FAO/Government of Australia Expert Consultation on

FAO/Government of Australia
Expert Consultation on:


Good management practices and
good legal and institutional arrangements for
sustainable shrimp

In December 1997, FAO convened the Technical Consultation on Policies for Sustainable Shrimp Culture in Bangkok, Thailand. This "Bangkok Consultation" brought together government delegates and observers from 12 countries of Asia and the Americas accounting for about 90 percent of the global production of cultured shrimp and including major consuming countries. Observers from five inter-governmental organizations and from four international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also attended. The Consultation noted that the achievement of sustainable shrimp culture is dependent on effective government policy and regulatory actions, as well as the cooperation of the shrimp farming sector in utilizing sound technology in its planning, development and operations. In this regard, the Consultation recommended that FAO convene expert meetings to elaborate best practices (the Report of the Bangkok FAO Technical Consultation refers to "best practices". The term "Good Management Practice" (GMP) was adopted by FAO for this Expert Consultation) for shrimp culture and desirable elements of the legal and other regulatory instruments for coastal aquaculture.

The Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA), in partnership with the World Bank (WB), the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and FAO, is implementing a Consortium Programme on Shrimp Farming and the Environment. Central objectives of the Consortium are to identify better management practices for shrimp farming under various environmental, economic and social conditions and to assess the cost-benefits for farmers to adopt these practices individually and in co-ordination with other farmers. This information is expected to help governments and the private sector develop support strategies and specific assistance measures to aid farmers in overcoming the constraints that currently prevent them from adopting better management practices. These strategies may encompass the adoption of codes of practices, improved extension services, economic incentives and others. The Consortium Programme is undertaken primarily through a series of case studies covering all major regions producing cultured shrimp.

Shrimp farming guidelines and codes of practices have been developed, or are under development, in a number of countries (e.g. Australia, Belize, Ecuador, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Thailand). At the international level, a code has also been elaborated by an industry organization, the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), that is intended to provide the basis for a future eco-labelling programme. Guidelines are also under development for the production of organically grown shrimp.

One area of special concern is the management of shrimp disease. FAO has been providing assistance to several member countries on health management in shrimp culture and has taken the lead in conducting the review on management strategies for major diseases in shrimp farming, one of the thematic reviews under the Consortium Programme. In cooperation with several other agencies and organizations, FAO is currently conducting a number of programmes aimed at developing Good Management Practices (GMPs) for shrimp health management in both Asia and the Americas.

The Legal Office of FAO is currently working on a comparative survey of national laws and regulations governing shrimp culture. The purpose of the survey is to examine and compare relevant national legislation, particularly the legal requirements concerning the environmental impacts of shrimp culture and the measures applicable to the development of shrimp farming installations, the continuing operational controls, and the legal requirements that apply upon the cessation of activities, and aspects related to enforcement of the relevant legislation. This information is expected to help identify good legal and institutional arrangements and the current constraints for countries to adopt them.

As a follow up to the recommendations from the Bangkok Consultation and in support of the above activities, an Expert Consultation was convened by FAO and the Government of Australia on 4-7 December 2000. The objectives of the Expert Consultation were to:

  • Provide a recognized international forum for discussion on the major aspects related to the promotion of sustainable shrimp culture practices, as well as of related institutional and legal instruments.
  • Continue facilitating the process of consensus building among major stakeholders concerned with shrimp culture development and management.
  • Identify/determine avenues, as well as specific benefits and limitations, for the development and implementation of Good Management Practices (GMPs) and Good Legal and Institutional Arrangements (GLIAs) leading to improvements in shrimp culture management practices at the farm and institutional levels.
  • The Expert Consultation was expected to produce the following outputs:

  • A set of "generic" farm-level GMPs that are widely applicable in shrimp culture throughout the world.
  • Guidelines for the development and implementation of situation-specific GMPs at the national or sub-national level; these guidelines would relate to, inter alia, the identification of situation-specific issues, the methodology for cost-benefit analysis of GMPs, stakeholder participation, etc.
  • Constraints analysis for the adoption of GMPs and how to overcome them, including strategies to support farmers and farmer organizations in implementing better management practices.
  • A set of "generic" GLIAs that are widely applicable in shrimp culture throughout the world.
  • Guidelines for the development and implementation of country-specific GLIAs that take into account a country’s specific legal and institutional conditions.
  • Constraints analysis for the adoption of GLIAs and how to overcome them, including strategies to support implementation of good institutional and legal arrangements.
  • Three working papers were prepared by FAO for the Consultation: (i) a Working Paper on Operating Principles for Sustainable Shrimp Culture; (ii) a Working Paper on Draft Guidelines for the Development and Implementation of Situation-specific GMPs at the National or Sub-national Level; and (iii) a Working Paper on Good Legal and Institutional Arrangements for Shrimp Culture. These working papers served as reference documents for Consultation Working Groups, and were subsequently discussed and further developed by participants during each Working Group session. Additional documents were submitted by delegates. One of the expected outputs of the Expert Consultation was a set of "generic’’ farm-level GMPs that are widely applicable throughout the world. However, during the course of preparation and the conduct of the Consultation, the participants felt that the term "Operating Principles" for sustainable shrimp culture was preferred, because GMPs carried with them the connotation of precisely defined farm-level practices. As GMPs would always be highly specific to a particular environment, location and farming system, the use of the generic term "Operating Principles" was considered to be more appropriate.

