In the Asia-Pacific region, fisheries play an important role in the food security of the populations, especially those living in coastal and rural areas and on small islands. The role is even more important in many low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs). From 1994-1996, the average per capita consumption was high in East and Southeast Asia and in the Oceania (i.e., 24.2 kg/year and 20.8 kg/year respectively) compared to the world average of 15.2 kg/year. In South Asia, the per capita consumption was noticeably lower (i.e., 4.8 kg/year) whilst in China consumption is rising (i.e., 22.4 kg/year during the said period). These figures reflect the importance of fish in food security and the general preference for fish as food in this region1.
Fisheries also contribute to the employment and income of millions of people in the region. In 1994, the estimated number of full and part-time fisherfolk engaged in marine and inland fisheries were 8.7 million and 1.7 million respectively. These figures did not include those fisherfolk who received less than one-third of their income from fisheries or spent less than one third of their time in fishing activities, including recreational fisheries. At least 31 million people are engaged in the fisheries sector (including aquaculture) and allied industries in the region2. Assuming that the minimum wage of a worker were US$ 5 per day and that this person worked 20 days per month for eight months a year, the income generated by the fisheries sector would be at least US$ 24,000 million a year, thus a very significant figure in the economies of the countries in the region.
Fisheries play an important role in the economies and international trade of many Asia-Pacific countries. The average annual export of fish and fishery products of the Asia-Pacific region was valued at more than US$ 18 thousand million in 1996; thus more than 85 percent of the total world export value. A number of countries in the region (viz., Thailand, China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Indonesia) were amongst the top exporters of fish and fishery products with a combined export value of US$ 11 thousand million in 1996. However, there are also a number of countries in the region that rely on imported fish and fishery products to satisfy domestic demand as can be seen from the rising trend of import value from US$ 8,700 million in 1986 to US$ 23,579 million in 19963.
Since the end of the Second World War (1945), there has been a remarkable development in fisheries, especially marine capture fisheries, in many developing countries of the region, in particular China, India and a number of countries in Southeast Asia. The rapid expansion of marine fisheries is due to a number of factors: (1) the introduction of modern technologies and techniques for fishing such as the widely used monofilament nylon gill net in the small-scale fisheries and the trawl net in the commercial fisheries sub-sectors; (2) the increased motorization of fishing boats; (3) technical assistance rendered by donors and multilateral agencies such as FAO; (4) inflow of capital investment for required infrastructures; (5) the discovery of new fishing grounds in offshore waters; and (6) the recognition of the fisheries contributions by the governments and their common policy of strengthening the fisheries sector4.
The increasing demand in developed countries for high quality and higher valued species and the steadily expanding populations in the region have given impetus to the rapid expansion of capture fisheries since the sixties and have accelerated aquaculture development during the past two decades. Marine fishery products, once eaten mainly by the populations inhabiting coastal areas, have become national consumer goods, just as high quality and high valued fish and fishery products have become international market commodities5.
The capture fishery production of the Asia-Pacific region in 1996 was estimated at 41.6 million tons, thus accounting for 44 percent of the total world fishery production. This comprised 37.2 million tons from marine waters (89 percent) and only 4.4 million tons from inland waters (11 percent). The average annual rate of production increase during 1986-1996 was 1.7 percent as compared to the 1.1 percent of the global rate of production increase in the same period. It should be noted, however, that the annual rate of production increase for the marine capture fishery sub-sector was only 1.3 percent as compared to 5.5 percent for the inland capture fishery sub-sector6.
Of the regional production of 41.6 million tons, East Asia contributed 24 million tons; South Asia and Southeast Asia 16.8 million tons and the remaining 0.6 million tons from Oceania. The major producers in East Asia were China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. Although the largest fleet in the subregion was that of Japan, its marine fish production declined from a peak of 11.8 million tons in 1984 to 5.9 million tons in 1996; this was due partly to the gradual exclusion of Japanese distant-water fishing fleets from the EEZs of other coastal States and to the decline in offshore and coastal fisheries in Japanese waters. As concerns China, with the change in the policy of the Government to support a market economy in the eighties, China underwent rapid development in marine capture fisheries and thus an increase of marine production to 12.4 million tons in 1996. China also had the highest production from inland fisheries in this subregion, with a total of 1.8 million tons in 1996. The fish production of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) suffered a decline from the peak of 4.3 million tons in 1989 to only 688,000 tons in 1997. A fuel shortage and the lack of spare parts in recent years have limited the operations of the countrys fishing fleet. Moreover, many fishing boats were destroyed by weather calamities during the last few years7.
