Recent studies carried out by FAO1 on the sustainable contribution of fisheries to food security in the region indicated that, by the year 2010, substantially more fish will be required to sustain the demand from the expanding population. In the East Asian sub-region, the demand for fish will increase in both volume and per caput terms in some areas. Japan is a possible exception as fish consumption is already high and population growth close to zero, although preferences may change from lower-value to higher-value products because of increasing personal incomes. Japan will continue to rely on imports to satisfy its high demand for fish and fishery products.
Considering the expanding populations of the Republic of Korea and the DPRK, the requirement for food fish could be five mt by 2010 and by including non-food items and export of fish and fishery products, the total supply requirement may be approximately 7 mt or 2.5 mt above the current level.
China has set a target for fish production of 32 mt by the year 2000 and by 2010 this could rise to 40 mt. Significant growth potential exists for freshwater aquaculture, but traditional marine capture fisheries in coastal waters do not appear to offer any significant production increase potential. Coastal resources need to be efficiently managed. Future increases in landings from the sea are expected to come from distant-water fishing. It is expected that increase in personal incomes will generate enough purchasing power to satisfy any domestic demand-supply gap with a further growth in importation.
In South and Southeast Asia, the demand is expected to increase corresponding to the rising populations and incomes which will boost intra-regional trade, both for high-value and low-value fish and fishery products. By 2010, fish supplies will need to increase by at least five million tonnes merely to maintain current per caput consumption levels, and the effect of economic growth on demand will further increase requirements. The major growth in demand will be in Southeast Asia where consumption is already high. An increase of 3.6 mt over the 1993/95 average per caput consumption levels, or a 20 percent growth in production is envisaged. In South Asia, an increase of 1.3 mt above the current level of production would be required to satisfy the demand by the year 2010.
In Australia and New Zealand, a total demand for food fish of about 700,000 tonnes by 2010 is envisaged as the per capita consumption could well rise to over 27 kg/year. Supplies from capture fisheries are unlikely to increase substantially from the present level of around 739,000 tonnes. However, the production from aquaculture may rise to some 160,000 tonnes by 2010. Hence, if current export and import trends continue, there will be no negative implications for fish supplies or for food security.
For the Oceania, the expected increase in population of the SIDS will generate increase in demand for food fish of about 60,000 tonnes by 2010. However, in view of the limited coastal resources in most countries, per caput supplies are likely to decrease, resulting in increasing dependency on imports and declining diet quality, thus creating food insecurity. To provide sufficient fish supply, marketing and distribution systems have to be improved to facilitate the efficient transportation of fish among states and territories and within states and territories themselves. Fish will remain the most important source of animal proteins for the majority of the small-island developing countries in the Southwest Pacific.
The foregoing review indicates that the regions demand for fish by the year 2010 of some additional 24 mt is unlikely to be met from significant increases in marine fish production. Many coastal fish stocks will need to be rehabilitated urgently through effective fisheries management schemes with special attention to substantial monitoring or even reduction in fishing efforts. To satisfy this increasing demand, aquaculture, and to a lesser extent, inland fisheries, may provide better opportunities for augmenting regional fish production, especially in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. However, improved management systems are also needed for accelerated sustainable aquaculture development, rehabilitation of inland fishery resources, and alleviation of environmental degradation.
1FAO, 1998. Sustainable contribution of fisheries to Food Security in the Asia-Pacific region. (In press.)