Projects and other activities

Mario Pedini, Z. H. Shehadeh,
M. Martínez-Espinosa,
A. Tacon and D. Bartley

Fishery Resources Division



A second mission under the Fisheries Management and Law Advisory Programme (FIMLAP), funded by NORAD (Norway), took place in January 1997 to assist the country in planning its aquaculture programme. The main objective of the mission was to analyze aquaculture production in 1996 from a technical and economic standpoint. The past year was crucial for the development of aquaculture in Cuba since a new plan had been launched with production models which were rather new. The mission evaluated the partial results which had been gathered before its arrival and visited stations in the provinces of Cienfuegos, Sancti Spiritu and la Habana.

The 1996 production from aquaculture was 33 300 mt, of which 28 000 mt were obtained from stocked reservoirs, 2 500 mt from semi-intensive systems in micro-reservoirs and 2 800 mt from ponds managed using semi-intensive (carp polyculture techniques) or intensive farming practices (tilapias). The production from extensive systems (reservoirs) was higher than foreseen (21 000 mt) due to the implementation of improved Chinese harvesting techniques and provision of incentives in convertible currency to workers exceeding established quotas of production. Intensive practices gave results which were lower than expected, due to problems including the availability of ponds and fingerlings, and the shortage and low quality of the feeds produced.

The mission made a preliminary analysis of the results gathered from the various farms which had been harvested, and while holding a final evaluation pending the examination of more complete sets of data which should be available to the third mission, alerted the Cuban authorities that the financial viability of some of the production models employed seemed to be rather doubtful. A third mission is foreseen around April-May 1997, to conclude this project, which should come up with a series of recommendation on the most suitable approaches to boosting aquaculture production in Cuba.

" Aquaculture Development"

This new TCP project, with a total budget of US $ 311 000, was signed in February 1997. It will assist the country in its efforts to enhance aquaculture production through: the strengthening of a Planning Information Unit, that will provide a decision support and monitoring system for aquaculture development in the coastal and inland areas using GIS and remote sensing as planning tools; training of personnel in the Planning Information Unit; undertaking zonal planning of coastal areas and monitoring during and after investment periods, both for the regulation of coastal development and for disease diagnosis and prevention; training staff at the aquaculture center in Uda Wallabe and Dambulla in the practical aspects of pond management, fish seed production, fish diseases control, fish transportation and distribution and reservoir fisheries management; and a planning workshop to present the results of the work carried out to strengthen local capacity for aquaculture development planning.

The project will be implemented over a period of 18 months and FAO will provide the services of international consultants on freshwater aquaculture, coastal aquaculture and Geographic Information Systems, as well as national consultants for GIS/ Remote Sensing applications. The project provides funds for training of Sri Lankan staff and the necessary equipment for implementation of planned activities. It will be supervised by the FAO Regional Office in Bangkok and by FAO Headquarters, Rome. The Government institution responsible for the implementation of the project is the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development (MFARD), which will appoint a National Project Coordinator. He will be assisted by the staff of the Inland Aquaculture Research Division of the National Aquatic Resources Agency (NARA) and the MFARD Aquaculture Division. Dr. J. Kapetsky, responsible at FAO Headquarters for GIS applications in aquaculture and inland fisheries development, will visit the country in April 1997 to initiate the work on the GIS component.


TCP/SRL/6614 "Disease Prevention and Health Management in Coastal Shrimp Culture"

As part of the technical backstopping provided by FAO Headquarters to the above mentioned project, Dr. Rohana Subasinghe visited Sri Lanka from 1 to 13 March 1997. One of the purposes of the visit was to check on the status of appointment of the national team. A National Project Director was already appointed and in place and a Technical Officer appointed but still to be transferred to Negombo. The Aquaculture Extension Center in Negombo had also been established by the government but the Progress Review Committee was still to be appointed. An agreement was reached on the requirements for services of international and national consultants: an international consultant on shrimp health management for 1.5 m/m, an international consultant on HACCP for 0.5 m/m, a consultant on animal quarantine/health certification for 0.75 m/m and a consultant on environmental aspects, to be provided from FAO Headquarters staff, for 1 m/m, as well as a legal consultant from the FAO Legal Office for 0.7 m/m. A national consultant on legislation would also be appointed for 1 m/m.