In South and Southeast Asia, the major producers are India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. Their marine fishery production was 14.2 million tons; thus about 85 percent of the 1996 marine and inland capture fishery production of these subregions. The major producers of inland fishery products were India (26 percent), Bangladesh (23 percent) and Indonesia (14 percent); their combined production was 2.5 million tons in 1996. All fish catches by landlocked countries of these two subregions and most of the fish production in Cambodia come from inland waters8.
Oceania covers a vast marine water area but it contributed only 1.9 percent to the total fishery production of the Asia-Pacific region in 1996, i.e. 779,000 tons. Nevertheless, fisheries play a very important role in the food security and economies of the South Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and territories. Fish consumption is relatively high. Moreover, income from fees paid by distant-water fishing nations to gain access to the tuna fishing grounds in the EEZs of these island countries plays a significant role in their economies9.
The total marine fishery production of this subregion for domestic consumption was estimated at 760,000 tons in 1996. The exploitation of tuna is carried out mainly by distant-water fishing fleets, whilst the fleets of the Pacific island countries take slightly less than 10 percent of the weight of the tuna caught in the Pacific Community area, which is estimated to be about one million tons annually10.
In this subregion, inland fisheries are important only in Papua New Guinea and Fiji. The total production of inland capture fisheries in the South Pacific in 1996 amounted to only 20,000 tons.
Aquaculture (the culture of fish, shellfish and seaweed) has been practiced for a long time in many countries of South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia. In the past few decades it has been renovated and accelerated with the input of improved methodologies and techniques because of the increasing demand, especially for shrimp. The aquaculture production of the region in 1997 increased threefold, i.e. from 10.5 million tons in 1986 to 32.8 million tons in 1997, accounting for 91 percent of the total world aquaculture production. In East Asia, China is the main aquaculture producer, with fish (mainly freshwater finned fish), shellfish, seaweed and other aquatic species in 1997 totaling 24 million tons or 67 percent of global aquaculture production. Aquaculture operations in China use mainly a semi-intensive, polyculture pond-based system, producing freshwater finned fish. Japan and the Republic of Korea produced 1.3 million tons and 1 million tons respectively in 1997. Aquaculture in Japan, on the other hand, uses intensive and more technologically advanced methodologies and techniques to produce predominantly marine carnivorous species such as yellowtail and red seabream.
In South Asia and Southeast Asia, the major producers have been India, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand. Aquaculture production of the two subregions rose from two million tons in 1986 to 5.5 million tons in 1997. This was approximately 15 percent of the global aquaculture production. The increase in the value of aquaculture production of these two subregions was even more notable, being from US$ 2,277 million in 1986 to about US$ 9,000 million in 1997. Shrimps represented more than 50 percent of the total assessed value in 199611.
In the Oceania subregion, the aquaculture activities in Australia and New Zealand, especially the culture of mussels and chinook salmon in New Zealand and Atlantic salmon in Australia, have largely contributed to the increase of aquaculture production of the subregion, i.e. from 26,000 tons in 1986 to about 100,000 tons in 1997. Aquaculture development is taking place in a number of SIDS with the hope that it will help reinforce food security in these countries12.
Projected demand and supply
The steadily increasing populations and rising incomes in several countries of the region will effect the demand for fish. The rising trend of the demand for fish is evident from the export and import statistics, as mentioned earlier. In recent years, imported fish and fishery products for local consumption, such as frozen cod (Gadus spp.), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), mackerel (Scomber spp), and pollack, which are fish of temperate and sub-temperate waters, can be seen in markets in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. These are destined for households which are able to afford them. In the Philippines, there is an increasing trend of imported low-valued fish for local consumption. The increasing demand will stimulate inter-regional and intra-regional fish trade in the future.
The studies conducted by FAO in 1998 on the contribution of fisheries to food security in the region indicated that the projected demand for fish by the year 2010 might be 24 million tons more than the average regional production of 58 million tons during the period 1993-1995. The population increase and rising income in China may boost the requirements for fish by the year 2010 to some 40 million tons. In Japan and the Republic of Korea, preferences may change from lower-value to higher value products because of rising incomes. Japan will continue to rely on imports to satisfy its high demand, but there will probably be no significant growth in the import volume because of the negative population growth. In the Republic of Korea and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), the requirements might be of the order of 7 million tons (i.e. 2.5 millions above the average production during 1993-95).
The demand in Southeast Asia is expected to rise, corresponding to the increasing populations and incomes. By 2010, the demand could be 12.7million tons just to maintain the current per capita consumption levels, or 3.6 million tons above the current levels. Taking higher incomes into account, the demand might be at least five million tons above the current level. In South Asia, an increase of 1.3 million tons above the production level in 1993-95 is envisaged to satisfy the demand by the year 2010.
In Oceania, the demand for food fish of about 700,000 tons by 2010 is envisaged for Australia and New Zealand, and thus there will be no negative implications for fish supplies or for food security. However, the SIDS will require an additional amount of 60,000 tons of food fish by 2010. The FAO tudy predicted that, as the coastal resources for SIDS are limited, per capita supplies would decrease, resulting in declining diet quality and increasing dependency on import, thus creating food insecurity. The study recommended that to partially solve the problems, improvements must be made in the marketing and distribution systems in the SIDS, both within the individual countries and amongst them.
The projected demand of an additional 24 million metric tons is unlikely to be met by an increase in marine fishery production in the Asia-Pacific region. A recent study conducted by FAO13 predicted that the marine fishery resources in the Western Central Pacific Ocean might be fully fished by 2003. Because of the uncertainty of the available data, the potential status of the resources in the Indian Ocean cannot be assessed, but the study indicated that there was room for further fisheries development in both the Western and Eastern Indian Ocean.
Recent technical and conference reports have indicated that a number of fish stocks in the region have been subjected to intense exploitation during the past three decades. The increased exploitation in the Yellow and East China Seas by the fleets of China, Japan, Republic of Korea and the DPRK, without an effective management system, has depleted major fishery resources in these areas. Valuable species such as yellow croaker (Pseudosciaena polyactis) have been replaced by less-valued species, including filefish (Havodon septentrionalis)14. The resources in the Sea of Japan or the East Sea (as referred to by Korea) have also been fished heavily by fleets from Japan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Korea and the DPRK15.
In the South China Sea, especially in the Gulf of Thailand, many coastal resources have been fully exploited or overexploited. It has been observed that the current pattern of coastal resource use of the countries bordering the South China Sea, if not corrected, will result in unsustainable fisheries16.
In the Oceania subregion, it was reported that there are localized excess capacity problems especially around atolls and reefs. Very little interaction exists between export fisheries and domestic fish production and the species exported are not part of the local diets17.
The Advisory Committee of the Bay of Bengal at its Twenty-fourth Meeting in Phuket, Thailand, in October 1999, pointed out that there were enough indicators to suggest that several fish stocks (in the Bay of Bengal) were close to over-exploitation and under stress. The need to employ a precautionary approach in the rational management of the fisheries and conservation of the fish stocks was emphasized. Concerted action at both the national and regional levels to develop practical and reliable fisheries management information systems to support fisheries management was recommended18.
Hence, for the marine fisheries sub-sector, there is an urgent need to rehabilitate coastal fish stocks through effective fisheries management schemes, with special attention to reduction in the fishing capacity, in order to at least maintain the current level of production.
To satisfy the increasing demand, aquaculture and to a lesser extent, inland capture fisheries, may provide better opportunities for production increase, especially in Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
It should be noted that a number of major inland fishery resources are fully exploited and there are no large inland fisheries with potential for further expansion19. Furthermore, in many countries in the region, inland resources are affected by man-induced activities, including mining, pollution, encroachment of water bodies, soil erosion, deforestation, coastal land reclamation and conflicts in land and water use, etc. Future attention to inland fisheries should therefore be directed toward effective fisheries and environmental management, with a view to at least maintaining the present level of production and preventing further environmental degradation and damage to fish habitats. Management should include the sustainable development of culture-based fisheries which has been successfully demonstrated in China. With effective resource and environmental management, including the development of culture-based fisheries, it is felt that the inland capture fisheries sub-sector could augment current production by about 10-20 percent by the year 2010.
In contrast to the marine and inland capture fisheries sub-sectors, opportunities for increasing aquaculture production in South and Southeast Asia, East Asia and to a lesser extent, Oceania are promising. However, there is need to also develop and implement effective management systems to attain sustainable aquaculture through integrated rural and coastal area management programmes. Effective management of aquaculture activities, both extensive and intensive, supported by appropriate legislation and enforcement should be carried out to effect ecologically friendly aquaculture practices as recommended by the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries20. In Southeast Asia, the average annual growth rate of aquaculture production could achieve 9.6 percent, provided that a balanced approach and good aquaculture management are implemented, as technical knowledge, interest on the part of the public and private sectors and financing institutions are already in existence21.