    The Expert Consultation adopted the following recommendations:

  • There is a need for a consultative follow-up process after the Expert Consultation.
  • This process should initially involve finalizing the report of the Expert Consultation, including revision of the Working Group reports, taking account of the issues raised during plenary discussions and particularly, ensuring conformity and links between objectives, on- and off-farm operating principles and GLIAs.
  • The process should then bring together practical examples on GMPs and identify mechanisms to support their implementation. The following was recommended:
  • estimation of the qualitative and quantitative costs and benefits of implementation of GMPs/operating principles. Financial and economic analyses of best compared to worst practices were recommended; the analyses would take into account the applicability of GMPs at different levels from generic to farm levels;
  • identification of performance criteria to monitor the effectiveness of operating principles, GMPs and GLIAs, taking into account the need for cost-effective monitoring based on a limited number of key indicators; and
  • special attention to identification of GMPs and GLIAs for "retrofitting" of large numbers of existing farms and mobilization of required technical and financial support.
  • FAO and other agencies should produce and share information on development and implementation of GMPs and GLIAs.
  • The World Bank/NACA/WWF/FAO Consortium is requested to take responsibility for collating information on management practices as identified above, making further extensive use of the existing case materials from the Consortium’s work and other relevant sources.
  • In the process of developing the GMPs, documentation recommended by the Expert Consultation, linkage and exchange of experiences with farmers’ associations, governments, academic and research institutions, professional associations, NGOs and other organizations with experience and insight is strongly encouraged.
  • The Expert Consultation recommends that a document on the objectives and operating principles, and the legal and institutional arrangements to support implementation, be prepared for presentation to an inter-governmental forum for formal adoption. The Expert Consultation requests FAO to facilitate this process.
  • The Expert Consultation considered that two issues in particular have to be addressed in the process of further development and implementation of GMPs: (a) that farmers’ associations have a particularly important role in development and implementation of GMPs, particularly for small-scale farmers; and (b) dialogue and cooperation between farmers’ associations, government organizations, seafood export associations and other stakeholders is required in the development and implementation of GMPs. In this regard, the Expert Consultation made the following recommendations:

  • preparation of a review of farmers’ associations, identifying the factors for success, to provide practical guidance on development and operation of successful farmers’ associations;
  • promotion of meetings of farmers’ associations to review and develop GMPs in cooperation with relevant government agencies, where desirable;
  • promotion of dialogue and cooperation between farmers’ associations, government organizations, seafood export associations and other stakeholders in the development and implementation of GMPs;
  • more effective networking among shrimp farmers’ associations is required, and a regional shrimp farmers’ network may be particularly useful in Asia. The Expert Consultation requested NACA to facilitate a meeting of shrimp farmers’ associations in Asia. The agenda should be driven by the farmers’ associations;
  • The Expert Consultation recommended that the following additional measures be promoted to facilitate the development and implementation of GMPs and GLIAs in shrimp culture:

  • preparation of a review that will bring together experiences in success and failure in management of farm clusters and nucleus estates. Such a document can provide guidelines on how such nucleus estates might work best;
  • preparation of an evaluation of the potential use of the operating principles as basis for investment and buyer screens, providing an incentive for investments in farms operating according to good management practices;
  • elaboration of best practices for government–farmer consultation and cooperation at various levels (i.e. central, provincial and local levels) in the development and implementation of GMPs and GLIAs;
  • that financial and technical assistance should be directed to support development and implementation of GMPs and GLIAs, with special attention to small-scale farmers and farmers associations; and
  • further evaluation of existing Codes of Conduct and implementation plans be carried out to assess their universal application.
  • The full report of this consultation is now published as "FAO/Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia. Report of the FAO/Government Australia Expert Consultation on Good Management Practices and Good Legal and Institutional Arrangements for Sustainable Shrimp Culture. Brisbane, Australia, 4-7 December 2000. FAO Fisheries Report. No. 659. Rome, FAO. 2001. 70 p." For a copy, please write to: Rohana.Subasinghe@fao.org