The initial surveys carried out by NARA show that the problems with the SEMBV disease are rather diverse and occur in different sites on the northwestern coast of the island. This has led to the identification of 15 locations where training at grass root level would be provided to farmers. In the course of the visit it was also agreed that the project would organize and hold three national workshops: i) on health management, environment and sustainability of shrimp farming in Sri Lanka, ii) on HACCP, and iii) public seminar on shrimp culture in Sri Lanka. Regarding the international training programme envisaged in the project document, it was agreed to train two national officers for 5 weeks on health management and new diagnostic tools for SEMBV at the Acuatic Animal Health Research Institute (AAHRI), Thailand, plus a third officer on the new diagnostic tools also at AAHRI, Thailand. A fourth officer will be trained for three months on shrimp health aspects at Mahidol University, Thailand. The research programme agreed to will focus on screening of post-larvae (PLs) and broodstock, including the monitoring of environmental quality to ascertain the fate of the stocked PLs in relation to their pond environment. A preliminary list of required equipment for the project has also been prepared and will be finalized by the shrimp health consultant.

Dr. Subasinghe noted the high interest and expectations from this project by the various national institutions due to the importance of the Sri Lankan shrimp industry.


As the project TCP/MEX/4555 "Camaronicultura para el Sector Social en Nayarit y Sinaloa" , which is aimed at the development of sustainable aquaculture in two coastal sites of Nayarit and Sinaloa, is reaching it conclusion, the Government of Mexico approached the FAO for a possible follow-up activity through a Unilateral Trust Fund project. The new project is to be jointly funded by the Secretaria de Medio Ambiente, Recursos Naturales y Pesca (SEMARNAP) and the Fondo Nacional de Apoyo a las Empresas de Solidaridad (FONAES). Mr. Pedini, FAO Headquarters staff, visited Mexico from 26 to 29 January to discuss with the interested parties the formulation of a one year project to consolidate the activities undertaken under the TCP project. On the basis of the discussions with the various Mexican groups, the new project should have four areas of intervention: shrimp culture; environment; production diversification and postlarvae production.

In the case of the first area (shrimp culture), the work of the project will continue previous activities to improve the capacity of the local producers through training and promoting access to improved production technologies, and to techniques for prevention and control of diseases.

Regarding environmental aspects, a farm monitoring programme will be implemented following the characterization of initial environmental condition under the TCP project. The project will also continue the work on mitigation measures to reduce the environmental impact of the farms and to ensure adherence of farms to laws governing environmental protection. It will also create a higher awareness amongst producers about sustainable forms of production.

The area dealing with diversification of production will have as objectives the reduction of human pressure (shrimp farms) on the environment by creating alternatives for gainful employment through new forms of aquaculture which will be demonstrated through some small pilot projects.

Finally the area of PL production will address one of the main problems of the industry: the scarcity of wild seed during certain periods of the year. The project will carry out feasibility studies for the establishment of a hatchery.

According to initial discussions, the inputs to be provided by the FAO through the project include international expertise (a shrimp culture consultant, an expert in diversification, a consultant on shrimp hatcheries, and a junior expert on permanent basis for shrimp culture and to ensure liaison with FAO) as well as national expertise (an expert on shrimp hatcheries


and a consultant for environment). The project will be supervised from FAO Headquarters. It is expected that negotiation for the new project will be concluded before the closure of the TCP project in June 1997.


The government of Venezuela requested the assistance of the Fisheries Department in establishing a TCP project on the genetic improvement of red tilapia in Venezuela (see also FAN, December 1996, No.14; p. 30). Red tilapia are currently farmed in many areas of the country, and are found in some river systems entering the country from Colombia. However, problems with growth rate, body conformation and coloration have been observed. Thus, the TCP project will attempt to establish a genetically improved stock of fish for culture. There are also environmental concerns associated with the use of an introduced fish, such as tilapia, that the project will attempt to address.

