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Workshop Conclusions and Action Plan

An understanding of the issues

The Workshop concluded that the term "trash fish" was an inadequate term to describe the range of issues and different relative importance of the fish species caught that are collectively termed trash fish. It also noted that the term trash fish was used differently in different countries - in some it only referred to fish that was used for livestock/fish food, while in others it covered both livestock/fish food and human food. The Workshop also noted that inland small/low economic value fish share the same issues as coastal small/low economic value fish but recognised their importance as human food, particularly for the rural and coastal poor. Some participants felt that the term trash fish should only refer to the small/low economic value fish caught by larger scale trawlers operating further offshore, whilst others felt that the term should be replaced by some other term, such as "lowest value fish".

This broad range of opinion meant that the Workshop could not agree on a common generic term and noted the difficulties that could occur in some countries, such as China, if the term trash fish was dropped for general use (for statistical purposes, China uses the term trash fish for fish that are utilized for animal feed and "low value fish" for those fish destined for human use). Taking this into account, the workshop recommended the use of an overarching term "low value/trash fish" in order to discuss the important issues and not become trapped in extended discussions over terminology. The Workshop recognized that these fish are generally of relatively low economic value and typically small-sized and can be used for either human consumption or as animal feeds (both for fish and livestock). They may be used directly in both aquaculture to feed other fish or processed into fish meal/oil for incorporation into formulated diets. The same is true for human food, where the fish may be consumed directly, or further processed, often using traditional methods of processing small fish. The use or disposal of these fish is strongly market-driven and linked to both direct human food demands, as well as wider livestock/aquaculture production sectors.

Within the Asian region, the umbrella term low value/trash fish covers discarded fish, direct feeding of low value/trash fish for aquaculture, low value/trash fish for human use, low value/trash fish for fish meal/oil etc. It was agreed that it was more important to focus on the issues and types of use for these fish, rather than insisting on a regionally accepted generic term. However, it is important to use the same term for the different categories of fish within the region that are included in the umbrella term - low value/trash fish.

Based on this understanding, the Workshop developed a list of issues relating to low value/trash fish that covered the following:

Action plan to address the issues

The Workshop developed an action plan to address these issues. This was based on a diagrammatic understanding of the supply and demand cycle for low value/trash fish and possible points for intervention (Figure 1). The identified points for intervention are shown in the boxes and include fishery interventions, improved utilization and improved feeds for aquaculture. It was also recognised that there is clear need for consistent policy between aquaculture development and fishery management, based on a common understanding and information base for decision-making.

Figure 1: Demand and supply cycle for low value/trash fish and intervention points (in boxes)

Information and communication

The Workshop agreed that many of the serious issues associated with the increased catch of low value/trash fish would be addressed by adopting the following actions:

1. Adopt the following categories for data collection

i. discards
ii. direct aquaculture feed
iii. indirect aquaculture/livestock feed (meal and oil)
iv. human food (including processed products); and
v. others (non-food use e.g. fertilizers)

2. Provide a better understanding of the status, trends and utilization of low value/trash fish for planning and management;

3. Communicate the low value/trash fish issues to all stakeholders;

4. Improve awareness of the potential of pellet feeds for aquaculture;

5. Improve awareness of the suitability for human consumption; and

6. Recognize the importance of small fish in rural and coastal livelihoods.

Fishery interventions

1. Reduce trawling and push net effort (and clearly monitor the effect of capacity reduction);
2. Introduce improved selectivity of fishing gears/fishing practices;
3. Facilitate reduction in "race for fish" through rights based fisheries and co-management;
4. Protect juvenile nursery areas (refugia/closed areas, seasonal closures); and
5. Provide alternative social support measures (including employment).

Improved utilization

1. Improve post-harvest fish handling; and
2. Develop new fish products through processing.

Improve feeds for aquaculture

1. Change over from direct feeding to pellet feeding;
2. Reduce fish meal content by substitution of suitable ingredients in pellets;
3. Invest in feed research for inland/marine species; and
4. Promote adoption and change over to pellet feeds.

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