Global instruments/initiatives related to the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture
The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which came into force in 1994, has drastically changed the concept of ocean governance and set forth new legal frameworks for marine fisheries and environmental protection. In response to the rapid change in the global fisheries situation, especially during the past decade, and in order to facilitate the effective implementation of UNCLOS, a number of international instruments and initiatives have been adopted by the international community. Notable among them are:
The Compliance Agreement and the Code of Conduct complement and re-enforce the UN Fish Stocks Agreement. FAO has encouraged its Member States and the international community to implement these instruments to enable them to move closer to the goal of rational fisheries management and the sustainable use of the fishery resources. These instruments will have far reaching implications on the future roles and responsibilities of the States concerned and regional fishery bodies and arrangements as the latter are called upon to play more important and wider roles in rational fisheries management and sustainable resource utilization. For example, under UNCLOS, regional bodies and arrangements are requested to promote agreements between States for the conservation and development of shared stocks and the conservation of straddling fish stocks as well as the conservation and optimum use of highly migratory stocks. The UN Fish Stocks Agreement calls on regional bodies to inter alia promote collaboration amongst their respective members to agree on information and data exchange; conduct collaborative research on fish stocks; establish suitable mechanisms for effective MCS and enforcement; and agree on conservation and management measures, etc. The Compliance Agreement expects regional bodies to facilitate information exchange in relation to the implementation of the Agreement. The Code of Conduct requests regional bodies to collaborate and promote the implementation of the Code by their respective members, in particular, the application of a precautionary approach to effect rational exploitation of fishery resources; and the implementation of various measures to effect the sustainable utilization of the resources22. The Rome Declaration on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries adopted by the FAO Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries, Rome, 10-11 March 1999 requested FAO to continue its efforts to strengthen the functions and responsibilities of FAO regional fishery bodies and their cooperation with other regional fishery management bodies in order to effectively implement the Code of Conduct.
1 FAO (1999). Apparent consumption of fish and fishery products. Fishery Statistics Yearbook 1997, Vol. 85, Table I.
2 FAO (1999). Numbers of fishers, 1970-1995. FAO Fisheries Circular No. 929 (Rev.2), 106 pp.
3 FAO (1998). Fishery Statistics Yearbook 1996, Vol. 83, Table A-5.
4 Menasveta, D. (1994). Fisheries management in the exclusive economic zones of Southeast Asia before and after Rio and the prospects for regional cooperation. Foreign Relation Journal, vol. IX, number 2, p. 107.
5 Ibid, page 107.
6 FAO (1999). Into the next millennium: fishery perspective. FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, RAP Working Paper Series 1/3, RAP Publication No. 1999/26, 43 pp.
7 Ibid., p 3.
8 Ibid., p. 4
9 Ibid., p. 4
10 Ibid., p. 4
11 Ibid., pp. 7 and 8
12 Ibid., Table 6.
13 Grainger, R.J.R., and S.M. Garcia, 1996. Chronicles of marine fishery landings (1950-1994): Trend analysis and fisheries potential. FAO, Rome. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No. 359, 51 pp.
14 Cyr, N., H.T. Huh, Q. Tang and S. Kim (1997). Yellow Sea large marine ecosystem programme. In: Proceedings of the APFIC Symposium on Environmental Aspects of Responsible Fisheries, 15-18 October 1996, Seoul, Republic of Korea. RAP Publication 1997/32, pp. 322-326.
15 Yamamoto, T. (1994). Marine fisheries of Korea and its management-need for international cooperation of fisheries management in East China Sea and Yellow Sea. In: Proceeding of the IIFET-VII International Conference, pp. 223-233.
16 See page 4 of Menasveta, D., 1997. Fisheries management frameworks of the countries bordering the South China Sea. Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, RAP Publication 1997/33, 151 pp.
17 Gillett, Preston and Associates, Inc. 1997. The sustainable contribution of fisheries to food security in the Oceania subregion of the Asia-Pacific region. FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand (In press).
18 BOBP, 1999. Report of the Twenty-fourth Meeting of the Advisory Committee of the Bay of Bengal Programme (BOBP), Phuket, Thailand, 13-16 October 1999 (In press).
19 FAO, 1995. Review of the state of world fishery resources: inland capture fisheries. FAO, Rome, FAO Fisheries Circular No. 885, 63 pp.
20 FAO, 1997. Sustainable contribution of fisheries to food security in Southeast Asia. In: Review on food security issues and challenges in the Asia and Pacific region (UNDP TSS-1 Project, RAS/95/01T), FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (In press).
22 FAO, 1999. Report of the Meeting of FAO and Non-FAO Regional Fishery Bodies or Arrangements, Rome, Italy, 11-12 February 1999, FAO of the United Nations, Rome, FAO Fisheries Report No. 597, Annex D, pp 15 and 16.