Dr Wimol Jantrarotai, Director General, Royal Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives
Dr Ambekar Eknath, Director General, Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia and the Pacific
Distinguished country delegates, representatives from regional and international organizations, invited resources persons and FAO colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor for me to welcome you to participate in the regional consultation on sustainable intensification of aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific, which is jointly convened by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia-Pacific.
First of all, I wish to convey our gratitude to the Royal Department of Fisheries of the Government of Thailand for hosting this important regional gathering. I also wish to thank NACA for its close collaboration with FAO in organizing this extremely important event.
Our world is facing a number of major challenges in the new millennium, including how to ensure the food and nutritional security of the increasing population without a negative impact to environment and natural resources. The world population will continue to grow in the coming decades. It is projected that the world population would reach 9.2 billion by 2050. It is estimated that the food outputs in developing countries including crops, livestock and fisheries must increase by 77 percent by year 2050 from the level in 2005/07 in order to adequately feed the growing population at that time. Considering over 60% of the world chronic hunger population already live in this region at present, the task ahead of us to ensure the food and nutritional security in the region would be more challenging in the coming decades.
Fish and other aquatic animals are important protein rich food resources for the people worldwide and playing an essential role in people’s nutrition, which currently comprises about 17 percent of people’s animal protein intake. Historically, capture fisheries used to be the major supply of fish products for human consumption. Due to the over-exploitation, however, the capture fisheries sector recorded a very limited growth since the 1980s, which has created a significant gap between the supply and increasing demand for fish and fish products. On the other hand, cultured fish increased and hence the role of aquaculture became increasingly important. As a result, the rapid development of aquaculture sector in recent years contributed and played a key role in ensuring sustainable supply of fish and filling the gap between the supply and demand for fish. It also effectively contributed in raising annual fish consumption level to 19 kg/capita in 2010 from 12kg/capita in 1980.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Aquaculture sector has been the fastest growing food production sector. With the average annual production growth of 10% throughout the last 3 decades, global production of cultured fish and other aquatic animals increased to nearly 60 million tonnes in 2010 from 5 million tonnes 30 years ago.
In deed, aquaculture sector currently provides nearly 50% of the fish and aquatic products for direct human consumption. The rapid growth of aquaculture in the past decades has been resulted from both expansion of culture area and intensification of culture operation based on technological development and increasing input levels. The intensification of aquaculture has contributed to improving production efficiency significantly, which has resulted in improving global food and nutritional security and rural poverty alleviation, similar to the production intensification in crop and livestock sector. On the other hand, aquaculture intensification in some instances, has resulted in environmental pollution, outbreak of fish diseases, over use of antibiotics and other chemicals which led to the food safety problems and import ban of aquaculture products from some of exporting countries.
In deed, aquaculture intensification is a key to meet rapidly growing future demand in one hand, especially at a time when land and water resources became more scarce , but on the other hand, it created a serious doubt in its long term sustainability. In addition, aquaculture sector is facing new challenges such as climate changes, and impacts from social, economic and cultural change, particularly urbanization and globalization.
As I explained earlier, the population growth and diet habit change, especially in middle income countries, will create great demand pressure on fisheries and aquaculture products in the coming decades. Based on a rather conservative prediction, just to maintain the current per capita fish consumption, the world fish production needs to increase by 30 million tonnes from the present level of nearly 60 million tonnes in order to meet increasing fish demand towards year 2050.
Based on the present trend of capture fisheries, we predict optimistically that we might be able to maintain the currently catch if we can management the sector well. In other words, development of aquaculture would be the only way to meet the increasing demand for fish in the coming decades.
Asia and the Pacific region has contributed the major part of the aquaculture growth in the past three decades. It is now contributing about 90% of the world aquaculture production. Due to various reasons, aquaculture development has be slow in other regions with the average annual growth of 6% compared with the growth of 10% in Asia and the Pacific. The share of other regions, excluding Asia and the Pacific region, to global aquaculture production dropped to 10% in 2010 compared with 24% in 1980. Therefore, it is foreseeable that Asia and the Pacific region would play a major and outstanding role in meeting the future global fish demands.
How to maintain the momentum of aquaculture sector to meet the increasing fish demand in coming decades without compromising sustainability? This question poses a great challenge to the region. How can we maintain the growth of aquaculture for meeting the increasing fish demand while saving the natural resources and protect the natural environment? Sustainable intensification of aquaculture appears to be the most likely approach to achieve the goal.
The Zero Draft of Outcome Document of RIO+20 call upon all States to prioritize sustainable intensification of food production. The 32nd Session and 4th Regional Consultation Forum Meeting of APFIC identified the developing and communicating the advice for sustainable intensification of aquaculture as one of the regional top priority outcomes to be achieved.
I am very glad that FAO is collaborating with NACA in jointly convening this regional consultation as the regional initiative to support the sustainable development of aquaculture industry. FAO highly appreciate the support and participation of national governments, national, regional and international organizations and private sectors in the region to the initiative, which will have great impact on sustainable development of aquaculture in the region.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I trust that this regional consultation will provide a great opportunity for the stakeholders to share their successful knowledge, experiences and insights on promoting sustainable intensification of aquaculture and to discuss the priority issues and constraints hindering the sustainable aquaculture intensification in the region. I am look forward to the well developed regional strategies and action plan to promote the sustainable intensification of aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific, which will guide the national governments and regional and international organizations and private sector in consolidated efforts supporting the sustainable growth of aquaculture industry for meeting the increasing fish demand and contributing to economic development regionally and globally.
I wish the regional consultation a great success and all the participants pleasant stay in Bangkok.
Thank you for your attention!