This report provides an overview of the Asia-Pacific situation with regard to low value/trash fish production, with special emphasis on the important impact of aquaculture development and human consumption demand. Fishing for low value/trash fish has in recent decades evolved as an important economic activity and the sustainability of these fishing activities will need to be assured for the overall well-being of small fishing communities in the region. One concern in this respect is that the increasing demand from aquaculture, and the benefits that accrue in terms of export earnings, may be at the expense of local fish markets and the fishery ecosystem.
The report includes recent information on the status and trends of low value/trash fish production and uses in the Asian region. It also highlights many emerging issues to identify actions to reverse the unfavourable trends and promote sustainable development of both fisheries and aquaculture and to provide input for a more thorough policy analysis. These issues include the increasing demand for trash/low value fish as feed for aquaculture (through both direct feeding and through conversion into fish meal/oil), the sustainability of harvesting in an attempt to meet this demand, the impact on the ecosystems, the incentives for lower post-harvest handling, growth overfishing of small juveniles of commercially important species, discarding at sea, and social concerns of using trash/low value fish to feed livestock rather than as a source of animal protein for poor people.
I trust that this report will raise awareness of the evolution of the fisheries in the Asia-Pacific region from "fisheries for the people" to "fisheries for aquaculture" and alert decision-makers at all level of government and non-government of the seriousness of the issues associated with this change. It is our hope that through the Asia-Pacific Fisheries Commission, a suite of actions will be agreed and implemented.
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific