated in international fora, some governments and several industry organizations and NGOs are pursuing the establishment of procedures based on good management practices, codes of conduct and farm-level management practices.

44. A trend towards consumer preference for organically produced aquatic products is increasing. The aquaculture sector lags behind agriculture in terms of the quantities and diversity of certified "organic" produce - reflecting a lack of accepted international/regional/national standards and accreditation criteria for organic aquaculture produce. Existing certifying bodies and organic aquaculturists are, primarily, restricted to a handful of organizations in developed countries of Europe, Oceania and North America which contributed less than 10% to the global aquaculture production in 1999.

45. Although no official statistics are available for global production of certified organic aquaculture products, it is estimated that such production in 2000 was only about 5 000 mt, primarily from European countries. This represents a mere 0.01% of total global aquaculture production and 0.25% of European aquaculture production. The total volume of organic aquaculture products marketed in Europe in 2000 is estimated at between 4 400 and 4 700 mt. Negligible production data is available for countries outside Europe.

46. Organic certification and other "eco-certification" programmes are being discussed and established by various agencies and groups. These empower consumers to choose aquaculture products with perceived higher quality or health attributes and grown in an environmentally sound manner. Price premiums for organically grown food products generally range between 10 to 50 percent above conventional products. Higher prices give aquaculturists incentives to produce organic products, but incur higher production costs associated with environmental protection measures. Where certification is non-discriminatory and based on sound science-based technical standards, it can help consumers use their purchasing power to encourage environmentally sound production practices. The issue is whether FAO, as a competent technical organization providing assistance to its member countries, should become involved in developing technical guidelines and setting the standards for these activities, as has been the case for agricultural and livestock products within the joint FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, to ensure the process is based on best scientific knowledge, and is fair and non-discriminatory.

47. Awareness of, and sensitivity to, environmental and welfare issues is increasing, particularly in developed countries where purchase decisions can be influenced by adverse publicity or a lack of information. As livestock farmers, aquaculture producers are increasingly required to act in line with standards expected of the livestock industry. At a national level, safety and quality management systems should be put into place to ensure production, distribution and sale of aquaculture products are safe and of high quality. Such measures require competent professional associations that work in close association with the legal authority, in order to be successful.


48. Access to, and effective dissemination of, reliable information is needed for informed decision-making and responsible actions at all levels. High-quality information supports policy and planning, improves application of research results, increases farmers' capabilities to address sustainable development and public awareness of achievements.

49. Establishing effective national and regional information systems, with clear understanding of the role of the information for management of the sector is vital. Effective tools and methods to manage and analyse data (disciplinary, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral) and information systems, are required. FAO-FI has developed examples of the requisite information systems: (i) The FAO World Fisheries and Aquaculture Atlas (ATLAS)12 and (ii) the Fisheries Global Information System (FIGIS)13.
50. At present, limited statistical information exists concerning the scale and extent of rural or small-scale aquaculture development within most developing countries and LIFDCs. Likewise there is little data concerning the direct/indirect social and economic impacts in these sectors. Due to the limitations of conventional methods of assessment, the reliability of this information is also questionable. As a result, the role of small-scale aquaculture and aquatic resources management in rural livelihoods is generally underestimated. Quantitative and qualitative information on the impacts of more commercial-scale farming activities and assistance projects on food security and poverty alleviation is also missing. These shortfalls need urgent rectification (see also COFI:AQ/I/2002/5).
51. Considerable information on various aspects of aquaculture exists, however, much of this is in the grey literature. Although some information for sustainable development and management of aquaculture requires research investigation, priority should be given to the collation and assessment of existing information, and, where necessary, repackaging into more accessible formats.
52. In the short term, it is important to collect, at the national level, available information on economic and social aspects of aquaculture, resource use and efficiency, employment benefits, beneficiaries and other attributes of major aquaculture production. This is needed to enable rational decision-making on aquaculture integration into resource management plans, agriculture and rural development. This information should be packaged in a form of direct use to decision-makers (e.g. in the form of quantifiable indicators). The specific nature and amount of information to be collected, the frequency of updating, and cost-effective methods for doing this, also require special attention (see also COFI:AQ/I/2002/5).


53. In keeping with its terms of reference, the Sub-Committee is requested to consider experiences and lessons learnt over the past decades in implementing aquaculture development and management programmes, both at the normative and field levels. In particular, creating an enabling environment for aquaculture development in areas where potential exists is vital to sectoral sustainability. This includes creating and establishing policy and regulatory environments conducive to better management of aquaculture and improving stakeholder participation in planning, implementing and managing aquaculture globally.

54. The Sub-Committee may wish to consider recommending specific action by FAO-FI, FAO Member Countries, and regional and international organizations concerned with sustainable aquaculture development.

1 Aquaculture in this document also refers to culture-based fisheries.

2 The trend analysis provided in this document is based on the latest (1999) FAO aquaculture production statistics -

3 Countries included in the Low Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDC) grouping are those classified (i) by the World Bank as low-income in terms of Gross National Product (GNP) per caput, and (ii) by FAO as having a trade deficit for food in terms of calorie content. Countries that have formally objected to being included in the grouping are not included (for current listing see

4 Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand.

5 Subasinghe, R.P., P. Bueno, M.J. Phillips, C. Hough, S.E. McGladdery & J.R. Arthur. (Eds.) 2001. Aquaculture in the Third Millennium - Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium, Bangkok, Thailand. 20-25 February 2000. NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome, 471 p.

6 NACA/FAO. 2000. Aquaculture Development Beyond 2000: the Bangkok Declaration and Strategy. Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium, 20-25 February 2000, Bangkok, Thailand. NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome, 27 p.

7 FAO. 1995. Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Rome, FAO, 41 p.

8 FAO Fisheries Department. 1997. Aquaculture development. FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries No. 5, Rome, FAO, 40 p.

9 GESAMP: IMO/FAO/UNESCO-IOC/WMO/WHO/IAEA/UN/UNEP Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection.

10 GESAMP 2001. Planning and management for sustainable coastal aquaculture development. Rep. Stud. GESAMP, 68, 90 p.

11 FAO. 2001. Promotion of sustainable commercial aquaculture in sub-Saharan Africa. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No. 408, Vol. 1-3. FAO, Rome.