The preliminary mission of this project was carried out by Drs. Devin Bartley (24.1.97 to 5.2.97) and Manuel Martinez-Espinosa (25.1.97 to 30.1.97) from FAO Headquarters, Rome. The general objective was to assist the local authorities in the preparation and planning for the arrival of international consultants on quantitative genetics, biological diversity, and economics. The main activity was assisting these authorities in the selection of an institution for the experimental component of the project, as well as identifying potential national experts to work on the genetic improvement of red tilapia. With this purpose, the mission visited several public and private Institutions located in different parts of the country: Ministry of Agriculture aquaculture experimental stations in Guanapito (Guárico State) and Papelón (Portuguesa State), University of Zulia Faculty of Science in Maracaibo (Zulia State), private fish culture farms in Guarenas (Miranda State), San Cristobal (Táchira State), Guanare (Portuguesa State) and Valencia (Carabobo State). The selection of the research site was based on existing facilities (hatchery, growout, lab.) and equipment (computers, water quality, electrophoresis), trained staff, vicinity to commercial tilapia farms, training and lodging facilities. Additional considerations were made based on the background of the institutions and their support to the project.


A workshop of the SIPAM Information System for Promotion of Aquaculture in the Mediterranean was organized from 5 to 7 March 1997 in the premises of the CIHEAM institute in Bari, Italy, to introduce the new Windows based software to participating countries. The new software, which had been developed by the Institute of Marine Biology of Crete, Greece on behalf of SIPAM, was demonstrated to the National SIPAM Coordinators which had gathered for this meeting. The meeting was also an occasion for the Regional Coordinator to present the status of the network and to propose a programme of work for the year and for 1998, as had been requested at the First Session of the GFCM Aquaculture Committee.

The main points in the presentation of the Regional Coordinator on the status of the system referred to: the distribution of the DOS software in 1996; the coverage of the various data bases; the discussions with SELAM experts regarding the preparation of a marketing data base; the results of the first meeting of the GFCM Aquaculture Committee, especially the work to be still carried out with the FAO Legal Office to formalize the participation of the countries in SIPAM and for software licenses; the contacts initiated for the expansion of the system, including Bulgaria, Syria and Algeria; and personnel recruitment. Regarding this last point, the Regional Coordinator announced the recruitment of a part time SIPAM specialized librarian, but difficulties were reported in replacing the SIPAM programmer. Request to accelerate the recruitment of the programmer were made by several participants.

Data stored in the system, prior to the Bari meeting, amounted to 2 300 records in 11 data bases. It was pointed out that not all the countries were showing the same degree of commitment in filling their national data bases.

A demostration was provided of the SIPAM software under Windows environment, the final version of which was developed on MS Access. The programme, which was distributed to the countries at the meeting, contains a complete help on line, which replaces the user manual. An installation manual was also provided. The new software is a translation of the DOS version. Apart from the original functionalities, it can export reports, queries and results to Ms Word or Excel to improve the presentation of the data. The system has four levels of security protected with passwords. The first one is the design level, in which the authorized staff can redesign or add forms, or delete existing ones. The second level is the System Manager level which is responsible for everything except redesign of forms. The third is the user level, which allows modification of the data the user provides to the system and preserves the security of the data provided. The last level is the


guest level, in which the guest can navigate and read the data but cannot enter data (read only). The future development of this first Windows version could be its transformation into Windows 95, upgrading to a 32 bit architecture.

The demonstration was followed by a session in which the national SIPAM coordinators practised with the new software to get acquainted with its operation, taking advantage of the presence of the IMBC staff and Mr. Coppola (FAO Headquarters) for technical backstopping.

