Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Fish farming plays crucial role in boosting rural development and reducing poverty and hunger - FAO convenes first ever global intergovernmental meeting in Beijing to discuss aquaculture

China, 18 Apr 2002 -- Beijing – The role of aquaculture in fighting hunger and poverty and promoting rural development will be the main focus of an international meeting convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) opening in Beijing today.

[…] With an overall growth rate of 11 percent a year since 1984, aquaculture, including culture-based fisheries, has been the world’s fastest growing food-producing sector for nearly 20 years. In 1999, 42.77 million metric tons of aquatic products (including plants) valued at US$ 53.5 billion were produced, and more than 300 species of aquatic organisms are today farmed globally. Approximately 90 percent of the total aquaculture production is produced in developing countries, and a large proportion of this is produced by small-scale producers particularly in Low Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDCs). The top ten aquaculture producing countries are all located in the Asian region, with China contributing 70.2 percent to global aquaculture production.

While export-oriented, industrial and commercial aquaculture practices bring much needed foreign exchange, revenue and employment to a country, more extensive and integrated forms of aquaculture do not only make a significant, grass-roots, contribution to improving livelihoods among the poorer sectors of society but also promote efficient use of resources and environmental conservation, according to a paper prepared by FAO for the first session of the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture. Representatives from governments, inter-governmental organizations, UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations will participate in the meeting, which takes place at the Beijing International Convention Centre, Beijing, China, from 18-22 April. […]

Aquaculture contributes almost a third of global fisheries production. FAO's latest studies on future demand for, and supply of, fish and fishery products predict a sizeable increase in demand. The majority of this increase will result from expected economic development, population growth and changes in eating habits. Fish supply from marine capture fisheries in most countries is expected to remain constant or even to decline, since catches have either reached or are close to the maximum sustainable yield. […]

Addressing the recent public debate related to the negative environmental and social impact of aquaculture, Ichiro Nomura, Assistant Director-General of FAO’s Fisheries Department said at the opening of the meeting: “Historically, most aquaculture practices around the world have been pursued with significant social, economic and nutritional benefits, and with minimal environmental costs. However 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 often arise from weak regulatory frameworks and the too rapid development associated with the great commercial potential of some high value species. It is our responsibility to take collective measures to improve our understanding of the real impacts and causes in order to make the sector more and more environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable.”

[…] The Sub-Committee on Aquaculture was established by the 24th meeting of FAO’s Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in 2001. The aim is to provide a forum for consultation and discussion on aquaculture and to advise COFI on technical and policy matters related to aquaculture and on the work to be performed by the FAO in the subject matter field of aquaculture.

RAP 02/08

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