COMMITTEE ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY
Rome, 12-16 May 2003
THE ROLE OF AQUACULTURE IN IMPROVING FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION
1. This paper discusses the contribution that aquaculture makes to the diet at global and community levels, and its role in poverty reduction and food insecurity, highlighting areas for the Committee to provide guidance on how this sub-sector can play a greater role in fighting hunger and malnutrition.
2. Hunger and malnutrition remain amongst the most devastating problems facing the world's poor. Tragically, a considerable portion of the global population is currently suffering from one or more forms of nutrient deficiencies. This remains a continuing travesty of the recognized fundamental human right to adequate food, and freedom from hunger and malnutrition, particularly in a world that has both the resources and knowledge to end this catastrophe1.
3. The challenge is to rapidly accelerate the pace by which hunger and malnutrition are eliminated, and aquaculture has an important role to play in this effort by providing fish and other marine and fresh-water products, which commonly are rich sources of protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, and by providing incomes and employment opportunities. This can be especially important for poor artisanal fisherfolk whose livelihoods depend upon small-scale fisheries activities. With support for aquaculture, the worldwide availability of good quality marine and fresh water animal products can be increased allowing per capita supplies to keep pace with the increase in demand. To ensure that such benefits reach those who need it most, the involvement of the artisanal fishfolk in this effort must not be neglected.
4. Fish can make a unique contribution to efforts to improve and diversify dietary intakes and promote nutritional well-being among most population groups. Fish have a highly desirable nutrient profile providing an excellent source of high quality animal protein that is easily digestible and of high biological value. Fatty fish, in particular, are an extremely rich source of essential fatty acids, including omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), so important for normal growth and mental development, especially during pregnancy and early childhood. Fish are also rich in vitamins and minerals (especially calcium, phosphorus, iron, selenium and iodine in marine products).Fish therefore can provide an important source of nutrients particularly for those whose diets are monotonous and lacking in animal products. Increasing the availability of fish in the diet increases palatability and leads to increased consumption of a range of foods thereby improving overall food and nutrient intakes.
5. Aquaculture makes a significant contribution to food security. At the global level it helps fill the gap between the rising global demands for fishery products and the limited increases in capture fisheries production2. Aquaculture is the fastest growing food-producing sector in the world. A great proportion of this production comes from the developing world (91.2 percent in 2000), in particular Low Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) (83.9 percent in 2000)3.
6. Aquaculture’s contribution by weight to global fish supply increased from 5.3 percent in 1970 to 32.2 percent in 2000. It now dominates all other animal food producing sectors, in terms of growth; growing at an average Annual Percent Rate (APR) of 8.9 percent per year since 1970, compared to 1.4 and 2.8 percent for capture fisheries and terrestrial farmed meat production, respectively. In 2000, 45.71 million metric tonnes (mmt) of aquatic products, valued at US$ 56.47 thousand million, was produced globally, over half in the form of finfish. In contrast to terrestrial farming systems, where the bulk of global production is based on a limited number of animal and plant species, the aquaculture sector comprises over 200 different species. This large number of species cultivated reflects the diversity of the sector, particularly the wide variety of candidate species cultivated and different production systems used.
7. Currently all major aquaculture producing countries are in Asia. Seven Asian countries (China, India, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh and Vietnam) had national aquaculture production valued over US$1,000 million in 2000. The main species groups reared in freshwater are finfish while high value crustaceans and finfish predominate in brackishwater, as molluscs and aquatic plants do in marine waters. Of these three environments, freshwater aquaculture could be considered as the most important in terms of contributing to achieving food security. Marine aquaculture, particularly of sea weeds and molluscs, also contributes to food security and poverty alleviation, as most of its products are produced within small to medium-scale operations. While brackish water shrimp culture is generally aimed at producing a high-value export commodity, coastal shrimp culture also plays an important role in rural livelihoods and food security.
8. Globally, two-thirds of the total food fish supply is obtained from marine and inland capture fisheries; the remaining one-third being derived from aquaculture. The contribution of capture fisheries to per capita food supply has stabilized at 10 to 11 kg per capita during the period 1970-2000. Recent increases in per capita availability were obtained from aquaculture production. On average, for all countries in the world except China, aquaculture's contribution to per capita food availability grew from 0.5 kg in 1970 to 1.8 kg in 2000 - at an average rate of 4.5 percent per annum. In China, where fish farming practices have deep traditional roots, the per capita supply from aquaculture is reported to have increased from around 1 kg to nearly 19 kg over the same period, an annual average growth of 11 percent.