The SIPAM meeting concluded with a discussion on the plan of work for the years 1997-98 which was presented by the Regional Coordinator. The discussion dealt with the organization of the visit of the Regional Coordinator to the participating countries, the organization of meetings with TECAM and SELAM to design specialized data bases, the need to ensure that data from the countries are provided on a more frequent basis to the Regional Center, the liaison with other groups like the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers, the need for the countries to find the national resources required to fulfill their commitments to the system, and the utility of attaching the SIPAM Regional Center to ASFA (which could now be implemented with the arrival of the specialized librarian).


In the context of the TCP/CYP/5611 project (see FAN, December 1996, No. 14, p. 27), Dr. Albert Tacon of FAO Headquarters, visited Cyprus from 27/1/93 to 3/2/97, as feed specialist consultant to the project, to assess the country's needs in aquaculture nutrition, including the identification of training, extension, and infrastructure development needs, and the preparation of a work plan for the proposed fish nutrition expert of the project.

According to government records on aquafeed usage in Cyprus, it is estimated that the commercial aquaculture sector consumed about 2 100 mt of aquafeed in 1996 valued at just over C£ 1 million, or 22% of the total gross value of aquaculture production of C£ 4.5 million. Approximately 93% of the aquafeeds consumed in Cyprus in 1996 were imported, and included 1 777 mt of marine pelleted aquafeeds (over 50% in the form of expanded or extruded high-energy pelleted feeds) with total value C£ 811,624 (unit value C£ 0.457/kg), ca. 150-200 mt of pelleted trout aquafeeds (unit value ca. C£ 0.40/kg), ca. 15-25 mt of pelleted marine shrimp aquafeeds, 5 681 kg of Artemia cysts (valued at C£ 156,133; unit value C£ 27.48/kg), and 2 899 kg of live

food enrichment media/larval feeds, valued at C£ 28 710 (unit value C£ 9.90/kg).

At present aquafeeds are imported in bulk either direct from overseas suppliers or from local agents in Cyprus. Although imported aquafeeds and feed ingredients are not currently subjected to any import duties, they are subject to strict veterinary controls.

Although no commercial figures were available concerning the reported biological or economic feed conversion ratio (FCR) of the aquafeeds used by individual fish farmers, it is possible to make a crude industry/country estimate based on the total reported aquafeed used by farmers and total fish produced or sold in 1996; the industry's average economic FCR being about 2.6 for marine finfish (i.e. a total of 1 911.84 mt of marine aquafeeds used in 1996 to produce about 720 mt of marine finfish and 11 mt of marine shrimp). Although complete data for trout were not available at the time of this mission, the economic FCR for 1995 was 1.7 (i.e. a total of 165 mt of trout feed used in 1995 to produce 98 mt of rainbow trout). The reported economic FCR of the three marine cage fish farmers interviewed during this mission ranged from 1.7 to 2.3. It is interesting to note here that according to two leading aquafeed manufacturers in Europe, the average economic FCR for seabass/seabream within the Mediterranean region in 1996 ranged from 2.2 to 2.4 (average for 14 countries); total aquafeed and seabass/seabream production within the Mediterranean region in 1996 ranging between 90 000-110 000 mt and 40 000-50 000 mt, respectively.

At present fish farmers receive only limited technical assistance from the technical assistance from the Department of Fisheries regarding aquafeed quality or on-farm feed management (however, this was not the case in the early 90's when the industry was still very new and inexperienced); individual farmers currently being almost totally reliant on the feeding tables/manuals supplied by the aquafeed manufactures and the erratic visits of the aquafeed sales representatives. Despite this, on the basis of the farmers interviewed, the feed management methods employed by farmers appeared to be generally satisfactory; the majority of the farmers interviewed not blindly relying on the usually arbitrary fixed feeding tables supplied by the aquafeed companies, but rather feeding their fish by hand to appetite and developing their own farm and site specific feeding tables based on their own practical experience.

