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FAO Expert Workshop

Freshwater Seed as Global Resource for Aquaculture

Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, P.R. China, 23–26 March 2006

Melba B. Reantaso

Dave Little, IoA, University of Stirling, Scotland

Shrimp and fish traps commonly used for capturing wild fish and shrimps in the Red River Delta, Viet Nam, providing additional income to rural fish farmers

Melba B. Reantaso
Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service,
FAO Fisheries Department, Rome

Land, water, seed and feed constitute the four most important resources to aquaculture. Efficient use of these resources are necessary to guarantee optimum production from aquaculture. Availability of quality fish seed is a prerequisite for adoption of sustainable aquaculture especially for smallholders.

A number of regional and international events have highlighted some of the most pressing issues concerning seed in global aquaculture development. The proceedings of a special session on ‘Rural Aquaculture’ convened during the Fifth Asian Fisheries Forum, International Conference on Fisheries and Food Security Beyond the Year 2000, held in November 1998 in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Edwards et al. (2002)1 identified seed as one of the five major issues affecting rural aquaculture development and considered two aspects: (a) role of the private sector; and (b) types of hatcheries (i.e. large, centralised government or small, decentralised hatcheries -which need further consideration in seed production. As part of the same publication, Little et al. (2001)2 reported poor quality seed as a major constraint to the success of fish culture, especially for new entrant farmers and poorer smallholders.

Regional reviews (Asia, Africa and Latin America) from the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millemium (NACA/FAO 2001)3, held in Bangkok, Thailand in February 2000, recognized important issues concerning seed as a significant resource for aquaculture. In the Asian region, Kongkeo (2001)4 emphasized that one of the technical constraints in Asian aquaculture is the inadequate and unreliable supply of quality fish seed. Machena and Moehl (2001)5 identified the lack of fish seed as a serious restriction to aquaculture development in sub-Saharan African region. In Latin America, Hernandez-Rodriquez et al. (2001)6 reported that for tilapia culture, maintenance of high genetic quality within the stock as well as development of disease-resistant strains are important issues for consideration as they adversely affect growth, harvest size and profitability. In general terms, broodstock and seed supply have been identified as representing a major constraint to production increases not only in terms of availability but also health management. Several major initiatives are underway to develop methods for the use of specific-pathogen-free and high-health seed production. Such strategies involve domestication allowing the development of commercial breeding programmes for the establishment and maintenance of desirable traits. El-Gamal (2001)7 in a review of the status and development trends of aquaculture in the Near East concluded that availability of seed is a crucial technological constraints to future development of aquaculture in the Near East region. In Egypt, insufficient numbers of tilapia fingerlings are produced in governmental hatcheries and do not match the need for fish farm requirements.He concluded that promotion of aquaculture should not be made unless there is an assured supply of seed from hatchery sources. De Silva (2001)8, in his global perspective of aquaculture in the new millenium, suggested that in culture-based fisheries one of the major limitations is the lack of suitably sized fingerlings for stocking due to inadequate hatchery technology, inadequate facilities for fry to fingerling rearing and distribution mechanisms.

The ASEAN-SEAFDEC Conference on ‘Sustainable Fisheries for Food Security in the New Millenium’ held in Bangkok in November 2001, identified four major elements affecting quality of seed resources for sustainable aquaculture. These are: (a) seasonality and inconsistency of seed supply; (b) inadequate support for seed production; (c) deterioration in quality of seed stocks; and (d) impacts of releases of cultured seed stocks (Mair, 2002)9.

The report of the Second Session of the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture (Norway, 2003) highlighted the lack of seed as an important issue in culture-based fisheries (Section xxii, para. 53) and which requires further work in order to promote this important sector of aquaculture (FAO, 2003)10.

Most recently, the Thirteenth Session of the Committee for Inland Fisheries of Africa (CIFA) held from 27 to 30 October 2004 highlighted two important points: (a) lack of quality seed as one of the important factors limiting the contribution of aquaculture to food security and economic growth; and (b) availability of strong and disease-free seed as one of the major constraints to aquaculture development in the region. The meeting also recognized that seed shortage represents the failure of government hatcheries to meet the expressed demand; noted the progressive involvement of the private sector to revive the seed production industry and the need for more private hatcheries with business orientation.

Pham An Tuan, RIA1, Viet Nam

Small-sized incubation jars used in common carp and catfish hatcheries in Viet Nam

Outlook and prospects

The above-mentioned meetings/events have repeatedly highlighted the various issues surrounding seed as an important resource for sustainable aquaculture development. The factors affecting seed availability, seed quality, seed production technologies and support services, seed distribution networks, etc. need to be understood well if resources are best to be targeted and policy decisions on future investment and management options improved. The development of breeding and hatchery technology, genetic improvement and domestication are additional key objectives for securing the seed supply for major aquaculture species.

