From left to right: Mr P. Adireksan,
Minister of Agriculture and
Cooperatives, Thailand,
Mr D. Prakobboon, Director-General of Fisheries, Thailand and
Mr Jia Jiansan, Chief of the Inland Water Resources and
Aquaculture Service, FAO.

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This is the speech given at the inaugural session of the Conference on Aquaculture in the third Millennium, by Mr Jia Jiansan, Chief of the Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service, FAO.

Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium, Bangkok, Thailand 20-25 February 2000

Professor De Silva and Dr Laszlo Varadi – Joint Chairpersons, Members of the Panel, Fellow Participants,

Keynote Address II
Aquaculture Beyond 2000: Global Prospects

Jia Jiansan1, Ulf Wijkstr÷m2
Rohana Subasinghe1 and Uwe Barg1
Fishery Resources Division1
Fishery Policy and Planning Division2

It is my pleasure to be here today, at this Conference on aquaculture in the Third Millennium, to deliver this Second Keynote Address entitled “Aquaculture Beyond 2000: Global Prospects”.

During the last Keynote Address, Dr Pillay elaborated the journey from Kyoto to Bangkok. Dr Subasinghe’s Introduction covered the scope and purpose of the Conference. In my Keynote, I do not intend to provide you with a detailed analysis of specific trends in aquaculture sector. They will be covered by the regional and global trends reviews and the thematic reviews which will be presented over the next few days.

In this Keynote, I will attempt to look at some broad global trends, key issues and constraints, and important challenges and development prospects for the future, in realizing the full potential of aquaculture for humankind. I would like you to debate, discuss, and consider these “Food for Thought” ideas over the next few days for achieving our objectives of the Conference.

In my presentation, I attempt to cover, briefly, within the given 25 minutes or so, the following:

  • Short introduction and an overview of the aquaculture sector today

  • Major trends and issues – where do we stand?

  • Future aquaculture development – prospects and outlook, and

  • Conclusions

Introduction and Overview

Over the past three decades, aquaculture has developed to become the fastest growing food producing sector in the world. Aquaculture has

 

 

expanded, diversified, intensified, and technologically advanced, and its contribution to aquatic food production has increased significantly.

Aquaculture is highly diverse and consists of a broad spectrum of systems, practices, operations ranging from simple backyard small, household pond systems to large-scale, highly intensive commercially oriented practices.

A large proportion of aquaculture production comes from small-scale producers in developing countries and Low Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) and the sector contributes to food security, poverty alleviation, and social wellbeing in many countries.

Contributions of aquaculture to trade, both local and international, have increased over the past decades, and its share in the generation of income and employment and for national economic development has increased in many countries.

The world population is in the increase as is the demand for aquatic food products.

The production from capture fisheries at global level is leveling off and most of the main fishing areas in the Atlantic ocean and some in the Pacific have reached their maximum potential. Some additional contribution from capture fisheries may derive from increased landings in some fishing areas both marine and inland.

 

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Global fish supply could be increased through reduction of discards and by-catch and utilization for human consumption of, at least part of, the catch going for reduction to fishmeal and fish oils. Better management of fishery resources, and enhanced efforts to protect fishery resources from accelerating environmental degradation, particularly in inland waters and estuaries, may well contribute to sustained, if not enhanced fish supplies in the medium to long term.

However, aquaculture appears to have the significant potential to meet the increasing demand for aquatic products in most regions of the world. Potential contributions of aquaculture to local food security and livelihoods however can be very significant, especially in many remote and resource-poor rural areas.

However, it appears that the full potential of the aquaculture sector to contribute to human development and social empowerment is yet to be realized, and therefore the sector may require new approaches to realize its goals beyond 2000.

These approaches could be different in different countries, and depend on country specific circumstances and the national development plans, goals, and aspirations. The challenge is to develop such approaches, which are realistic and achievable, within the context of current social, economic, environmental, and political circumstances. Such approaches should not focus only on increasing production; they should focus on producing a product which is affordable, acceptable, and accessible to all sectors of the society.

Major Trends and Issues
Where do we stand?


Aquaculture can be an activity which produces nutritious, high value species using sophisticated systems, a mechanism for local food security, rural livelihoods, and poverty alleviation, and a sector which provides income (local and foreign exchange), employment and food security. Aquaculture is an income-generating activity.

However, rapid sector growth has, in some instances, outstripped planning and regulatory activities. The regulatory requirements have grown over-proportionately as resource use conflicts have

occurred, resource scarcities have become more constraining, and demand for product quality and safety increased significantly. Increasingly, some developed country markets will consider additional product attributes to environmental and social impacts of production.

It may be necessary to redefine and/or reasses the respective roles of government and private sector, including producers’ association and organizations, in managing aquaculture development.

In some regions, aquaculture faces a considerable problem with public perception. Yes, in some cases, aquaculture development has failed to keep up with, or meet, some environmental and socio-economic issues and expectations. Future aquaculture development should certainly continue producing a product, which is acceptable to public and consumers, in terms of price, quality, safety and environmental costs. In some regions, aquaculture has a very long tradition, and is well recognized and accepted as an important food supplying practice.

Development Prospects and Outlook

The constraints in farming can be highly complex and often of technical/technological nature. However, overall success of farming may depend largely on economics and social issues. The challenge will be to focus on meeting social needs – i.e. food security, poverty, livelihoods, community development, etc. rather than solely trying to produce fish. While doing so, the sector should be well integrated into the overall development programme so that the conflicts can be minimized.

It is also important that necessary technical/technological means/solutions and capacity building needs are met for the future success of the sector.
Aquaculture will continue to grow but will have to address the costs of production, quality and safety of products, international trade obligations and requirements, environmental concerns, etc. More

 

emphasis on investment, research, information, and public perception would be needed. Challenges for increasing aquaculture’s contribution to food security, poverty alleviation and rural livelihoods will have to be addressed.

The essential challenge for future aquaculture development would be to ensure that the full potential of aquaculture is realized and a nutritious, safe and quality product, which is affordable, acceptable, and accessible to all sectors of the society, is produced. In doing so we need to address the following needs and opportunities.

We have to assist in feeding people in this millennium. This means investing in food security! Aquaculture can play a significant role in this respect!

We have to assist in social development, poverty alleviation, and improving livelihoods of people. In doing so, there is a need to increase emphasis on aquaculture and aqua-farmers in national social and economic development plans and endeavours with the view to enhancing institutional and financial support for the sector.

This can only be achieved though investing in human resources including existing and future aquaculture practitioners as well as government and non-government agencies and institutions. Investing in training, education, extension, information and communication are important in this respect. Use of modern information and communication tools and methods such as the Internet, and other state of the art communication methodologies will have to be given due consideration, as will the essential requirement to ensure broad-based public access, especially the farmers, to these sources of information.

We must create and provide an enabling environment, with an appropriate policy, legal and institutional framework to facilitate access to key development resources, such as financial resources and knowledge. There is a strong need for greater emphasis on institutional support, that is support not only to government ministries and public sector agencies dealing with administration, extension, and research and development, but also to organizations and institutions representing private sector, consumers and other stakeholders.

Aquaculture development, especially if it is to be sustainable and for food security, may need to be stimulated, at least in the beginning, so there should be a key point on increasing access to credit for farmers, producers, and local marketing.

It is important to understand the investment opportunities in the sector. In an era of globalization, it is imperative to emphasize national and international trends of trade.

Trade of aquaculture produce, input supplies, capital, and of information is important to mention. Aquaculture dependence on key natural resources

such as water, land, seed, nutrients. There is strong pressure or drive for more production and marketing systems, which are more efficient and more effective in terms of the resource utilization. In this respect, we should invest in research on developing production and marketing systems with better resources utilization and more efficient performance.

During production, there should be emphasis on targeting the consumers. We must emphasize the difference between mass production and production for the masses. For example, trends of formerly expensive produce such as salmon and shrimp are increasingly becoming affordable by larger segments of the population. We should compete and complement other food producing sectors and providers.

The aquaculture produce should be acceptable to all sectors of the society. Tremendous gains will be possible through improved biotechnology, genetic modification, improved nutrition, probiotics, disease diagnosis and treatment.

However, the problems are consumer resistance to perceived risks stemming from “unnatural” products, ethical problems and fear of unknown technologies will affect potential gain. Environmental and human health issues will slow development or reduce market access. Strategic solutions are required.

We should emphasize biosafety issues, development and promotion of biotechnology that conserves environment; we should promote policies that support ethical issues of welfare and autonomy, and emphasize labelling and transparency for production process and beneficiaries. There is a need to increase the impact of research to understand technical and other constraints and to enhance the applicability and use of research results in the development of strategies to overcome these challenges.

Stakeholder participation and consultation in aquaculture development decision-making, and policy planning should be duly considered. Aquaculture’s potential for social empowerment should be harnessed, and the involvement of more women in aquaculture development should be given due respect. The trust between producers and consumers needs to be improved and avenues must be found to achieve this. Public relations, campaigns, and labelling issues will have to be addressed.

The role of regional and interregional cooperation in achieving the future development goals for aquaculture should be reviewed and strengthened, based on the benefits to aquaculture development from regional and interregional cooperation seen over the past 25 years. There are considerable opportunities to increase the impact on aquaculture development through regional and interregional cooperation and therefore further strengthening of such cooperation is recommended.