With the exception of the marine shrimp farm A.P.Z. Aquarium Ltd., both of the marine finfish hatcheries visited employed conventional (i.e. standard) hatchery feeding methods for their fish larvae, based on the use of a combination of live food organisms (i.e. cultured algae, rotifers, Artemia) and imported larval hatchery


feeds and enrichment media with good success. However, it was also interesting to note that A.P.Z. staff have successfully developed their own hatchery feed as a partial replacement for Artemia and imported larval feeds; the hatchery feed consisting of a mixture of hens eggs, milk, squid, and a vitamin/mineral premix.

At present only one local feed manufacturer produces aquafeeds in Cyprus, namely Mr. Georgios Tsappis of Issorropimene Zootrophe Ltd. Established in 1975 the feed company has the only expander/extruder in the country, with a production capacity of 1.8 mt/h for fish feed, two shifts/day. The company initiated its aquafeed production in mid-1995 under license through a collaborative venture with an Israeli-Dutch consortium. This collaborative venture was however dissolved toward the end of 1996. At present there are no facilities at the factory for crumbing and the production of starter/fry feeds (aquafeed sold as 3-8 mm pellets). The company is still very keen to pursue and increase its production of aquafeed from a total of 142.5 mt of extruded (i.e. expanded) aquafeed in 1996, including 134.8 mt of marine seabream/seabass aquafeed (sold to five different farms) and 7.8 mt of trout aquafeed (sold to two farms). In addition to the sales in the domestic market, the company has also been producing limited quantities of floating tilapia feed for export to Israel.

At present there is no national association of feed millers in Cyprus, and compound animal feeds are manufactured generally following the EU codes of feed manufacturing practice (legislation prepared by the Cyprus Council of Feedstuffs and Feed Additives). However, apparently there is no mention of fish in this legislation. The main constraints currently faced by the compound feed manufacturing industry in Cyprus are related to high energy (electricity) and labour costs, the reluctance of the banking sector to give loans for the modernization and expansion of the sector and, more seriously, the need for the sector to divorce itself from government subsidies (in the form of cheap feed ingredient sources), in line with GATT policy, and the harmonization of the country toward the EU Aquis Communautaire.



The Fish Farming Centre (FFC), Jeddah, (UTFN/SAU/010/SAU) has achieved significant progress in the controlled reproduction and grow out of local species of groupers, rabbitfish and shrimp. The FFC carried out the first reported growout and marketing trials of hatchery produced Epinephelus polyphekadion (camouflage grouper). This species exhibited an extended spawning season in 1996, from March to November, with a break in May and June, but egg quality was best during the early part of the season (March and April). Broodstock raised from hatchery

reared fingerlings in 1992 also spawned for the first time in 1996, thus closing the life cycle in captivity. However, as noted in other marine finfish, egg quality at first spawning was poor and produced eggs were not incubated.

Growout trials were initiated in October 1995, with hatchery reared fingerlings, using onshore tanks, ponds and offshore sea cage facilities. Attempts were also made to study growth and production of this species under different stocking densities, using onshore tanks. After 12 months of growout, individual fish size of 800 g, with an average of 600 g, was attained. Marketing trials were initiated in October 1996. These tests are the subject of two articles to be published in Aquaculture Research and Asian Fisheries Science.

Additional advances include the extended captive spawning of E. fuscoguttatus (brown marbled grouper), mass hatchery production of fingerlings and initiation of nursery and growout trials. Results to date show that this species grows much faster than E. polyphekadion. A hybrid of female E. fuscogottatus and male E. polyphekadion has also been mass produced in the hatchery and preliminary nursing tests show the hybrid to have a faster growth rate than the camouflage grouper.

Pond production trials with rabbitfish (Siganus rivulatus) using locally produced feed (32% crude protein) yielded 440 kg from a 220 sq. metre pond (almost 20 mt/ha by linear extrapolation), with average individual fish weight of 94g, during an eight month growing period. A record production rate of 320 kg of shrimp (P. indicus), of 23 g average individual weight, was also produced from a 600 sq. metre pond (equivalent to 5 mt/ha/crop) using locally formulated feed.

Special Programme on Food Security

In the framework of the FAO Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), a priority programme for the FAO as a whole, Zambia is the first country where aquaculture components have been integrated with other farming activities. The SPFS, which consist of two main phases, a Pilot Phase and an Expansion Phase, is already in various stages of implementation in about 20 countries. The Pilot Phase of the programme consists of four major areas : (a) water control, (b) plant production intensification, (c) diversification of production and (d) analysis of constraints for expansion of the programme. Aquaculture development is a component of diversification and is also integrated with water control.


In Zambia, the SPFS initiated its aquaculture activities by providing assistance to convert a farm into a demonstration farm for integrated aquaculture. The integrated production system of the Kalimina demonstration farm has attracted considerable interest among farmers. More recently, a consultant, drawing on the experiences of the regional ALCOM project, visited the sites of the SPFS in the country, where improved micro-irrigation practices are being introduced, to investigate the feasibility of integrating aquaculture into irrigation schemes to improve the use of farm resources and water and to increase overall farm output. A total of six sites were visited and five different options for integration identified . The sites are located in Kalomo, Mkushi and Chibombo Districts. The types of integration suggested were: Integrated ponds located at the highest point in the garden; ponds in flat waterlogged areas; ponds in sloping waterlogged areas; ponds as enlarged irrigation wells and; ponds not directly integrated into the irrigation water system. A specific pilot project for the demonstration of the proposed integration was formulated by the mission and is at present under consideration.


A TCP project for Vietnam "Integrated Golden Apple Snail Management in Rice" has been jointly implemented by the Agriculture and Fisheries Departments of the FAO since 1995. The Golden Apple Snail Pomacea canaliculata was introduced from South America into Vietnam were it became a serious pest of rice fields. After an initial assessment of the problem, the government of Vietnam requested assistance from the FAO for snail management in rice fields. Assistance included documentation of distribution of the pest in the various provinces of the country and the assessment of the degree of infestation. GIS techniques have been utilized for this purpose.Results indicate that the Golden Snail occurs in all the provinces, with the southern provinces showing more severe infestation. The floods continue the expansion of the infestation. The Government has initiated a massive programme to fight this pest, through the Plant Protection Department (PPD) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as lead unit and with the assistance of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Fisheries. Regulations on banning the import, transport and breeding of the Golden Snail have been issued. In addition an extensive information campaign has been initiated through posters and leaflets providing information on the snail. Experiments on snail control were also carried out using different botanical and chemical products and fish have been identified as a potential control mechanism. A fish breeding programme, including black carp and

other species, was designed in 1996 to supply fish for snail control. The black carp breeding programme will be started by the Research Institute for Aquaculture (RIA) No.1 in 1997 and it is expected that the selected sites will be stocked in August 1997.


TECAM Seminar on Genetics and Breeding of
Mediterranean Aquaculture Species

The seminar was convened in Zaragoza, Spain on 28 - 30 April 1997, by the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) in co-operation with the Fisheries Department of the FAO, as part of the activities of the Network on Technology of Aquaculture in the Mediterranean (TECAM). The seminar reviewed the status of application of genetics and breeding to the farming of fish and shellfish in the Mediterranean. It was organized in six sessions with the following themes:

  • selection and crossbreeding in marine fish;
  • selection and crossbreeding in shellfish;
  • application of molecular markers to aquaculture and broodstock management;
  • chromosome manipulation and transgenesis;
  • integrated design and breeding programmes; and
  • biodiversity and conservation of genetic resources in aquaculture and fisheries.


Dr. Devin Bartley of the FAO Fisheries Department attended the seminar and presented a paper entitled "Current status, tendencies and problems of genetics and breeding in aquaculture and fisheries".

The seminar was followed by a workshop which prepared a programme of work on genetics for TECAM, for submission to the next meeting of the Co-ordinating Committee for TECAM and SELAM. The main recommendations of the seminar and the proposed programme of work on genetics will be reported in the August issue of FAN, following publication of the relevant reports.