The FAO Fisheries Department through the Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service (FIRI) is organizing an Expert Workshop on Freshwater Seed as Global Resource for Aquaculture in Wuxi, China on 23–26 March 2006,in order to present the regional syntheses of freshwater seed resources used for aquaculture in Asia, Africa and Latin America based on a number of case studies from a number of selected countries (Bangladesh, Brasil, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uganda, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe) from the three regions. In addition, reviews on selected themes, e.g., (a) seed quality (hatchery health management, seed health management, risk analysis for seed movement; criteria for seed quality prior to stocking), (b) genetics and breeding of important freshwater species, (c) seed production network and entrepreneurship, (d) seed technology, (e) role in rural aquaculture, (f) economics of seed production; and (g) experiences using farmer innovations and women involvement in seed production, will also be presented. All the information collected will form the basis for the working group discussions of the major issues faced by the seed sector. We hope that the various processes undertaken leading to the expert workshop will provide useful lessons and a better understanding of the seed sector. The proposed workshop will evaluate current constraints and challenges faced by the seed sector as basis for identifying measures and generating action that will contribute to its further development and sustainable use for global aquaculture with special reference to rural aquaculture.

Pham An Tuan, RIA1, Viet Nam

Grading of tilapia eggs and larvae prior to incubation (Viet Nam)

For further information, please contact:

Melba B. Reantaso at FAO-FIRI
e-mail: Melba.Reantaso@fao.org

1 Edwards, P., Little, D.C. & Demaine, H. 2002. Rural Aquaculture. UK: CABI Publishing. 385 p.
2 Little, D.C., Satapornvanit, A. & Edwards, P. 2002. Freshwater fish seed quality in Asia, pp. 185–195. In P. Edwards, D.C. Little & H. Demaine. Rural Aquaculture. UK: CABI Publishing. 385 p.
3 NACA/FAO. 2001. Aquaculture in the Third Millenium. Subasinghe, R.P., Bueno, P., Phillips, M.J., Hough, C., McGladdery, S.E. & Arthur, J.R. (eds). 2001. Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millenium, Bangkok, Thailand, 20–25 February 2000. NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome. 471 pp.
4 Kongkeo, H. 2001. Current status and development trends of aquaculture in the Asian Region. In R.P. Subasinghe, P. Bueno, M.J. Phillips, C. Hough, S.E. McGladdery & J.R. Arthur, eds. Aquaculture in the Third Millenium. Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millenium, Bangkok, Thailand, 20–25 February 2000. pp. 267–293. NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome.
5 Machena, C., & Moehl, J. 2001. African Aquaculture: A regional summary with emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa. In R.P. Subasinghe, P. Bueno, M.J. Phillips, C. Hough, S.E. McGladdery & J.R. Arthur, eds. Aquaculture in the Third Millenium. Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millenium, Bangkok, Thailand, 20–25 February 2000. pp. 341–356. NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome.
6 Hernandez-Rodriguez, A., Alceste-Oliviero, C., Sanchez, R., Jory, D., Vidal, L. & Constain-Franco, L.-F. 2001. Aquaculture development trends in Latin America and the Caribbean. In R.P. Subasinghe, P. Bueno, M.J. Phillips, C. Hough, S.E. McGladdery & J.R. Arthur, eds. Aquaculture in the Third Millenium. Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millenium, Bangkok, Thailand, 20–25 February 2000. pp. 317–340. NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome.
7 El Gamal, A.R. 2001. Status and development trends of aquaculture in the Near East. In R.P. Subasinghe, P. Bueno, M.J. Phillips, C. Hough, S.E. McGladdery & J.R. Arthur, eds. Aquaculture in the Third Millenium. Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millenium, Bangkok, Thailand, 20–25 February 2000. pp. 357–376. NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome.
8 De Silva, S.S. 2001. A global perspective of aquaculture in the new millenium. In R.P. Subasinghe, P. Bueno, M.J. Phillips, C. Hough, S.E. McGladdery & J.R. Arthur, eds. Aquaculture in the Third Millenium. Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millenium, Bangkok, Thailand, 20–25 February 2000. pp. 431–459 NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome.
9 Mair, G. 2002. Topical issues in genetic diversity and breeding: genes and fish: supply of good quality fish seed for sustainable aquaculture. Aquaculture Asia, VII(2): 25–27. NACA, Bangkok, Thailand.
10 FAO. 2003. Report of the Second Session of the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture, Trondheim, Norway, 7–11 August 2003. FAO Fisheries Report No. 716. Rome, FAO. 91 p.

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