9. More 'food fish’ is consumed globally on a per capita basis than any other type of meat or animal protein (16.0 kg per capita supply in 1998). In terms of animal protein, food fish represented 16.5% of total supply in 1997 (when total global animal protein supply was reported as 27.1g per capita ), followed by pork (14.7%), beef and veal (13.6%), and poultry meat (12.5%). It is interesting to note here that farmed aquatic meat production in China currently ranks second to pig meat; per capita availability of food fish in China increasing from 6.3kg in 1984 to 25.5kg in 19984.
10. The main factor behind the high demand for staple food fish (in particular inexpensive farmed freshwater fish species feeding low on the aquatic food chain), within most developing countries is their greater affordability to the poorer segments of the community5. At present food fish represents the primary source of animal protein (contributing more than 25% of the total animal protein supply) for about 1 billion people within 58 countries worldwide, including many developing countries and LIFDCs (value excludes China)6.
11. Although per capita levels as high as 180 kcal a day are reported from countries such as Japan and Iceland, the average energy supply from fish is only 20 to 30 kilocalories per capita per day. In the diets of many countries, fish contributes more than or close to 50 percent of total animal proteins (e.g. Gambia, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Togo, Guinea, Bangladesh, the Republic of Congo, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Philippines). The International Conference on Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries to Food Security, held in Kyoto, 1995, recognized that aquatic products contribute meaningfully to the maintenance of good nutrition7.
12. As mentioned, fish are important sources for many nutrients, including protein of very high quality, retinol (Vitamin A), vitamin D, vitamin E, iodine and selenium. Evidence is increasing that the consumption of fish enhances brain development and learning in children, protects vision and eye health, and offers protection from cardiovascular disease and some cancers. The fats and fatty acids in fish, particularly the long chain n-3 fatty acids (n-3 PUFA), are highly beneficial and difficult to obtain from other food sources. Of particular importance are eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3, EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3, DHA). A review of the benefits of fish consumption for mothers and infants was published by FAO in 2000.8
13. The fat content of fish varies from 1.0 g/100 g in lean white fish to 30 g/100 g in fatty fish. The n-3 PUFA are lowest in white fish (0.5 g/100 g in cod), medium in crustaceans (0.7 g/100 g in mussels) and roe (1.0 g/100 g) and highest in fatty fish (>5 g/100 g in mackerel). Many factors can influence the nutrient content of fish, including stage of maturity and feed formulation.
14. The high quality protein and essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals found in fish and the effects of adding fish to traditional bland staple diets can stimulate appetite and increase food consumption of the young child and the aged, and of the ill including people living with HIV/AIDS.9
15. Although aquaculture complements many other food production systems, such as integrated agriculture-aquaculture, rice-fish farming, and livestock-fish farming, etc., aquaculture’s potential for contributing to global food production is still not fully realized. The decision to establish the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture under the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), during 2001, reflects the importance that FAO Member Governments attach to aquaculture, as a tool for national development. Many recent international gatherings, including the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium and the World Food Summit: five years later, recognized the role that aquaculture can play in national economic development, global food supply and achievement of food security, and declared that the sector has the potential to continue to contribute even more to peoples’ livelihoods10.
16. The objective of rural development is to facilitate a sustainable rural economy and to secure improvements in the welfare of rural populations. The opportunities for the integration of aquaculture into rural development are characterized by diverse aquatic resources and a wide range of stakeholders with diverse livelihoods. Objectives may further range from food production, income generation, and wild stock enhancement to recreation (ornamental fish or sport). The scale may be intensive commercial or subsistence management within developed and less-developed economies. At the local/national level, the integration of aquaculture into rural development may take place in growing (e.g., developing economies) or declining (e.g., remote rural regions in developed economies) populations. At all levels, this is occurring within theontext of globalization, increased mobility of goods, services, capital and ideas, combined with increased transfers of aquatic species and disease transmission. Investment is generally attracted by stable and predictable political and institutional environments, transparent laws, fair competition and reliable legal systems. Where rural development fails to create the policy environment and skills to exploit global opportunities, aquaculture like other sub-sectors, may decline.
17. Aquaculture provides worldwide employment to millions of people. Total employment in the aquaculture sector is highest in China where almost 4 million people work full-time in the sector, and the annual growth rate for employment is reported as 6 percent11. In Vietnam the employment is estimated at over 700 000 people12, although these figures do not yet reflect the large number of people employed in affiliated industries (fish feeds, equipment, fish processing and marketing). In the United States, where aquaculture is identified as a major growth industry for the 21st century, around 200 000 people are employed within the sub-sector13. In contrast, in the European Union less than 60 000 people are employed in aquaculture14, i.e. just over ten percent of the total employment in the fishery sector.
