8. The Secretariat introduced document COFI:AQ/I/2002/2 outlining status, issues and prospects for aquaculture development and management. Most delegates commended the Secretariat on the quality of the working and information documents.
9. Many Delegates acknowledged the important role of commercial and rural aquaculture and described their experiences in aquaculture development. The Sub-Committee indicated that it would be extremely beneficial if these experiences could be shared. Noting that the Sub-Committee is the only global forum for intergovernmental multilateral discussions on aquaculture delegates reaffirmed that the Sub-Committee provided a forum for such an exchange of information.
10. Some delegates stressed that environmental impact assessment should be an important aspect of aquaculture development. Thus it was suggested that FAO might consider to undertake comparative analyses of the environmental impacts of agriculture and fishery production, including an analysis of the terrestrial livestock and crop sectors. The impacts of alien species (exotic species, introductions and/or translocations), antibiotics and other inputs, and genetically altered species on biodiversity, should be an important part of environmental impact assessment.
11. Several delegates acknowledged the importance of integrated resource management in reducing the use of inputs, such as feed and fertilizer, and the recycling of water. Water management was stressed as an important element of resource management and it was emphasized that countries should develop water resource management plans which included aquaculture activities where necessary. One delegate identified tourism as a sector that needed to be part of the integration. The Sub-Committee pointed out that factors associated with other sectors impact and constrain aquaculture development, including loss and degradation of aquatic habitat, reduction in freshwater quantity and quality, poor land use and genetic contamination of species.
12. Many delegates stressed that the issue of food quality, product safety and certification has important considerations for international trade and access to foreign markets, especially for developing countries. It was noted that some developing countries do not have the capacity to collect necessary information for some types of product certification. The Sub-Committee suggested that FAO develop guidelines for the elaboration of transparent and non-discriminatory certification procedures. Particular mention was made of the recent labelling initiatives in Japan and the European Community to distinguish farmed from wild products and increased demands for traceability of food products. The delegation of Canada informed the Sub-Committee that it would be willing to offer technical assistance to developing countries to assist them in meeting food safety certification obligations.
13. The Sub-Committee acknowledged the importance of international trade in aquaculture products. Several delegates stated that access to markets should be fair and that import/export standards on, inter alia, food quality, should be harmonized in order to avoid non-tariff trade barriers. The Sub-Committee urged close communication between developed and developing countries in these matters and that developed countries should provide technical assistance to developing countries in meeting these requirements.
14. The Sub-Committee further acknowledged that aquaculture can provide products for local and external markets and noted that export-oriented aquaculture may create conflicts for local communities. Delegates suggested that commercial aquaculture and rural small-scale aquaculture should cooperate rather than compete and that rural communities should be considered in policies on aquaculture development. The Sub-Committee also stressed the need to update information on aquaculture development and make this available, especially with regard to rural development.
15. Many delegates highlighted the need for creating conducive policy, financial and legal environments for aquaculture development, that included, inter alia, individual and community-based legal frameworks addressing the rights and obligations of aquaculturists, and which will improve access to credit. Some delegates informed the Sub-Committee that they have taken steps, such as the issuing of permits, to confer such rights to aquaculturists in their countries. Several delegates stressed that incentives should be provided to help promote sustainable aquaculture development and policies needed to be developed at national level for both the public and private sector. Such policies should address, inter alia, use of public resources, conflict identification and resolution, small-scale aquaculture, and use of alien species.
16. The Sub-Committee acknowledged that sub-regional, regional, and bilateral collaboration were of extreme importance, taking the form of information exchange, technology transfer, south-south cooperation, and education and training. Existing mechanisms, such as Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC), could be reviewed to improve their effectiveness. In this regard the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA) offered their assistance in convening an ad hoc meeting to address inter-regional cooperation. The European Aquaculture Society (EAS) suggested that FAO, together with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others, create user-friendly statements for the mass media and consumers in order to foster a conducive institutional and policy environment. It was also noted that more collaboration was needed within States between relevant government agencies and stakeholders.
17. The Sub-Committee appreciated the role that technology can play and raised several important technical issues relating to aquaculture research, development and management. Delegates identified biotechnology, specifically disease resistance and genetic technologies, as well as fish health and quarantine, food quality, feed technologies, stock enhancement, culture-based fisheries and stock restoration, development of new species for aquaculture and improved domesticated strains, risk assessment, and food safety technologies as areas requiring technical assistance. Research was also identified as being needed in aquaculture production, consumer organizations, consumer information and trade.
18. The Sub-Committee highlighted the importance of education, training, human resource development, and the strengthening of extension services, especially in low input systems and stressed the important role FAO could play in this regard.
19. Some delegates noted the importance of aquaculture for small island developing States, as well as the potential for the culture of ornamental fishes and live fish feed.
20. Delegates stated that it was necessary to develop strategies for responsible aquaculture development that would include fishery and environmental conservation, consumer health, seed and feed quality, economic viability and market development, and that developing countries should be assisted in formulating these strategies. The Sub-Committee recognized the limited resources of FAO and suggested that countries submit to FAO reports on their various activities related to aquaculture development and management in order to start a process of information sharing to assist FAO in future work.
21. Several observers stated their desire for increased collaboration with FAO. Key areas identified were aquaculture and poverty alleviation within rural development in collaboration with NACA and fish health management in collaboration with the International Office of Epizootics (OIE).