Fisheries and aquaculture contribute significantly to food security in the Asia-Pacific region. Capture fishery production increased rapidly after the Second World War, from about 6.5 million tonnes in 1950 to 42 million tonnes in 1996. Aquaculture development in Asia yielded an additional 23 million tonnes of fish and shellfish. As the result, 58 percent of world fishery production came from the Asia and Pacific Region, with a major share of aquacultural products.
The continued population growth in Asia and the resulting high demand for fish and fishery products, domestic as well as for international markets, are far beyond the productivity of fishery resources in the region. It is estimated that at least 24 million tonnes above the current production are required to satisfy these needs. Although 10-15 million tonnes could be obtained from properly managed marine capture fisheries, especially in the Indian Ocean and Western Central Pacific, ways and means to increase inland capture fishery production and sustainable aquaculture are urgent issues to be tackled to fill the gap.
In order to ensure continued supplies of fish and fishery products in the region, all States are encouraged to implement the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in their jurisdiction. There is an urgent need to review and revise, where appropriate, legal and institutional frameworks to improve fisheries management at all levels. At the sub-regional and regional levels, international cooperation in research and development, as well as in the implementation of recent international instruments and arrangements, are called for. The regional fishery bodies, both FAO and non-FAO bodies, should play leading role in assisting its member countries in this transitional stage and in monitoring the progress in the implementation of the Code of Conduct in the region. Necessary actions should be undertaken, in close cooperation between the public and private sectors and between members governments and regional bodies, to eliminate excess fishing capacity, to improve fisheries management, to develop aquaculture as an integral part of national rural development, to minimize wastages and discards in post-harvest operations, etc. With strong political will to resolve the current problems and concerted action of the governments of the region, sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific could be achieved even in the first decade of the next millennium.