18. Studies in various developing countries (e.g. China and Vietnam) have shown that 80 - 100 percent of the aquaculture products from rural farm households are marketed. This suggests that aquaculture can be considered as a cash generating activity and thus an important indirect source of food security. In many countries the average market prices of fish are lower than those of other animal products such as chicken, pork and red meat. Especially in Asia the low prices of aquaculture commodities such as carps and tilapias make fish highly accessible to even the poorest segments of the population. Poor people in land locked countries, such as Nepal and Laos, largely depend on freshwater aquaculture for their fish.
19. Economic feasibility studies have shown that aquaculture is economically feasible under many different circumstances. Many types of low-cost, low-risk, simple technologies have emerged in recent years. Comparative studies between rice, rice-fish and fish-farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa demonstrated that farmers investing in aquaculture increased their household incomes considerably with only minor investments. In Europe, USA, China and other Asian countries the increases in production and the number of people active in aquaculture over the last decade have shown that production systems ranging from extensive to highly intensive can be economically feasible.
20. The average annual per capita income of people employed full-time in the fisheries sector (including aquaculture) in China was about US$ 540 in 1999, which was more than double that of rural terrestrial farmers. In South-East Asian countries, such as Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, a similar situation can be found; farmers engaged in aquaculture generally generate higher household incomes than those who are not. In Vietnam, 50% of the farmers involved in aquaculture consider it as their main source of income and derive on average 75% of their households' income from it. Catfish and shrimp culture specifically have, in recent years, provided an average annual household income of over US$1 000, which is significantly more than that generated by comparable agriculture practices15.
21. Initial data from a study in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam suggest that aquaculture development can contribute to a decrease in migration by young women from rural areas to urban centres by offering local opportunities to earn a living. The decreased need for urban migration could prevent women from being compelled into prostitution, thus fewer women would be at risk of becoming infected with HIV/AIDS.
22. The role that fish can play in improving diets is undisputed, and this can be particularly important in regard to children's diets and child nutrition. A household food security and nutrition survey conducted in Luapula, Zambia, in 1997-98 illustrates this point (FAO, 2000). In the Luapula Valley fish is often the most important source of high-quality protein. The data showed that among children whose diets regularly included fish, and other high quality protein- containing foods, there was a significantly lower prevalence of stunting than among those whose diets contained little fish. When programmes that improve access to fish are combined with effective nutrition education to promote the inclusion of fish in children’s diets, child nutrition can be markedly improved in a very cost-effective manner.
23. Aquaculture can contribute to improved food security and nutrition through various channels: local food supplies can be improved through the increased availability of low-cost fish; employment opportunities and incomes can be raised; and consumption of fish can be increased directly. While increasing the quantity and variety of fish and other foods consumed by the poor will reduce under-nutrition, such dietary improvements are not automatic benefits of aquaculture development. Food consumption and good nutrition are not determined solely by how much food is produced or available. Households must have physical and economic access to an adequate amount and variety of food, and household heads and care-givers must have the time, knowledge and motivation to make the best use of the household’s resources to meet the food and other basic needs of all members. The key to securing the maximum nutritional benefits from aquaculture development is to ensure that the poor and undernourished gain greater access to the increased supplies of fish and that they can enhance their aquaculture-derived income.
24. Aquaculture comprises diverse production systems of farming plants and animals in inland and coastal areas, many of which have relevance for the poor. In the context of the rural poor, aquaculture often complements catches from traditional fisheries. The latter continue to play an important role and, in many areas, remain adequate to satisfy subsistence needs and provide a valuable source of income for farmer/fishers. In many cases, the captured species form the basis for household food security, enabling the use of livestock or cultured fish as sources of income. Aquaculture becomes an attractive and important component of rural livelihoods in situations where increasing population pressures, environmental degradation or loss of access, limit catches from wild fisheries16.
25. Aquaculture in small-scale integrated farming systems can provide high quality animal protein and other nutrients that can be especially valuable for nutritionally vulnerable groups. Aquaculture commonly provides protein at prices generally affordable to the poorer segments of the community, and it creates ‘own enterprise’ employment, including jobs for women and children, while providing income through sale of what can be relatively high value products17. Employment opportunities are also possible on larger farms, in seed supply networks, market chains and manufacture/repair supporting services. Indirect benefits include increased availability of fish in local rural and urban markets and possible increases in household income through sales of farm products, which will become available through increased local consumption of fish. Aquaculture can also benefit the landless from utilization of common resources, such as finfish cage culture, culture of molluscs and seaweeds, and fisheries enhancement in communal water bodies18.
26. An important, though often overlooked, benefit which is particularly relevant for integrated agriculture-aquaculture systems, is their contribution to increased farm efficiency and sustainability. Agricultural by-products, such as manure from livestock and crop residues, can serve as fertilizer and feed inputs for small-scale and commercial aquaculture. Fish farming in rice fields not only contributes to integrated pest management, but also management of vectors of human medical importance19. Furthermore, ponds become important as on-farm water reservoirs for irrigation and livestock in areas where there are seasonal water shortages20. Aquaculture activities may provide supplementary income during lean seasons when food security is low, thus smoothing the seasonal flows of income related to annual cropping. Fish can also be a form of investment of savings that can be used as collateral for securing loans or sold in times of hardship to buffer the effects of lean seasons or loss of income.
27. Aquaculture producers have, through various technological interventions (e.g., improved feed, better performing broodstock, good health management, genetic improvements, etc.) achieved important productivity gains and cost reductions. Over time this has led to a decrease in prices, despite short-term intervals of significant price-swings. The prices of fishery products did not increase as a result of the growing international demand instead, they show a decreasing trend21. Prices of some aquaculture products in the EU and the USA have decreased considerably over the past years. While salmon and shrimp were considered high value commodities for affluent society in the 1980s, they are now much more common fare. The increase in salmon and shrimp consumption can be considered a result of their lower prices, as well as of wider availability, diversification in products and use of salmon and shrimp in convenience and ready-to-eat meals. The price of internationally or locally traded aquatic products dictates its’ contribution to food security as it affects production. The current trend indicates that these price fluctuations are in favor of increasing local production, thus assisting rural livelihoods and food security.
28. Many aquaculture activities, including marketing, are undertaken by women. This is particularly the case for small-scale operations. Aquaculture may therefore provide supplementary income to women who are the key managers of household resources that may be preferentially directed to consumption. Increasing women’s income strengthens her position in society. Their empowerment encourages them to become further involved in decisions in the development process.
29. Research into the use of genetically modified aquaculture species is increasing, although commercial availability of GMO fish is still scarce and the contribution of GMOs to food fish production is small. The emphasis on biotechnology and its contribution to food security, poverty reduction, and income generation is increasing. Preparedness to address this challenge in a responsible manner is required. The major biotechnology sectors involved in aquaculture are similar to those for agricultural sectors. Development of the knowledge required to optimize safe biotechnological innovation in aquaculture is of particular significance, and presents a unique set of challenges, mainly due to the diversity of species cultured and production systems used. Biotechnological interventions, such as achieving higher feed conversion rates, improving aquatic animal health and reducing mortalities in farms, and adapting species to difficult environmental circumstances (e.g. Tilapia for cold or saline environments), could assist in increasing aquacultures' contribution to global food security. In view of this, it should be noted that most cultured fish species can be considered much closer to their wild genetic origins than currently farmed livestock22.
30. Malnutrition is more prevalent in resource poor areas, and those with poor infrastructure and services. A challenge from an environmental point of view is to identify technologies suitable for such circumstances. The selection of those technologies must be based on a thorough understanding of why environmentally undesirable land uses are practiced. Policies must induce farmers, especially poor farmers on marginal lands, to adopt improved farming methods which are ecologically sound, socially acceptable and economically beneficial.
31. Negative environmental impacts (such as the destruction of mangrove areas, effluent discharge, abandonment of farms, etc.) which traditionally were inextricably linked to aquaculture, and shrimp culture in particular, are no longer common. The introduction by many countries of Good Management Practices and sectoral codes of practice, often based on the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF), is a clear sign of changes within the sub-sector23. Aquaculture, as other natural resource users, is sometimes criticized for paying little attention to the impact of its activities on the biodiversity and the natural resource base. Cases of escaped salmon causing sea lice to be transferred to wild stocks, and the capture of shrimp broodstock in the wild are just some examples from the recent past. FAO has been actively working in these fields, and improvements (in planning and regulation) are being made to avoid negative impacts on the environment and biodiversity24. Such efforts towards minimizing environmental impacts of aquaculture, and ensuring its sustainable development within the framework of CCRF will enhance the sectoral contribution to food security, poverty alleviation and rural development.
32. Experiences of the last decades have shown that initiatives to alleviate poverty and achieve food security can seldom be sustained if planned without the involvement of the community. Community-centred approaches encourage self-reliance and self-help and, by doing so, raise self-esteem. Such approaches aim at empowering communities to make optimal use of locally available resources, and to effectively demand additional resources and better services to improve their livelihoods. Building on traditional social networks of support and mutual assistance, community-centred approaches mobilize community members in activities to meet their perceived needs and development priorities, thus making a significant contribution to sustainable development at local and national levels. Community-centred approaches help ensure that a range of stakeholders including women and marginal groups become part of the development process, real issues and needs are addressed, implementation and monitoring is improved, and sustainability enhanced by giving users the leading role in developing and adapting activities.
33. Community-centred approaches rely on participatory planning and appraisal techniques. They have been used widely to increase the adoption and dissemination of aquaculture and the guiding principles have been reviewed by FAO. Household food security and nutrition have shown to be good entry points for coordinating and planning local development projects that feature aquaculture activities and participatory approaches have been adapted to the local setting. One such example is the experiential learning in Farmer Field Schools (FFS) in rice farming, which opened opportunities for the integration of aquaculture to better crop management, particularly in relation to Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Farmers spend weekly five to six hours together, of which two hours are spent in the field observing the ecosystem. The process is facilitated by trainers, who themselves have spent a whole season in the field learning about the ecosystem and designing curricula for the FFSs. Rice farmers experiment with physical modifications of the fields to accommodate fish, such as digging trenches in different shapes and sizes or small ponds at different locations. They are innovative in adapting their production systems to local market conditions - growing bigger fish for sale or household consumption or smaller fish if they can sell them to grow-out operations nearby. Better utilization of resources, increased income and a healthy crop of rice and fish reinforce farmers' acceptance of integrated pest management and rejection of pesticides. Experience shows that many groups of farmers decide to continue the process of information exchange in self-organized “farmer clubs” long after project and programme promoted FFSs have ended.
34. The Bangkok Declaration and Strategy25 emphasizes the need for the aquaculture sector to continue development towards its full potential, making a net contribution to global food availability, domestic food security, economic growth, trade and improved living standards.
35. In order to achieve the full potential of aquaculture, it should be pursued as an integral component of community development, contributing to sustainable livelihoods, promoting human development and enhancing social well-being of poorer sectors. Aquaculture policies and regulations should promote practical and economically viable farming and management practices that are environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable. If aquaculture is to attain its full potential, the sector may require new approaches in the coming decades. These approaches will undoubtedly vary in different regions and countries, and the challenge is to develop approaches that are realistic and achievable within each social, economic, environmental and political circumstance. In an era of globalization and trade liberalization, such approaches should not only focus on increasing production, they should also focus on producing a product that is affordable, acceptable and accessible to all sectors of society.
36. Aquaculture development initiatives until the early 1990s aimed largely at the increase of production to satisfy the rising demand of the growing world population and compensate for local declines in capture fisheries production. Before the 1990s aquaculture development approaches focused mainly on the transfer of technologies, research and extension, ensuring that there would be sufficient fish seeds/fingerlings through centralized, state-owned hatcheries. In the 1990s this approach, like that in other rural sectors, changed with a growing awareness on the part of governments that market liberalization was important for the development of the sector. Since the second half of the last decade of the 20th century it was acknowledged that aquatic resources are extremely important for the livelihoods of millions of poor people in developing countries and that the participation of the poor in decision-making processes affecting their livelihoods is essential.
37. The aquaculture development paradigm of the 1990s resulted in a number of successes and failures. The main causes of failures, in particular in Africa, were the focus on subsistence aquaculture accompanying production increases, without taking in consideration the other preconditions for development of the sector such as feed and credit availability and need to market the produce. Other reasons for failure were, among others: mismanagement, unclear land and water rights, emphasis on technologies, disregard for the environment and the use of inefficient and centralized government hatchery systems.
38. Aquaculture successes, however, are also found in many regions. In Europe and in North and South America, the boom in the culture of salmonids in the 1990s has created employment in areas with little alternate possibilities with the result of increasing standards of living of many coastal areas. Together with the boom in aquaculture, the affiliated industries (feed, drugs, equipment, processing, and marketing) flourished. In Asia and Latin America, development of shrimp culture has provided employment and income to many coastal populations.
39. The weakness of Government and civil society institutions in many developing countries reduces the capacity to support aquaculture development. Influencing institutions to provide increased and better quality services in support of aquaculture development needs a long-term effort, internal commitment from the management, well directed capacity building programmes, and a network approach with partner institutions, in order to become successful.
40. Aquaculture development can further be enhanced by applying participatory and transparent policy development processes. Aquaculture is often neglected by governments when designing policies and strategies for rural development. For instance, few Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) of the World Bank and Country Strategy Papers of the EU consider aquaculture as a means to rural development or achievement of food security and alleviation of poverty.
41. Poverty and food security focused aquaculture interventions that have proven to be successful are characterized by, among others; ownership by the beneficiaries, use of participatory approaches, designed as small-scale in terms of investment, demand-led with farmers first, people-centred approaches, growing species which feed low on the food chain (e.g. carp, catfish and tilapia), targeting all household members, using of farmer field schools type methodologies as well as of technologies that are developed according to the local context with network approaches. On the other hand, aquaculture interventions that failed to contribute to the alleviation of rural poverty and achievement of food security generally made use of inappropriate subsidies and training allowances, established large centralized hatcheries, used technology-led interventions, were short term, with management, extension and planning approaches that were top-down26.
42. Small-scale aquaculture contributes to the alleviation of poverty and achievement of food security. In addition, commercial, larger scale, aquaculture as is practiced in many developed and developing countries, with species such as shrimp, salmon, tilapia, catfish, grouper and carps can enhance the production for domestic and export markets, and the generation of employment (in production, processing and marketing). Indirectly, tax revenues from commercial aquaculture enterprises and foreign exchange earnings (when exporting) allow governments to invest in sectors that add to the achievement of food security.
43. Raising awareness at all levels of society of the potential of aquaculture is one of the main components of any framework for aquaculture development. Education, information sharing and capacity building are other cross-cutting themes that are relevant to most aspects of aquaculture development and management, particularly for harnessing the potential for food security and poverty aleviation. Better integration of aquaculture in rural development is important in view of the often limited government resources for education and extension. In this respect, a framework for aquaculture development should address at farm level issues such as resource use efficiency and the economic or livelihood incentives that influence farm household members when they decide on cropping patterns and the use of water, feeds, fertilizer, chemical treatments and other inputs. Emphasis should also be given to farmers’ knowledge of the available production and pest management options, as well as on their ability to apply these.
44. Farmers’ management strategies are not based solely on economic criteria but also include minimization of risk, cropping flexibility, traditional and cultural preferences for species and techniques, available labor and labor requirements. Extension and capacity building are crucial for informed decision making27. Other important elements of any framework that increases the contribution of aquaculture to the achievement of food security are related to legal, financial, investment, marketing and trade aspects. The existence of good aquaculture legislation can provide an important contribution to sustainable aquaculture development. It can minimize (or avoid) environmental impacts and can contribute to the development of an environment in which aquaculture is economically viable. Moreover, land-, fisheries- and aquaculture legislation can increase the access of poorer parts of the population to aquatic resources which directly contributes to the achievement of food security.
45. Access to banking services, credit and insurance allows aquaculture farmers to work more effectively, which will indirectly lead to higher production, growth in income and employment. Investment in aquaculture is often negatively affected by a weak institutional framework. Investments in aquaculture are generally made for the long term. Unstable political and administrative environments may therefore entail less investment, including the foreign direct investment. Trade-barriers can affect the viability of aquaculture activities to a large extent.
46. Public–private partnerships in aquaculture and the establishment of aquaculture networks have shown to contribute considerably to the sectoral development. Although the establishment of such partnerships and networks may be a time-consuming, costly and difficult task32, they make it possible to address constraints and opportunities in a manner that otherwise would not have been allowed. Cooperation between government, NGO’s and civil society further provides opportunities for awareness raising, targeting and creating dialogues between the various stakeholders on aquaculture –food security linkages. Regional cooperation between aquaculture farmers, producers and marketing associations, research institutes and governments is essential. In this respect, the Support to Regional Aquatic Resources Management (STREAM) programme of NACA/FAO/DFID and VSO in South East Asia is a good example. This programme has proven to be successful in bringing aquaculture on the agenda of national and regional conferences that deal with rural development and food security and poverty issues in particular. South-South Cooperation between Asian countries and those in Africa and Latin America is a useful tool to disseminate these experiences.
47. If an effective enabling environment is created, cultured fish and other aquatic products could play a significant role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In this respect, the Committee may wish to consider the following actions:
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